The Cab Ride – 13 April 2017

I hailed a SMRT cab to head out after what I considered to be a pretty crappy day, and the uncle I got had his shift change sign on which typically annoys me even on a regular day since I always get rejected by shift changing drivers. Surprisingly, this time I got lucky and he agreed to take me, though I got in feeling apprehensive about everything in general.

I got into the cab, and the first thing he did was notice I was wearing workout gear and said “uncle is very happy to see you take care of yourself”, after which he handed me two sweets and a chocolate coated wafer biscuit (the kind you ate a lot of as a kid). This took me completely aback, given that no taxi driver has ever offered food to me before, and all I could think about was how my parents told me not to take sweets from strangers, which added to my apprehension. He gave me another first in all the taxi rides of my life when he started handing me several laminated sheets of newspaper reports and certificates on how he’s received awards from the LTA for his service as a taxi driver. I read them out of politeness at first, but as he was describing each one to me, my desire to read transformed into that of genuine interest. While I would usually chalk all this talking up to massive bragging, I realised that this wasn’t it – he genuinely loved what he did and wanted to share that joy with me, someone he’s never met before.

The laminated sheets he handed to me then moved from newspaper reports and certificates to old photographs. This was where he started talking about his family – how he had a difficult time many years ago after his wife left, but how he got through it and most importantly how proud he was of his two grown-up daughters, who are studying hard in poly/uni and going to be independent soon. It was also at this moment that he turned up the radio, which was playing one of those 80s love ballads, and he started singing along in this soft but sure sentimental tone. Before I got off the cab, he told this: these songs are the soundtracks of the moments where I should be with loved ones on a stormy night, singing along to drown out the sound of the raindrops.

After getting off, I reflected and thought – how ungrateful I must be compared to this uncle, when I complain about my life, whether about finals or just being under the weather, when there are people out there who would give anything to have the opportunities so many of us are blessed with. I also realised that I’m guilty of probably pushing away everyday reminders to be thankful, just because I’m too caught up with myself or I’m too judgmental to see them. It shouldn’t take a stranger that I may never see again to remind me that every moment is a gift, but I’m glad that I had those unexpected 15 minutes to bring me back to that humbling, simple reality.

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The Library Book – 3 January 2017

I absentmindedly left a book from the newly opened SMU law library at the ATM after drawing money and went off to buy food, before realising that it was missing about 10 minutes later. The book wasn’t there when I went back to the ATM and I re-traced my steps about 5 times but couldn’t find it, so I genuinely panicked for the next 45 minutes or so, thinking that some selfish bastard took the book for himself while it was borrowed under my name and I was going to be blacklisted for losing a book that didn’t belong to me and that costs about a week’s worth of breakfast+lunch+dinner.

Not knowing what else to do, I was kind of “resigned to my fate” and just went back to eating my food. I was halfway through my Korean spicy noodles when it occurred to me to pray hard that the book would be found or that whoever found it would return it to the library without taking it for themselves. And prayed I did, all the way until my noodles were done. I then checked my email like I usually do after mealtimes, not expecting anything different to pop up. Then I saw the email right at the top, titled “Library Book” by a person I didn’t know, so I opened it and there it was – a kind fellow student from SOE had found it for me, left his number and offered to find me in school to return it to me. Within 5 minutes I was thanking my benefactor profusely, the book was back in my hands and I returned it back to the library where it belongs.

TL;DR – 

(1) God cares about the things that are exceptionally trivial to us and finds ways to show how much He cares for us even in our daily lives, we just need to make an effort to calm ourselves down and find Him in the mess.

(2) There is a lot more goodness in people than we would like to believe. I automatically assumed the absolute worst in whoever had found my book, when the truth was seriously the opposite. It is totally worth doing good to others even if you think that humanity as a whole doesn’t deserve it, because you might actually really make someone’s day and help them think twice about their assumptions.