The centre of the kindness universe – Singapore!

Singapore

Rather than writing about a good deed I’ve done, this blog is about three good deeds I myself experienced within the space of ten minutes. I’ll set the scene: I’m in Singapore and thanks to a communication mix up, my sister and her husband have booked a flight at 11am and mine is at 11pm. Awesome! So I set about killing time in this incredible city for eight hours and finally headed to the airport still five hours before my flight departed. Which is where I currently am, still waiting, but this time with a big grin on my face thanks to my experiences of some truly good deeds.

The first good deed someone did for me is so beautifully simple and sums up Singapore rather perfectly: the front zip of my rucksack was open, in which I keep my phone, purse, passport … you know, literally everything I need. I was, obviously, oblivious to the vulnerability of my entire life but a kind man standing behind me at the platform for the inter-airport shuttle between terminals tapped me on the shoulder and, in perfect English, informed me that my bag was open. So thank you, gentleman with the bright yellow polo shirt on.

Now onto my second and third good deeds which were most definitely connected. It is said that one good deed inspires another and I can most certainly attest to that in this situation. So I had offered to post the cards my sister and I had written to various family members since I had literally 12 hours to kill. I had been told by a helpful shop assistant that there was a post office in Terminal 2 at Changi Airport (4th good deed?) and so I confidently headed to the airport with the cards in my bag. Well, she was right, there is a post office in Terminal 2. The only problem was that it was closed. Oops.

Not to worry, I wasn’t in too much of a predicament just yet because there was an automated stamp machine still operating outside, great! Except I’d battled with one in Terminal 1 (where my flight actually heads from) and failed spectacularly when they tried to charge me $6 per postcard. Just as I was staring down the identical copy of my nemesis, a postman arrived to empty the nearby boxes. I asked for his help but he was just as unfamiliar with the machine as I was. He collects the post, after all. But finally my Masters degree kicked in and I spotted the teeny tiny “postcards” button at the bottom of the screen. 60 cents – much more reasonable. At this point the postie appeared with another postcard he had found in the box and pointed out the ¢60 stamp on that to help me – sweet! Confident I was winning at life, I slid my British debit card into the machine. Rejected. Huh. British credit card. Rejected. Ok, I know I’m poor but I can afford $3!

Once more the postie was unable to help me but between us we managed to get the attention of a woman who evidently worked in the now-closed post office. She came out, slightly disgruntled given she had clocked off over half an hour previous, and asked what the problem was. When I explained, she gave me the once over and asked if I had any money. I replied that I did (my last $10 of Singapore cash). She then led me over to the machine, re-entered all of the information I had just cancelled and paid for it all on her own Singaporean card! Gobsmacked at her kindness, I then handed over the $3, during which time the postie had finished his box emptying duties and decided to idle his cart beside us. We then formed a mini-construction line Henry Ford himself would be proud of: I peeled and placed the stamp, the lady passed it to the postie, and the postie put it in his sack which, presumably are currently in a mailroom somewhere in the airport I’m still sat at waiting to be sorted.

I had been to Singapore once before, a few years ago. At the time it struck me as ultra-clean, ultra-expensive, and … well, not much else. But now I’ll be going away with a completely different impression of this amazing country. And it’s not just because someone didn’t rob me blind on the train and then two people avoided me having to send postcards from England (heaven forbid!). No, my impression of this country has only been solidified by these three wonderful experiences. Singapore, and the people who reside there, are not only kind-hearted but accepting of one another, helpful to anyone who needs it, and accommodating to bumbling, annoying toursts.

I’m heading back to England right now to spend some time with my family (I live abroad) and much as I love my home country, I would never expect to experience any of these acts of kindness there, especially in London. Isn’t that wrong? Isn’t there something innately wrong with not only humankind but our perception of ourselves when we don’t expect people to do the right thing. It’s in our name, after all: humankind. And yet the world, or perhaps more specifically our media, is suitably focused on all the horrific things we do to one another (and animals and the planet) that we’ve lost faith in ourselves that we can do good. But we can. The people in Singapore proved that to me. They may be a tiny island with a population of just over 5 million, but they’ve inspired me and I hope this blog has inspired you.

Go, do, experience. More Good Deeds.