on the train today

I was on the red line going for an appointment with my dermatologist at Orchard. The whole ride, I was standing and reading.

When the train arrived at Novena, someone left the seat and a young lady went for it. At this moment, from behind, an old aunty tapped on her shoulder and asked her to give up the seat to an older ah ma she was talking to. Well, maybe I wouldn’t put it as “ask” as she just pointed to the old ah ma, hinting. The said ah ma was probably in her 60s or 70s. Without even glancing at the ah ma the lady just muttered something and took the seat anyway.

So began a series of bitching between the old aunty and ah ma about how that lady was selfish in Mandarin, right in front of her. The lady who took the seat was a Filipino, so she probably didn’t understand what they said. It was clear though, despite the smiles plastered on their faces, that the aunties were complaining about her. Saying things like, she’d learn her lesson when she’s older and can’t walk, repeating how selfish youngsters are these days and whining about being old all while glaring at her..

Yes, the Filipino lady could’ve been more gracious and understanding, and given up her seat for the ah ma. But at the same time, I felt that the attitude that those aunties displayed were simply ungracious. I was annoyed and actually a little disgusted at their sense of entitlement, just because they’re old. Although she didn’t look like it, who knows if the Filipino’s legs were hurting, as much as yours? Did you really deserve the seat more than her, just because you’re old?

I know that being not-old myself, I can’t put myself in the aunties’ shoes. Yet I’m so sick of people with such sense of self entitlement. They expect things to come easier – or just come – to them, just because of their being or doing. At work, I receive countless emails about how a mother wants a free room upgrade just because she’s bringing her baby. (Just get a bigger room for your baby’s comfort.) Or, a couple wants free decorations and champagne just because they’re celebrating their anniversary. (Just buy yourself.) Some people need to understand that you shouldn’t expect things to be given or offered to you, at no cost to you, just because of your “special” circumstance. It’s unreasonable. Many things are given as an act of goodwill, and I just feel like people are becoming demanding of other people’s altruism and kindness, as if they’re naturally deserving of them, or they deserve them more than other people (who are not old, for example). When kindness is not given to them, they become unhappy – and complain.

Little things like giving up train seat can tell about someone’s value – for example if he/she respects the elderly. It’s a value the society prescribes as a good one and one we should all strive toward, and indeed one we should expect of one another to build a loving and inclusive community. However, differences in personal values aside, I just feel that everyone is fighting their own battles in different ways and it gets on my nerves when one displays arrogance or feels that he/she deserves the right to a certain benefit more than another, and not because they had worked hard for it, but just because they ‘are’ (old/married/a mother).

One thought on “on the train today”

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