Read this article ->>‘My legs are now so tired and weak’

There is a Chinese saying, 一样米养百种人. Literally, the same kind of rice feeds hundreds of different kinds of people. Which roughly means, even though everyone lives on the same resources, they develop into people with vastly different characters.

People like the brave old lady…I’ve seen quite a few in my neighbourhood. There’s this old lady who always sells newspapers downstairs, just by the roadside. Rain or shine, she will always be there. On a rainy day, a paper-thin worn out shawl-scarf-like-thingy would be wrapped around her frail body, to offer what protection there is against the biting cold. She would be there at 6am-ish, and would sit by the roadside waiting for customers. Every day, without fail. Until some time ago, where there was a fatal road accident by the road where she would sit. My family didn’t see her for a few days, and we were so worried that she had been injured in the accident. Luckily, we saw her back in business again some time later, but further in and not by the roadside (which I always thought was quite dangerous, although traffic there was light).

She would pack up usually around 1 pm, but she does not carry a watch, so I think she tells time by instinct. Or, probably by the people who passes by. Although she is old and can’t speak much, she recognizes people quite well, and would call out to those whom she knows would buy a paper. But she’s not always very accurate though. There was once I saw her still sitting there past 2 pm, and a woman told her that it was already time to go home. The old lady refused to believe her inititally, but soon packed up to go after some persuading that there was not going to be any much more people.

How eager she is for customers is best shown on one occasion, where she was eating a packet of plain beehoon when my mom and I approached her to buy a paper. She was still sitting by the side of the road at that time, and there was this large drain behind her (which adds to the danger, actually). She was using this pair of disposable chopsticks.

Looks like this:

 

Yup, this kind.

Then, I suppose she got too excited to serve us in a hurry, so much so that she

FLUNG THE CHOPSTICKS INTO THE DRAIN BEHIND LOL.

We really didn’t know to laugh or cry, but got a new pair for her after that.

I’ve heard that she lives alone, but still manages to make a living through this. I think she is quite lucky already. Selling papers is so much easier (I think) than having to go around peddling tissue or picking cardboard. At least it is less tiring physically.

There is another old lady who always hangs out at the nearby bus interchange to sell tissue. I think she is at least partially blind – she can’t see well and just stands at one spot with her hand outstretched, saying “Thank you” or “bye bye” to no one in particular, to anyone who cares to buy tissue. However, my dad says he has seen her queuing at the 4D booth at the NTUC nearby, so we don’t buy tissue from her.

So you see, even among the poor, there are different types of people. Right or wrong aside, like my mom always says when my dad complains about how my grandma likes to buy 4D…”她还有多久可以买?她喜欢做什么就让她去做吧,反正我们钱给她后,就是她的.” Which roughly means, “she’s already so old, just let her do whatever makes her happy (as long as it’s not illegal).” Not everyone might agree with this, but I think it makes some sense. Although..I would still prefer it if that blind old lady bought her 4D at a place further away from where she does business, or not at all =.=

If I were a journalist, I would like to write articles like that to raise awareness. But I’m not, so I am resigned to blabbering here. Haha.

(personal rant below, read at your own risk)

And I think there exists some people who have no inkling that such people exist in modern, advanced Singapore and would be surprised. I’ve been doing a bit of public opinion survey research through telephone interview lately, and I find it quite appalling that in the very same country where people struggle to make a living on their own, there are those who threaten to write emails/spout nasty stuff/rail at you for half an hour/even call the cops just because you’ve  dialled their number (generated randomly by a computer) asking for 5 minutes of their time to do a survey for a school project. I mean sure, I can understand that you value your privacy very much, and probably you’ve been harassed by 23,745 marketing companies/phone scams. But please, I appeal to you as a fellow human being, just say “no, thank you” and hang up if you don’t want to help. There is no need to make personal attacks at us/get your panties in a twist. And not like the marketing companies/phone scammers are going to tell you honestly how they got your number/give you a valid correspondence anyway. If you have too much time and nothing better to do, there are people around who need your help. I’m stereotyping, but I’m guessing these are mostly the rich people, because the poor people are too busy trying to scrape a living to be concerned with mundane stuff like that.

On a side note, I always believe that nobody can really understand what it feels like to be poor unless you’ve really lived that kind of life before. So I have this primal instinct to lash out at anyone who says “I know how you feel”. Nobody can really proclaim they know how someone is feeling. You are not me, so how can you know?

/rant