Wednesday, November 08, 2006

serve me right

Late one night, after an extremely long day, I squeezed my weary self onto a packed feeder bus on my way back to sweet abode.

The peculiar thing about the feeder service that plys the short distance between the train station and my place is that it seems to be packed all the time. Even at unearthly off-peak hours past 10pm at night. What's more, this stretch of road that leads to my place is also perpetually jammed with traffic. Ditto the typical Singaporean commuter behaviour (shoving and jostling to get onto the bus, where upon one then refuses to budge once boarded).

Hence, the combo of all three culminates, unsurprisingly, in drivers who are usually grouchy, frustrated and sour-faced. And I don't blame them, really. Though many a times, they added to my pain with their irate cursing and rough driving.

But once in a long long while, one encounters a gem of a driver, whom, after all the long suffering ones I've been used to, is a godsend.

And that night I met one of these.

When boarding, he very politely but firmly requested the passengers on the bus to move further in so that more people could get on.

Then, he took care to ensure that the last passenger nearest to the entrance was safely standing before closing the doors.

He drove carefully and handled the bus steadily (no jamming of brakes or sudden wide swerves) at a reasonable (read: safe but not turtle-like) speed.

The most amazing thing? As the bus approaches each stop, he announces the location of the stop (yes! like on MRTs!!), for the benefit of passengers wedged in the sardine-pack who might not be able to see where the bus is headed.

And at the stops, he makes sure that all who wanted to alight gets off, consulting the multi-view CCTV-like screen at the driver's seat (yes they have those now) and even asking if there's anyone else who's alighting before leaving the stop.

All these with a cheerful disposition and remarkable patience, unfazed by rude impatient drivers who cut into his lane without signals, or irate passengers who tsk at being asked to move in.

In such situations when tempers can easily flare, and patience runs thin, I'm immensely impressed.

Such is excellent service. And kudos to him for taking such pride in his job. If more could have his mindset, we would have so much less dissatisfied passengers, and the drivers would derive more satisfaction from their jobs. Everyone's lives could be better off.

As usual, it's a matter of perspectives. Unfortunately, not everyone has the propensity to look beyond their own frustrations to see the light.

So, I shall just content with feeling comforted that such wisdom, albeit rare, does exist.

There is still hope yet.

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