City life is hectic, people rushing from point A to point B, worrying about work, relationships, and finances. Time passes from moment to moment and very often we rarely take a minute to look up from our smartphones to notice the world around us.
I’d been waiting in a queue outside Tampines One, a mall near my home in Singapore. Hot, sweaty, and a bit impatient, I was hoping that I wouldn’t be late for my appointment when a group of taxis pulled up. I quickly jumped in one and wished the driver a good day. Not expecting a response, he kindly wished me well and asked me where I needed to go. Immediately noticing his cheery manner, I explained to him that my destination was new to me and I’d have to trust his expertise in getting me there.
My surprise at his gentle nature was not because all taxi drivers here are rude, but, as is often the case, they too are in a hurry, frustrated, and fed up dealing with insolent people all day; a job I will admit you could not pay me enough to do. Sympathetic to the jaded position these overworked drivers experience, I try to always have at least a kind greeting for them.
As we headed toward my destination the driver introduced himself and thoughtfully asked me if I’d had my lunch. I was truly taken aback by his humanity.
During the drive we casually chatted about life in Singapore, changes that we’d both noticed over the years, good and bad, and our perspective jobs. He made mention of my kindness toward him and I thanked him for his. He then proudly produced a copy of an article that had been written about him in the local paper. In a nutshell it commended him for being kind, generous, and gregarious toward his customers. He also pointed out the sticker proudly displayed in the left corner of his windshield. The accolade simply stated, “ Service Champion”. I wholeheartedly agreed! He later revealed that he was the only taxi driver to have been awarded with it.
Before I knew it I was at my stop and, for the first time ever, a small part of me wished that the ride had been a bit longer.
After paying him I walked away with a smile on my face, and that got me thinking about how a simple act of kindness like a few nice words can set the path for the rest of your day. I felt uplifted, optimistic, and less rushed. It occurred to me how our attitudes toward life are basically a choice. Bad things are going to happen anyway, but how we choose to deal with them is solely dependent on us.
So, thank you Mr. Tan Poh Seng for your smile, your kind words, your caring inquiries. Thank you for making my day, for genuinely caring about my wellbeing, and making the world a little easier to deal with.
My lesson today was this…take the time to really look, notice the person you’re sitting next to on the subway, the girl that hands you your morning coffee, the man that sells you your daily paper and smile, offer them a compassionate greeting, ask how their day is and really mean it. It may just cheer them up and help them to forget life’s troubles for a few fleeting minutes.
If you look for kindness you’ll find kindness and when you least expect it, it can sneak up and find you right back!
Have you every ridden with Mr Seng? Share your experiences with us!