I usually have quiet and restful train trips for my rides back to camp on Sundays. The journey to the western part of Singapore is usually accompanied with many similar sullen faces who happened to have to work the next day in the nearby industrial area. I would take the opportunity to spend that 45 minutes either reading a book, or day-dreaming about the day I finish my national service...
Last Sunday, I happened to be doing the former (since I am married to my computer at home) with great relish (it is a great book, but I accidentally left it in camp, so I am left with no title, and bookless when I have to get back to camp this Sunday evening) when I became aware of a skirmish between a Chinese expatriate and a local Singaporean.
The man sitting beside me, for some reason, wanted to swap seats with the lady opposite me. As they were getting up for the switch-a-roo, the chinese expatriates' son dashed for the lady's new seat. She told the young boy nicely to return her seat, which the sensible child did, to the total annoyance of his expatriate mother, whom exclaimed loudly, "My son sat on that seat first, why are you stealing his seat?"
The lady tried to explain herself: "I was just switching seats with the gentleman over there. Your son is right to return me my seat."
Of which the mother was thoroughly pissed, but was unwilling to confront the lady. She continued to grumble loudly, much to everyone's annoyance. To complete her condemnation, she berated her son many times for "giving up his seat to somebody who is not needy".
The mother-son alighted at an interchange a few stations after, and I thought that it signified the end of the whole episode. Far from it.
As I was hungrily pursuing the book, relieved again for the quiet, the lady started to do what the mother did, just minutes earlier.
"That china woman just now, you know? She very unreasonable!" She began, an anguished victim struggling with Singlish.
"These people, come here to steal our jobs, now they also want to steal our seats?"
"I tell you, we must send these people back to the cunning China hole they come from!"
It was at this juncture that I was really grateful for the timely arrival at the terminal station where I alighted, annoyed at both women, and the disturbed book reading. As I left the exit gantry gates, I could still hear her behind me with the poor passengers she managed to accost.
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