Friday, March 04, 2005

Feed the birds... tuppence a bag...

I had lunch today with some of my girl-colleagues at Delifrance… we had lunch there because Steph wanted to pick up some toiletries from Sasa afterwards.

I had a lovely tuna sandwich with wholemeal bread and cranberry-grapefruit juice. Steph had chicken on French bread with a diet coke. While we were eating, an old lady walked up to us and tried to take away Steph’s can of coke. Steph stopped her and told her that she hasn’t finished her coke yet. The lady walked away but came back again and tried to pour away the coke to take the can. Again, we tried to stop her. She tried again a third time – this time Steph quickly finished her drink and gave the can to the lady. We felt quite puzzled and slightly irritated that Delifrance allowed this old lady to disturb customers like this.

Later we talked to the manager about this. The manager apologised and explained that this old lady was “helping out” at the restaurant in return for free food. The look on the manager’s face showed that she agreed that the old lady was rather dotty but at the same time she pleaded with her eyes to have some sympathy. Of course we didn’t raise a fuss… we did not intend to… but we felt quite sad for the old lady.

She was tired-looking and wore a typical “samfoo” type of outfit – rather shabby and faded. And she had a vacant look in her eyes as she pottered about clearing tables and collecting empty coke cans to earn some recycling money. When not clearing tables, she would sit hunched in a corner… waiting… waiting for someone to leave an empty coke can behind.

When I think of the lady… I cannot help but feel a slight distaste…. for myself as a young woman in her prime, walking past and ignoring so many like her. I am reminded by a song in the movie “Marry Poppins” when Julie Andrews sings “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag” about a dirty old “bird-lady” who calls people to buy bird seed for tuppence to feed the birds. And I am reminded to open my eyes and look around and see these people… and remember them.

1 comment:

  1. I am surprised that there are still hard-pressed people who are desperate to earn a few more cents to survive in Singapore. Well, then, whether it is the most affluent country in the world or the poorest, there bound to be some who are less fortunate and are in need. That's the way God uses this little things to remind us of how fortunate we are compared to so many. Give thanks.


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