A heartfelt note was published on Facebook. It’s the voice of one man, but somehow, it powerfully encapsulated something we have discussed at length about, but yet to be able to put into words, and action…
Here is what he wrote.
“I’m not one to write about such issues here but when I do it is because it is of great importance to me.
2 weeks into the store’s opening, I had the chance to assist a very pleasant couple with their Primary 2 daughter who were looking out for some sea sport equipment to purchase. I ended up starting a light-hearted conversation with them, sharing with them my experiences in sailing when I was in Primary 1.
Slowly, the conversation moved on, and I mentioned I was sailing during my Junior College days as well, at which point the father paused and asked me which JC I was from, to which I replied Victoria JC.
The father then gave me a frown, and I quote him:
“I don’t understand. If you went to VJC, how come you’re working here?”
(To those who don’t know, VJC is supposedly one of the ‘better’ JCs, and by ‘here’, he’s referring to me as a sales person in *name of sports shop*.)
I was left speechless for a good second; I felt angry, offended, and just plain disgusted at what he said. Of course, he had no intention of such when he said it, so I kept my cool and tried to steer the conversation away, and finished our conversation without any issues.
Here’s what I feel strongly about, and I’m gonna say it.
DO NOT assume that people who are working in retail or any other form of service industry have UNEDUCATED backgrounds or do not have a “good education”. Service jobs are as necessary to the economy as any other job; they keep your meals cooked, your streets cleaned, your shopping experience pleasant, your clothes ironed, your cars running well and give you good advice on what kind of footwear your daughter needs when she goes to the beach.
DO NOT associate FORMAL EDUCATION with intelligence, ability, social status or any form of hierarchical category. Just because someone has come from a “better school”, or received a formal higher education does NOT make them better than someone else who didn’t. Likewise, just because a person did not receive a formal higher education does not make them a less-respectable member of our society. We are all human, we are all equal regardless of the qualifications we have or the positions we hold.
4 years working in retail has opened my eyes to some of the nicest, kindest, honest and hardworking people I’ve met and worked with in my life, who are normal everyday people. I’ve also met the “successful” and the “educated” who have money, cars and the nice shirts, but have the most rotten insides you can imagine.
Ruthless meritocracy has killed humanity in Singapore. Years of dog-eat-dog-styled academic sorting, emphasis on grades and systems that encourage individualism has killed compassion and care for others.
I feel sorry for the daughter who will grow up thinking her worth is based on how high her grades are, how reputable her schools are, and likewise, judge others’ worth on such, just like her father did.
People ask me if Singapore is a first-world nation.
I always tell them it’s a first-world economy with a third-world society.”
The misguided team-spirit of this village that is Singapore.
The note has since been shared repeatedly, and because we are touched by it, we would like to share it here too. The author of the note has set his privacy settings to “Friends Only” and we respect that.