The shouting man
I was headed to the MRT station from school today when I heard a man shouting at a bunch of senior students from my school. Curious as to what exactly he was spouting (perhaps he was complaining about certain inconsiderate actions the students were guilty of), I stopped for a moment to listen to what he had to say.
It soon became clear, however, that his grievances had little to do with the students themselves. The man was angrily telling them that the whole lot of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths, that these evil elite institutions had no right to exist, that the students’ powerful gahmen parents had screwed up the way the country was being run real bad. I’m not sure what I would have done in the past – I’m ashamed to admit that I’d probably have done the Singaporean thing and just walked on by – but now that I was an employee of the school, I decided to intervene.
“Excuse me sir, could you please stop shouting at the students?” I asked. Perhaps not the best start, but I managed to deflect his attention from them (whom I signalled to walk away quickly). He continued shouting at me for awhile, and although initially irritated with him, I gradually came to sympathise with him. Clearly, the man must have been under a tremendous amount of stress. I started trying to talk to him instead, to enquire about the source of his pain, as we started walking towards the train station.
I never did find out what was bothering him so deeply in the few minutes that ensued, but by the time we reached the station his volume had gone down noticeably. I wasn’t able to help him in any concrete way during this brief encounter, but I do hope that my (rather minimal) show of concern and willingness to hear his thoughts helped him in his troubled state.