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Sunday, October 2, 2022
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GUY FROM POOR FAMILY: “NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING “2ND CLASS CITIZEN” IF YOU’RE NOT RICH”

After reading about this post, I kinda scoffed a bit about his experiences. It’s like going for a holiday in Europe for a week and suddenly, you come back with an accent. Don’t get me wrong. I do agree with him to a very large extent. But to me, his experience reminds me of those who go on oversea charity trips and taking selfies with them to showcase to their friends of the deed. It’s only on the surface. The experience is much deeper than that.

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So he comes from a family of privilege. Of cos his experience will be jarring, it’s like heaven and hell in comparison. For that, I really have to give him a lot of respect! Not many will even think of doing it.

But for me, it’s different, I come from a family on the opposite end. If his family is in the top 5%, I’m in the bottom 5%. They say education is the best equaliser for life. No, that’s assuming you don’t have any family baggage. I was smart and made it to JC. I made a lot of smart friends. Most went on to the upper echelon of society. Me? I was too distracted back then to know what I want.

But to summarise him, casual labor is just like 2nd class citizen. Making a delivery to a condo? Take the ‘Goods’ lift. Not the main lift. I will understand if I’m delivering bulking items. FFS, I was just holding an iPhone or 2 in my hand to deliver. Yeah. The main lift is not for delivery guys. If you’re just waiting outside a building because of the rain, the guard will shoo you away. But those office workers who are smoking, no prob for them. Oh sorry. Must be the helmet I’m holding. I’m dangerous. When I was delivering McD food on my bike, I could reach 4 mins later, and I would still get a complain from the customer for being slow and the new McD manager would berate me, only to learn from other McD staffs that I am the most reliable delivery guy.

It’s simple logic(according to them), if you’re smart, you won’t work casual jobs. You’ll be working office jobs instead. If you’re working casual jobs, you’re probably stupid and/or lazy and you deserve it. That’s the exact mentality of most of the people I met while working as a gig worker. There was a mum who advised her kid to study hard while in my car. If not, he will end up as a Grab driver like me. Most others will be pissed, but for me, I’m immune already. And maybe because I knew my self-worth. I would love to share to the mother that it’s just a job to earn extra money and I did alright while in NUS. But deep down, I knew some people won’t change. Why bother?

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Personally, I am a very curious and objective-oriented person. Once, I made it through a few interviews and landed myself a job as a trader. It was a nice environment where my more established colleagues are multi-millionaires while I was a noob. Even though I moved on since, the experience there was mind-blowing. There will be some people who throw their feet and bodies to them to sell insurance and stuffs. The things people will do for money! It reminds me Wolf of Wall Street but PG-rated. Similarly, I was earning 6 digit annual salary as a driver. I never knew that was possible. Crazy tax that year. But I enjoy interacting with some passengers who likes to think they are better than me. Especially foreign Indians. I was quite curious to know why they are generally like that. I gain a deeper perspective when I realised that drivers in India are really treated like crap because most do not have basic education at all. Meanwhile, in Singapore, we have diploma holders for drivers. It’s really a cultural thing for some of these foreigners who can be extra condescending and talks to you as though you’re an idiot.

Let’s talk about workers in the service industry. Facing similarly tough customers like casual workers, I thought that we would understand each other better. But no, your dressing matters. If you dress like crap, they will think that you’re poor and treat you like crap. I love wearing comfy clothings, but it will means they won’t talk nicely to you. On the other hand, sometimes I like to dress up on date nights, and most of the time, they will talk to you respectfully. It has come to a point that I don’t get bothered by them anymore. If it’s a restaurant, I’m more concerned if the food is nice or if it’s a boutique, I like the clothing and the fitting is good. But if people are wondering why some people are brand conscious, it’s probably how society reflects back on them otherwise. That’s why I like mamak shop. They provide good service regardless of your status. They will equally scold you if you’re too slow with your order. That’s the kind of equality I like.

The problem is with our society itself, we think highly of doctors, teachers and lawyers. But if you’re a driver, delivery guy or a cleaner, sorry. You’re nowhere near. With recent news of more younger gen becoming hawkers, I’m really happy that there are still some who don’t mind getting into ‘dirty’ jobs.

Even with families, they can be obvious too. They’ll humble brag if you’re working an office job. But they won’t be proud to say that their son is a Grab driver. And same for relatives, if it’s a dirty job, that we will just say, as long as got a job, good enough. LOL! It’s like as though I didn’t had a choice. Even with some friends or acquaintance, they can be condescending too. When they see my holiday trips every year, they will ask me how I afford it. Like, bro! Anyone can afford it. I manage my money well every month and rarely splurge. Those with kids, it’s your choice to spend more on the kids. Similarly to those who like to party or those who like to eat fancy food. Everyone can afford it, it’s just about putting your budget to the one that you want more. If you can’t have everything, just gotta choose wisely.

I’m not sure if there are many others like me. Life is too short to worry about the expectation from others. Just live your life happily. As long as you can manage your finances well, it’s good enough. If you’re contented living in a HDB flat, good for you! More to spend. I once had an interesting discussion with a GP teacher in JC. He was asking if anyone will be contented living in a 3 room flat. I was the only one raising my hand. He directed his attention to me, and went on to ask condescendingly why would I be satisfied in just a 3 room flat. Maybe I have a simple expectation of life. Coming from a broken family, I’m just happy to be contented with a happy home. The size of the flat does not matter at all. Forwarded some years later, I actually bought a BTO 3 room flat, flipped it for a BTO 5 room flat. And yes, I’m still contented now. Assuming a flat income, this will be probably the flat until I die. I rather spend extra money to go for holidays and etc.

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Being a 2nd class citizen is not so bad after all if you don’t come from a rich background. You definitely can’t control what others will say to you. Most will judge you based on your job, your skin colour, your race, your gender, your education, heck, even your height based on recent topics. But as long as you have faith in yourself, it’s easier not to be affected by others. For that same reason, I like to introduce myself as a grab driver. It makes it easier to filter off the judgemental people around you.

Those living a sheltered life, go ahead and become a delivery rider, PHV driver or even a cleaner. Be like that guy who did it for 6 months. You’ll be able to see the ugly side of Singaporeans clearer. But at the same time, you’ll also be able to see the beautiful side of some Singaporeans too. That 6 months for him is not enough to see the full harshness of casual workers. Welcome to my life!

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