It's not a secret that we Singaporeans are constantly on the move. Be it working long hours to shuttling the kids from school to tuition to music lessons, the only time we get a break in our hectic schedules is when we're stuck in traffic or in squishy public transportation.
The majority of us are usually so caught up in our busy lifestyles that we fail to notice those who tend to make our lives easier. These quiet heroes are working jobs that ensure that our society functions smoothly. They are normally so quiet playing their role that we don't even realise they are there doing the amazing work they do until they are not there and we suddenly realise how inconvenienced our lives become.
Let's pay tribute to 4 of these unsung heroes.
Year after year, our city is lauded by tourists and other countries as clean and green, a garden city, or most recently, a city in a garden. And yet, the ones really responsible for maintaining this pristine cleanliness go relatively unappreciated. Who are they? The cleaners, of course.
Whether cleaning the toilets, sweeping the streets, or clearing up after you once you're done with your meal at the hawker centre, they are the ones who work tirelessly for long hours to uphold Singapore's squeaky-clean image.
It's rather saddening that a majority of our cleaners are of the elderly generation. It's such a difficult way of earning a living, that we as considerable citizens should play our part by disposing of our litter in a proper way, and clear our own trays after we are done eating to do all we can to make the lives of our cleaners easier.
I applaud nurses. Not only do we often not see the contributions they make, they are pretty much the backbone of the medical community. Disagree? Let's see those doctors and surgeons handle a full day of work by themselves then.
Not to discredit the works of your family GP or neighbourhood dentist, but this article is about quiet heroes, and while Dr. Tan may be the one explaining your medical conditions, it's the nurses who are often to one tending to your wounds, dressing them, and distributing your medication.
Furthermore, they are subjected to 24/7 working shifts to ensure that patients can receive immediate medical treatment when required. And trust me when I say that cleaning up of faeces is largely part of their duties. So the next time you're at your annual dental checkup or at the clinic "keng"-ing an MC, don't forget to say thank you to the nurses working there.
3. Bus Drivers/MRT Station Staff
Admit it - when was the last time we genuinely smiled or thanked our friendly bus uncle whenever we boarded a bus? Or when was the last time we acknowledged the auntie with the lit baton standing at the MRT station platform to guide commuters during rush hours? We were probably too busy trying to rush for that empty seat that it simply slipped our minds.
Bus drivers and MRT staff work long hours, on both weekdays and weekends. They even work during public holidays just to ensure that we have a functioning form of transportation. Most of them are simply trying to earn a living and even so, they are at times faced with verbal or even physical abuse by commuters.
We should never assume that they have it easy - for bus drivers to drive the same routes day in and day out (can you imagine driving from Woodlands to Changi Airport over 10 times a day?!), or for MRT staff to work those long hours dealing with multitudes of commuters. The least we can do is to say thank you, and to be a considerate passenger.
4. Construction Workers
Here in Singapore, with every turn of a head, a swanky new shopping mall pops up. We tend to overlook the people who literally built that roof over our heads however - the construction workers.
In a 2014 census, there are 1.32 million foreign workers in Singapore and a bulk of them work in the construction sector. Because of this, construction workers are sometimes placed in a negative light and ostracised by Singaporeans. It's easy to judge and stereotype, but a lot harder to put ourselves in their shoes.
We often see them working relentlessly under the hot afternoon sun, simply to ensure that the roads, buildings and even the scrubs by the side of the roads are completed. They often work for little pay, and from what they earn, most of it is sent back to their home country to raise their families.
These quiet heroes in Singapore aren't always appreciated for what they do, but they are the ones who help make our lives a whole lot better. So the next time you come across a construction worker or two, show them some kindness and recognition. Whether it's giving them a simple smile or buying them a cold bottle of water as they work in the sweltering heat, all these little kind acts will be deeply felt.