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An Unexpected Conversation in the train

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever. - Linda Lambert

【Reflection】An Unexpected Conversation in the train


He took a second look around the train, before he eventually sat down on that priority seat. And he heaved a sigh of relief.


That middle aged man caught my eye in that slightly emptier early evening train on a weekday.

From my observation, his eyes were bloodshot, face almost as white as sheet and looking dazed, with his unkempt already-half-white hair. He wore an old, slightly stain-marked uniform, and carried a huge bag, possibly filled with his work equipments. After he sat down, he closed his tired-looking eyes, and he soon fell asleep, snoring quietly.

The train was heading back to Tuas Link station, and I was one of the last few passengers on board.

"Hello Uncle, we reached Tuas Link," I said as I shook him a little, embarrassed to wake him up from his well-deserved rest.

He jolted awake. Then he looked at me with his tired eyes. To my surprise, he replied, "I am heading back to my office in Kembangan. AHHH. I must have taken the wrong train because of my bad headache. Gosh, how long have I slept? Where are we?"

"About half an hour?" The words slipped out of my mouth before second thoughts, because I remembered clearly that he boarded the train at Dover station. I hope he doesn’t feel wary of me. “We are at Tuas Link station," I continued after an abrupt pause.

"Ahh, thank you for waking me up, little girl. I guess I need to sit all the way back to Kembangan now. But why are you at Tuas Link?" He probed.

I was taken aback and replied with an awkward smile, “I was supposed to alight at Pioneer to get home, but I was feeling feverish, so tired that I overslept and so … here I am at Tuas Link. Then I noticed you were still asleep, so I thought I’ll wake you up in case you need to alight here?” I ended off with a laugh.

“Ha, thank you. But now I need to head back to Kembangan. I just finished renovation for a client. And oh my, you look really tired too, rest well. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Always remember, take care of yourself before you can take care of others,” Uncle thoughtfully reminded and chattered on.

Those words, timely.

Uncle was a contractor, he just finished a long shift work for his client and settled the papers, so he was on his way back to office. And he shared that he was already in the industry for more than 40 years. He's been involved in many projects in building Singapore then, which left me in amazement.

He's been through those younger days not getting rest for days, which he kind of regretted at his age now. He hopes I'll pick up and remember this advice:

“There are endless things to be occupied with. Rest, because you need to, not only when your body reminds you to. ”

He smiled and waved goodbye as I alighted from the train after reaching my stop, his welcoming smile was bigger than his eyes.

"You too, Uncle. JIA YOU!" I cheered, already feeling the positive energy from our short - lived conversation.

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