The Road to the Singaporean Dream: Blue-collar Edition
Images: Zachary Tang.

This is the fourth in a series of stories told to us by Singaporeans from varying walks of life. The process was simple: meet someone on the street and spend time with them talking about life. Singaporeans often think other Singaporeans are boring, but everyone has a story to tell. Sometimes, you just have to ask.

Jonathan, 31. In his car from Chinatown to the Singapore Sports Hub. 04:45 PM

I drive for around 13 to 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. My day usually stars at 8 AM and it’ll be about 10:30 PM when I get home after my last trip. For the past 3 years, my life has been this way. 

Shag is, of course, shag la but being a Grab driver’s not too bad. You can set your own working hours and there’s no boss to shout at you if you’re a bit late. Let’s say something urgent pops up one day, you just start a bit later lor, and end your day later if you want to. You have that choice. I have more freedom and flexibility as compared to my previous job in sales.

The money is okay also, definitely better before the industry got so competitive yet still good enough to make a living. You know those old uncles who drive grab? They’re probably retired and just drive a few times a week to earn a bit of cash here and there while covering the rental cost of the car. If you want to make good money, however, you really have to commit the hours and put in the effort. It’s extremely tiring but that’s life la, right?

Qualification-wise, I don’t have much. The highest I have is only N’ levels because I didn’t like to study. Went ITE after secondary school but also dropped out halfway. I did some stupid things with my friends la when I was younger. Got police case. 

Last time young then one big group mah. We’d always go out together; don’t go home that type. And when the money ran out but we still wanted to stay out then go rob lor. Rob phone, rob money.

It was really damn stupid la. I eventually surrendered and ended up being put on probation for 2 years since it was my first offence. If I could go back in time, I would confirm stop my 16-year-old self from doing such a dumb thing. So yeah, now I’m doing this. People like me don’t get to earn as much outside compared to others whether they have ‘nicer’ certs or not; whether they’re working in an office or not. 

I’ll probably be doing this for a while unless I find a job with a higher pay. Do I regret dropping out of school? A little bit. But I don’t think I’ll be going back. I can’t afford to. I have my parents to support and bank debts to repay

My old job was commission-based so I used to earn quite a lot last time. When I included overtime pay, really not bad. But I didn’t keep track of my credit card spending la. I overspent on holidays; my car; gambling. I still manage to save after repaying my loans every month but it’s not much. Slowly. Having debts is very normal in Singapore after all. 

I’m not afraid of hard work. As long as the job pays well, why not? I’ll do it. The good thing is that I’m still relatively young. I have energy so I can still chiong. I don’t think I’ll be able to in another 10 years’ time so while I’m able to, just chiong lor. Do as much as I can first.

No la, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m super happy—more like content. But all things considered, life is still good. It helps that my girlfriend is supportive. I met her through a friend and she’s who I spend most of my time with when I’m not working or resting.

We’ve been together for about 2 plus years already and are thinking of settling down soon. Not so soon though! There’s a lot to think about: balloting for a flat, the down payment, the cost of renovation, all of that. We need to save more first.

Then again, even though money solves so many problems, it isn’t the most important thing. Health is. You need to be in good health to enjoy the money you work so hard for. If not, what’s the point?

Did you know this isn’t even my regular car? It’s a rental because my relief driver got into an accident just a few days ago. Frankly, I can’t say it wasn’t completely unexpected. Accidents are bound to happen when you’re on the road for such a long stretch every day. Just pray that there are no injuries should something like that happen. 

Money can always be earned back. I’ve learnt that it’s no big deal if you bang into someone else’s or they scratch your car. Just make a report and file the claims lor. Yes, it might be troublesome but the most important thing is that everyone is safe at the end of the day. 

Seriously, life is the most important. You can’t get it back once it’s gone. 

Anyway, thanks for chatting with me. Sometimes I do hope my passengers talk to me because it can get very boring driving the whole day in silence. Every day see car only. This was nice. 

Have something to say about this story? Tell us at

Loading next article...