Train Delays Teach Us Life Skills

Image credit: Straits Times

When people bitch about the MRT breaking down these days, I always feel a bit puzzled.

People like me know that there is a very specific kind of bus out there that is always single-decker, packed as hell, and can take anything between 5 and 25 minutes to arrive. Sometimes the bus number is 39, sometimes it’s 186.

Why aren’t we talking about this instead? Why are train delays the ones that always make the news?

The longest I’ve ever had to wait for one such bus was 24 minutes. It was long enough for me to want a car, but not long enough for me to remember I can’t afford one.

When the bus finally arrived and I got to sit in that nice, plastic smelling leather seat, I felt this an orgasmic sensation of sweat evaporating from both my skin and shirt at the same time. I felt truly grateful to be Singaporean.

I recall turning to a fellow commuter and saying, “Shiok right?”

And all she could manage in reply was, “Ya, wow.”

That’s how speechless we both were. Of course, some other passengers complained loudly about how late the bus was. But they didn’t get it. I had replied 51 emails while waiting, why hadn’t they done the same?

Furthermore, they didn’t understand that the bus had been “late” on purpose. If not for this “late” bus, none of us would have learned that you can either take the bus you love, or you can love the bus you take. I don’t see what other explanation there was.

So like I said, why talk about train delays when bus delays are just as important?

Some people have said that these buses are not inconsistent, just infrequent. But I think our government has it all planned out, or they wouldn’t have been the government for as long as they have.

And let me ask you this. When was the last time you thought about all the bad decisions you’ve made?

Don’t tell me. During a train delay, am I right?

So when people say they don’t know what SMRT or the Transport Ministry is doing, all I can say is, “Really?”

How is it not obvious that we’re being taught the importance of slowing down, spending time to reflect, and learning to manage our expectations? We need to learn this kind of fortitude.

Honestly, I’m surprised when Singaporeans complain that our education system doesn’t teach us any of these life skills. Can’t they see that it’s actually our public transport system that does?

Train delays are all about learning to be introspective and figuring out your purpose in life.

I truly envy those who get to experience this on a daily basis, especially those 30 minute delays that are long enough to get you thinking, but not long enough to make you want to do anything.

These days, however, I’ve been more concerned about Singaporeans who aren’t fortunate enough to take public transport. For those who drive and don’t get to experience train delays, how will they learn these valuable life skills?

I feel very strongly that our government should do something about this loophole.

This is a teaser for a new column that we’re launching soon, which will aspire to humorously mirror Straits Times forum letters.
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