Be The Connector

This is something I’ve felt strongly about since my first pregnancy and taking public transport in Singapore.

The idea is that we have better chance motivating a few “connectors” than motivating the general public to be more observant and give up their seats or do the right thing - which varies from moving in to make more boarding space, placing your bags on the floor to prevent “hitting” others, being more considerate by using headphones etc.

It’s clear that many commuters are simply not aware of the environment they are in. They can be engaged in chatting with others or on the phone, browsing their tablets and mobile, reading the papers, sleeping - you name it, we’re doing it. Also, during peak hours, we’re packed like sardines and can barely see past the hairdo of the person in front of us. It can be difficult to notice a young child, senior citizen, disabled or pregnant lady.

Therefore, I started being the “connector” at appropriate moments. Noticing when a standing person needed a seat more, I would then pair him/her with a sitting person who would likely give up his/her seat (note that this person may be sitting on normal seats and not designated seats for kids/seniors/disabled/pregnant).

The pairings are always successful and I realised that it was easier for me, a third person to diffuse situations like the below -

1. Standing person adamant they are ok to stand 

2. Standing person somewhat angry thinking those sitting are ignoring him/her

3. Sitting person being embarrassed for not noticing

4. Sitting person too shy or far away from standing person to reach out

A third person can always put things into perspective by noticing, reaching out politely and give others a chance to do the right thing. It’s modelling good behaviour and providing motivation for good deeds to happen, rather than wait for them to occur.

It doesn’t take much effort but rather, takes that bit of confidence in people. Confidence that deep down inside, people are good and when given the opportunity, care enough to help. We can help re-connect this goodness in simple ways and seeing their smiles is reward enough.

I’m writing this as I enter my third trimester of my second pregnancy 2 years later and trust me, it’s harder asking for a seat on public transport for myself. it was so much easier connecting others because when I didn’t need the seat, I was just being a good Samaritan who wasn’t benefiting directly (though I gained much joy and satisfaction). However, now that I need the seat, it seems almost presumptuous or demanding to ask for it. It doesn’t stop me from asking when appropriate and still trying to connect others but this somehow takes more effort.

Therefore I urge you to be the “connector”, you’ll be appreciated and no doubt feel good about yourself too. So the next time you’re on the bus or MRT, look out for these opportunities to show the graciousness we have in us all.

(Although I used public transport as an example, we can easily extend this to connecting people in other situations - pairing people who have certain knowledge or skill sets to help those in need; recommending good businesses/services/products to those who require the same; standing up for another who dare not speak up against wrongdoers.)

Celebrating the Woon 365 days ago today