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Singaporean-ness on view at coffee shop

The other day I went to my neighbourhood coffee shop for dinner, as I usually do. I decided to eat Western food and the stallholder greeted me politely.

The other stallholders, even though they would have recognised me because I order from them regularly, took no notice of me.

Here's the thing - they will greet you or even just smile only if you order from them. Otherwise, they will not acknowledge your presence.

This is typical of Singapore. The hawkers see you only as a source of business, not as a person. You are never a friend, only a transaction.

Then something else, equally typical, happened. The parking warden came around and I noticed the drivers of a brand new BMW and a Mercedes quickly running to their cars to avoid being fined.

They could afford $250,000 cars but were trying to avoid paying for a 60 cent parking coupon.

Funny, don't you think? But this is Singapore.

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