I saved $1.72 on NS50 Free Travel Day
After 50 years of young Singaporean men giving up the best years of our lives serving our nation, all we get is one measly day of free bus and train rides?
And NS50 Free Travel Day wasn't even on a Saturday or Sunday when you can go out and enjoy yourself.
It was last Friday when most people had to work.
Sure, you could take the train for free to see Britney Spears that night, but still.
Only current and former servicemen were eligible for the free rides. And to prove you were eligible, you had to wear your service uniform.
That's no problem for current servicemen, but for "lao peng" ("old soldiers") like myself, even if we do have our old uniform, would it still fit?
Forget it. I'm not so cheapskate.
I wasn't going to dig out my musty old uniform just to save $1.72 on the MRT ride to work.
But then I realised that I have yet to receive my NS50 Recognition Package which consists of $100 worth of vouchers and this Free Travel Day could be all I'm getting.
Who was I kidding?
I am a cheapskate.
I decided to dig out my musty old uniform just to save $1.72 on the MRT ride to work.
$1.72 is better than nothing.
It has been 11 years since I was "retired" as a navy medic.
I'm proud to say that as a medic, I may not have saved anyone's life, but I didn't get anyone killed either.
Because I started my national service in the army before joining the navy, I have three different sets of uniforms I could wear for NS50 Free Travel Day.
Unfortunately, I could no longer fit into the pants of my army No. 4 and navy No. 3 due to all the rainbow cake I ate.
Fortunately, I could still fit into my old navy No. 4 because it's a coverall, which is more forgiving to my 51-year-old waistline.
Unfortunately, the coverall makes me look less like a serviceman and more like a repairman.
Fortunately for current navy servicemen, the navy No. 4 uniform has since been updated to match the army No. 4 so they look like actual soldiers.
Unfortunately for me, I have only the old navy No. 4 uniform so I look like an actual mechanic.
To make sure the MRT station staff wouldn't mistake me for someone you'd call to fix the air-conditioning, I wore a cap that says Republic of Singapore Navy right upfront.
The cap also helped to cover up another problem - my long hair. Even though my Kylo Ren mane looks wildly out of place in uniform, I wasn't going to cut it just for one day of free travel. Two days, maybe.
Instead, I tied my hair in a ponytail and put on the cap, and hey, presto, I looked like I had an acceptable military haircut. From the front at least.
All this just to save $1.72.
I couldn't wait for NS50 Free Travel Day.
Friday eventually came and, of course, there was an MRT breakdown. The morning rush-hour delay affected trains from Woodlands to Ang Mo Kio stations.
SMRT's theme song should be Oops!... I Did It Again after it hit us, baby, one more time with another breakdown.
It was the fourth service disruption in four days. Even on NS50 Free Travel Day.
This is the thanks we get for sacrificing the best years of our lives for our country?
Hey, SMRT, never mind the free travel. Just get us to work on time! I'll give you the $1.72.
When I arrived at my workplace, a colleague couldn't believe I actually wore my faded old SAF uniform just to get a free ride. "Have you no dignity?" he asked.
No, I gave it up for $1.72.
At least I didn't cut my hair.
I'm still waiting for my NS50 Recognition Package vouchers.