McDonald's aunty story brings out the best in Singaporeans
Singaporeans, you are much more gracious than you think.
Sure, you'll fight tooth and nail for the last Hello Kitty toy at McDonald's.
But when it comes to the needy, you too, will go the extra mile to help them.
Last week, an elderly woman made headlines when she asked people to buy her a meal at the McDonald's outlet in Toa Payoh HDB Hub.
She had approached Ms Si Ti, who agreed to pay for her meal.
The McDonald's staff then told the aunty that she wasn't allowed to beg for food, which enraged Ms Si Ti.
Hotly debated online
She posted a detailed account of what happened on her Facebook page. The post went viral.
The McDonald's aunty story is still being hotly debated on social media.
But in its aftermath, acts of kindness from Singaporeans who have read about the aunty's plight have emerged.
A McDonald’s spokesman told The New Paper that people have been going to various McDonald's restaurants and leaving their name cards with the staff.
They had approached the staff saying that they wanted to donate money so that they could help pay for meals for other people who share the aunty's plight.
As a result, the McDonald's spokesman said they are currently in talks with other charity organisations in Singapore to see how they can facilitate these donations from the public and channel them to those in need.
"We are exploring possible options with community organisations who would be best placed to administer and sustain social welfare programmes to help the needy in the community.
"On a related note, we do have existing programmes in which we work to give back to our community. For example, we currently partner community organisations who distribute meal vouchers to needy families and communities. These vouchers are donated by customers."
Last week, emotions had ran high following the aunty's attempt at getting a meal.
According to Ms Si Ti's Facebook post, this was what transpired at the McDonald's outlet in Toa Payoh HDB Hub (pictured below).
On June 14, Ms Si Ti said she was approached by an old lady with a hunched back outside of the restaurant.
She said the aunty asked her if she could buy her some chicken nuggets and a hot Milo.
She then took the aunty into McDonald's to order for her food.
Wrote Ms Si Ti: "I was appalled when the counter staff started shouting at and mocking the old lady for not having money to pay for her own meal.
"The staff kept screaming and threatened to call the police to chase her away.
"She blatantly announced that this old lady comes to the restaurant regularly and would ask strangers to buy her a meal.
"The staff even told me off for wanting to pay for the meal, saying that by doing so, I was encouraging this old lady to keep returning.
"When I insisted (on still buying the meal), she refused to take the old lady's orders and would proceed only when I personally made the order."
Ms Si Ti said that she was angry because the aunty had not forced her into giving her a free meal.
That if it was her money, she should have the right to spend it as she pleases.
She wrote: "Clearly, they (the McDonald's staff) handled the situation in in poor taste. Because to humiliate someone over her inability to pay for her meal is downright cruel.
"...Anyways, just thought the management should know...
"Your chicken nuggets and hot milo drink left an adorable old lady grinning like she was the luckiest woman on earth.
"That grin would have been wider, had your employees treated her with kindness instead."
While many netizens agreed with Ms Si Ti that she should have the right to buy the aunty the meal should she please, others felt that the McDonald's staff tried to protect the interests of customers who may have felt harassed by the old woman.
Answering to media queries, the restaurant's spokesman said the McDonald's staff involved in the incident "under no circumstances should they raise their voices at a customer – and they have expressed remorse over the incident".
She told TNP:
"Our policy is to approach these situations with compassion and courtesy. This lady is a frequent visitor to our restaurant and we have, on occasion, offered drinks and paid for her meals.
"However, as a restaurant, we also have to ensure that the needs of all our customers are taken care of as well. Moving ahead, our restaurant team will offer her a seat and hot drinks when she visits."
When interviewed, frequent patrons of the McDonald's outlet at Toa Payoh HDB Hub said that they didn't see anything wrong with the aunty begging for food.
Undergraduate Chen Shangwei, in his 20s, said he doesn't consider it harassment if an elderly person were to ask him to pay for his or her meal.
"If it's a $10 meal, it's not something that I will say no to (or begrudge her)."
Mrs Rose Tan, a 57-year-old HR manager and Toa Payoh resident who visits that McDonald's outlet almost every day at lunch time, said she has never seen the old woman before.
She said: "I mean, people can always tell the woman no if they don't want to buy food for her from their own pocket.
"I don't think about whether she's trying to con me, she's just an elderly woman who may need help.
"We don't know anything about her circumstances."
Will you help the aunty? Take the poll and tell us: