Greeting guests with a smile for 40 years
To some, holding the same job for decades might be hard to imagine.
But for one man, passion and loyalty has kept him devoted to his job for a whopping 40 years.
Mr Syed Kadir Syed Hameed is a doorman at Royal Plaza on Scotts.
Even at 63, a year past retirement age, has no plans to leave.
"My job makes me more than happy.
"I really love it. I hope to always be healthy so that I can continue working as a doorman here," Mr Syed Kadir told The New Paper in Malay during our interview at Royal Plaza on Scotts.
The father of five and grandfather to seven, became a doorman at the hotel - back then, it was known as the Holiday Inn Hotel Singapore - on Aug 5, 1977.
He was 23, it was his first full-time job - and he hopes - his last.
As doorman, Mr Syed Kadir is the first member of the Scotts team that guests see upon arrival.
Always with a kind smile on his face, Mr Syed Kadir warmly greets each guest and wishes them a safe journey when they leave.
He helps them with their luggage and offers directions when needed.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
He also thinks nothing of going beyond his duty to provide the best service - to guests or even passers-by.
He recalled: "I was on the morning shift and a guest who was wearing capal (a type of traditional open-toed shoe) said that he needed to go to the office."
The guest was concerned because he needed his footwear to be more formal.
"His friends were already waiting for him. I said, 'okay, no problem', and offered him my shoes to wear.
"I took his shoes and walked around in my socks to leave the capal with the concierge. Thankfully, I had an extra pair of shoes," he said with a laugh.
Mr Syed Kadir often goes the extra mile - even helping members of the public he sees in need at the bus stop in front of the hotel.
He once helped a blind man he spotted having trouble boarding the bus and rushed to help a lady when she fell at the stop.
These acts of service throughout the years have earned him letters of compliment, and later, e-mails of praise.
This has led to numerous awards over the years, including a High Performer Award (Star Performer) as well as an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) Champion for Passion & Making a Difference award.
But the prizes are nothing compared to the satisfaction of helping.
"The best thing about the job is getting to interact with guests. As a doorman, the most important thing is to take care of them. If we provide them with the best service that we can, they feel welcomed and will continue to return to Royal Plaza on Scotts in the future," he said.
The hotel's director of operations Neeta Dave, who called his conduct "exemplary", told TNP: "What impresses me is that Mr Syed knows many returning guests by their first names and these guests often greet him back in the same way, making them feel more like friends to him than just guests.
"Occasionally, he would receive gifts that guests brought from their home country, such as sarongs, keropok and dried mangoes, because they want to thank him for his hospitality. They also enjoy sharing their family’s and children’s milestones with him."
Mr Syed Kadir told TNP that his guiding principles in life and at work are the same ones he imparts to his children.
"I often tell my children that they need to solve problems at work. Never say 'I can't'. Try their best, be happy at work and be kind to others. Always help others and don't hurt them. If we don't hurt others, life will be peaceful and easy."
While his job comes with its challenges, it also has its perks.
MEETING IMPORTANT GUESTS
Mr Syed Kadir often gets to shake hands with notable celebrities as well as some high-ranking VIPs. These include the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah; Malaysian singer Sheila Majid; Singaporean actor Aaron Aziz and many more.
Many return the kindness that he has shown them.
"The Brunei royal family are very nice to me. They will tell me: 'Syed, the whole of Brunei knows you'," said Mr Syed Kadir with a smile.
After 40 years, and having seen huge changes on Scotts Road (he began work there five years before Far East Plaza opened), his workplace is like his second home.
It will always hold a special place in his heart.
"God-willing, if I am granted good health, I will continue to work here for a long time. I won't leave. If I wanted to quit, I would have done so a long time ago."