Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What would you do?

I am all for respecting the elderly (reasonably), but what if the elderly in question is seemingly taking advantage of her "elderliness"?

Me and my friend regularly visit this particular food court. There is this elderly cleaner who always rudely order the diners to clear their own trays after eating, while mumbling about how she cannot clean the whole area herself (the food court is divided into several areas and she is only taking care of one. Honestly, I don't see why other old aunties can finish their job without any issue but she cannot.) 

Okay, maybe she has an aching back. But firstly, what's up with bossing the diners around rudely? Sometimes diners have already walked 5 meters away from their tables yet it doesn't stop her from shouting and pointing to their table and ordering them to go back and clean up before leaving. Sometimes she says it nicely while diners are eating. Sometimes no such issue. Depends on her mood I guess. I have visited the food court with many other friends and they too commented the same.

Secondly, isn't that her job? Of course, anyone who helps is a kind and considerate citizen. But that doesn't mean those who don't are horrible people and I don't think they deserve to be stopped and reprimanded like teacher to kids. There is no rule that diners must clear their own trays. Once, twice, thrice, I am more than willing to help clean up after myself upon her requests. After all, it doesn't hurt to lend a hand to help an old lady. However, after observing for many months at how she orders almost everyone in her area to do it, I feel that she is just lazy at her job and taking advantage of her right as an elderly. She knows nobody would be so cold-hearted to reject an old lady right? Maybe she did not do it intentionally, but it sure does look like that. If she ask everyone to clear their own trays, then what she do? There was once I saw her "bullying" her co-worker to cleaning up her area for her while she wipes the other tables at her own sweet time.

One fine day, me and my friend ate at the food court again, in her area. After lunch, I was walking few meters ahead of my friend when he got stopped by the aunty to bring his tray to her. She said "You finished eating? Clear your trays lah! I got no time!" At this point, we are already few tables away from our table. He quietly went back to clean up. Afterwards, we were discussing about that old lady and came to a conclusion that it is a lose-lose situation.

Things we can do when faced with certain unreasonable elderly people who think that just because they are old, they get the right of way of everything.

1. Keep quiet and do whatever they request, no matter what. Must respect elderly, they say. But this just encourages them to continue doing wrong, doesn't it?

2. Argue with the aunty, then kena filmed and stomped with the headline, "Able-bodied executive refuses to help old fragile aunty and argues with her in public". Online citizens will start throwing in horrible comments, judging the poor guy. I was joking to my friend about how he would be labelled as "the unkind man who refuses to help old aunty" by all his future potential employers.

3. Ignore the aunty and complain to management. I am usually against complaining about an individual server because it may jeopardize their rice bowls and they may really need the job. (There was once this taxi driver cheated me of an extra $10 blatantly and I was so angry that I considered writing in to complain as what everyone around me advised me to, but in the end I didn't because if he really intended on cheating me, karma will find its way to him naturally.)

Oh well, what would you do in such a situation?


  1. I would go for option 3. Be a civilized person than a being a bore by putting down our smartness to an elderly that don't deserve any respect. One who wants respect should show that he/she deserves rather than commanding for.

  2. Although I do not condone her behaviour as it is plain rude. It would be fine if she could remind diners to clear their trays after eating politely. By the way, there is actually a new policy that is introduced, around late 2014, that tells diners at hawker centres/ foodcourts to return their own trays. :) It might be her job, but it would be great for us all to be more gracious citizens together.

  3. in the first place, we should clear the trays altogether. try being in her position for one day and see how tiring that would be. don't be a snob, obviously you don't have any encounter with elderly living in poverty.

    1. I agree that it would be great if everyone could clear their own trays. However, not doing so does not make me a snob.

      I think her attitude as an employee is bad (I am not the only one who says this) and just because she is an elderly does not entitle her to special rights to order people around. An elderly living in poverty would cherish her job, not risk her job by scolding diners in the cafeteria. If she is so self-entitled, why not she just stay and home and continue earning her salary? An elderly taxi driver will not ask his passengers to drive themselves, neither would an elderly mcdonalds server get the customer to fry the fries themselves, no matter how tiring it may be. There are elderly people everywhere and they all do their jobs (some do it well some do it slow, but at least they make an effort), what makes it different for this aunty? Yes, we should all be patient towards elderly, but not when they are being blatantly unreasonable.