In these Covid times, what would you do if you saw an elderly stranger struggling to cross the road in the middle of the night?
One Scottish man did not hesitate to lend a helping hand, literally.
In a video uploaded on Facebook on 28 Sept, a Caucasian man can be seen helping an elderly man slowly across the road. The incident happened at 56 Lorong 25A Geylang at about 3am.
In the 42-second clip, the elderly man can’t walk very fast and the pedestrian crossing light turns red while the duo are halfway across, but they still manage to reach the other side safely.
According to the Facebook post, put up by another customer at the coffee shop who had filmed the incident, the younger man even bought the elderly man disposable underwear and wet wipes at a nearby 7-Eleven after discovering that he had soiled himself.
Helping an elderly man in need
The Caucasian man, 42-year-old Gavin McCloy from Scotland, tells The Pride that he has been working in Singapore since January. On Sept 28, he had stopped by the coffee shop – 25 Food Loft – for a drink after cycling when he noticed the elderly man.
“I looked across the road and I knew the elderly man wasn’t drunk. I could tell that he genuinely needed help. He was very old and frail. He didn’t have a walking aid. He was leaning over to one side… almost falling over. That was my main concern – if he falls over at that age, it could be dangerous,” Gavin says.
“When we got to the coffee shop, he was reluctant to sit down as his trousers were wet. I said to myself I need to help him more. I didn’t want to leave him there.”
“I told the guys at the coffee shop to talk to him and make sure he was okay because I don’t speak Mandarin. Then I went into the 7-Eleven and bought a few packets of disposable underwear and wet wipes.”
The man tried to give him some money, but Gavin refused to accept it, telling The Pride that he would have bought him a new pair of trousers but the shops were not open. He even thought of going back to his condominium to get a pair of shorts for him, he says.
The elderly man did not have a mask on, but that did not deter Gavin from reaching out.
He says: “I had to put myself in a position where I would break social distancing rules but you don’t think about that when another human being is in need.”
“I didn’t know where he stayed, or whether he had family around. I didn’t have any information about him. He was a complete stranger, but there’s no way I could see someone, especially an elderly person, struggle and not help.”
He says that back in Scotland when he was younger, his mother worked as a carer in an old folks home and he used to go over after school to play the piano for the old folks there.
As it was getting late, Gavin left the coffee shop and told the customers there to take care of the elderly man.
He does not know how the man is now, but he tells The Pride that he would like to find out if he is okay and receiving appropriate help and treatment.
Responding to negative comments
Since the video was posted on social media, netizens have lauded Gavin’s act of kindness.
However, there were several who called out Gavin’s lack of social distancing, and even questioned his motivation behind publicising the act.
In response to the comments, Gavin says: “Sharing good deeds encourages others to do the same. The only reason that pleases me seeing (the video) published is to inspire others to think, if they are out and they see an older person, to buy them a coffee or help them out.”
“A lot of older people are invisible in society. It’s the same in the UK, and all over the world.”
“Some people only see the worst in things instead of seeing the beauty. They choose hate instead of love, fear instead of hope, suspicion instead of trust.”
“If someone recorded it and it goes online, I’m happy too because the only thing that can come out of it is to inspire others to look out for those in need, especially in Covid times.”
The netizen who uploaded the video, Fei Cheong, also responded to some of the negativity with a second post on 6 Oct saying: “Why do people think like this? I told the foreigner, ‘Heaven knows your kindness and you don’t need to care about what others say… If doing good deeds and letting everyone know is showing off, I hope everyone will show off more!’”
There’s another silver lining to the incident. Gavin, who lives alone, says that while the social aspect of being in Singapore has been challenging because of Covid-19, this incident has allowed him to connect with a stranger – and not just with the elderly uncle.
“(Fei Cheong) added me on Facebook and we found out that we were both keyboard players. We said that when Covid restrictions were over, we would have a jamming session. It was quite interesting. I also made a new friend.”