How would you deal with a frustrated and agitated stranger?

And how do you do it during these trying times when we’re told to practise social distancing and avoid coming into contact with others?

For one kind cleaner, she chose to help in whatever way she could.

On 21 Mar, bystander Matthew Zachary Liu was topping up his EZ-Link card at Lakeside MRT station when he was startled by a man’s yelling.

He turned to see a middle-aged man standing at the top-up machine next to him, struggling to make sense of its instructions. He seemed to be a foreigner. Like many of us who have used public transport while overseas, he was probably desperate to get somewhere, and, unable to top up his card, let his frustration get the better of him.

But fortunately for the man, a kind cleaner working at the MRT station was there to help.

In a Facebook post made on Mar 21 detailing the incident, Liu wrote: “Amidst the covid crisis and some of the racist, ugly human behaviours being posted on social media… there is this lady.”

In his post, Liu chronicled how the middle-aged man’s agitated shout caught the attention of the MRT station cleaner, who immediately walked over to assist him in whatever way she could.

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Speaking to The Pride, Liu said: “I didn’t feel the need to step in as she had it perfectly under control. I managed to snap a picture of the moment, and left.”

According to Liu, the woman went on to patiently explain what to do, despite the man’s seemingly agitated and aggressive tone.

“The thing is she didn’t have to; it wasn’t her job. Even more so now with everyone cautiously keeping a social distance and all,” Liu wrote. “But she did. And the amazing part is that she actually explained things to him in Mandarin!”

He added: “This lady is such a kind, intelligent, beautiful soul… an inspiration and reminder to some of us that regardless of race, nationality, social status or current crisis… we can all still be nicer and help one another in simple ways.”

Cleaner’s kind deed recognised by her employer

Liu simply wanted to chronicle the good deed he witnessed on his Facebook page. However, the kind woman’s actions soon drew over 250 comments and 1,200 shares.

“A beautiful soul indeed,” wrote one Sona Fariq as he shared Liu’s post.

“An act of kindness by the Indian lady,” wrote netizen Arissa Madeline. “It doesn’t cost a lot to be kind. Let’s spread kindness and be gracious!”

And thanks to everyone’s shares, the woman’s good deed didn’t go unnoticed.

According to Liu, an individual who requested to remain anonymous sent him a message on Facebook to say: “Just wanted to say thank you for sharing with the world the post on the lady helping the Chinese man at the MRT station.

“Because of [everyone’s shares], her company has recognised her efforts and commended her on it. During this tough period, it’s definitely nice and heartwarming to receive recognition!”

Remaining hopeful amid the outbreak

The cleaner’s kindness was also remarkable considering she rose above what many netizens saw as rude behaviour from the man. According to Liu, the man appeared to have calmed down by the time he left, but he did not mention this detail in his post.

In a Facebook update made a day later, Liu addressed those who criticised the man’s behaviour and explained why he chose to focus on the positive instead. “I choose to be on the side that uses this online platform to share hope, kindness and the good. Because in challenging times like this, we all need moments to uplift our spirits,” he wrote.

Liu added that such acts of kindness include Singaporeans opening up their homes to stranded Malaysians, medical personnel who work selflessly and tirelessly to save a life, and kind neighbours who look out for others, and more.

“Thing is, as uncertain as times may be right now, this too shall pass,” he wrote. “The virus will eventually come and go just like many outbreaks over the course of history. We will overcome it and become stronger from it.”

Just as the kind woman saw past a distressed stranger’s agitation in order to help him, we need to stand together to Overcome as One.

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