Working as a cleaner at a cafe is not an easy job. Especially when you are verbally abused by customers just for doing your work.
That’s what one employee of the Ya Kun Kaya Toast outlet at Paragon experienced on Saturday from a family who was dining at the eatery.
The incident was documented in a Facebook post by user Darren Tan, who wrote that the cleaner was shouted at by a man and told to be appreciative because it is “our people that is enabling her to even work in Singapore”.
She was also told – with expletives – to return to China. To compound matters, the man’s family joined in to insult the cleaner.
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The whole issue, according to Tan, arose because the man’s son, who was consuming pork skewers from a different restaurant, was told by the cleaner that Ya Kun is a “no pork, no lard” eatery and that he should not be consuming pork in its premises.
While Ya Kun isn’t halal certified, the cafe also does not allow food bought from other eateries to be consumed in their premises, in any case.
But instead of admitting to their fault, the family decided to hurl abuse at the cleaner. The man, according to Tan, also started shouting that the cleaner “showed them her black face”, apparently after they requested for her to clean their table.
It is never nice to be the subject of verbal abuse and humiliation at your workplace, so you might expect the cleaner to react by shouting back. Instead, she kept her cool and “very calmly” told the man to complain to her manager before walking away, according to Tan.
Her restraint deserves praise, for things could have turned out very differently had she responded otherwise: we could be seeing a video of a shouting match – or worse, a physical altercation – making its rounds on social media instead.
Tan said in his post that he felt “seriously ashamed to be sharing the same nationality” as the family. He also added that “no one should ever be this self-entitled to shame another person’s job or nationality”.
And he is right. It isn’t right to be using one’s job or origin as a stick to beat them with, as they are just trying to make a living.
So what if they are foreigners? Would it be right to assume that if someone came from another country to work here – even as a cleaner – we would be better than they are?
One person who left a comment on Tan’s post wrote: “Singaporeans must learn to be more gracious…because everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”
It is high time we leave our elitist attitudes behind and treat everyone equally with respect, in a way we would want others to treat us. Especially since we are in no way superior just because we come from a well-to-do nation.