“Am I local?”

She asked, with a skeptic look on her face.

“Yes, I am. Why do you ask?” 

As she sat up after her scan and clung on to my arms, she smiled and thanked me politely.

Because Singaporeans usually aren’t that nice.”

I smiled, with a nod. It wasn’t in agreement though, much more of being overwhelmed, speechless. Her words lingered. And at times, I wonder. What have we Singaporeans done to ourselves, to be labelled, “aren’t that nice“. Our foreign colleagues seem to be providing better care I assume, else my patient would not have much of a comparison for her statement. What was it that we could have learnt from them, but didn’t.

Perhaps we failed to smile, or greet our patients when they enter our department with a mind full of worries. Perhaps, we failed to understand that going into a machine, isn’t exactly similar to the comfort of our bed sheets at home. Or maybe, just maybe. We failed to comprehend that standard lines and instructions, can be programmed into robots instead of us. So why is there a need for us, health-care providers? Oh and don’t get me started on those waiting times. When the patient lists are long and the department is busy, we hurry around like cluster of ants. We fail to consider that the patients are sitting on the couch with an array of feelings, if only anyone noticed their facial expressions. I do not mean that everyone should force a smile, but at least, remember why you signed up for this, for them. And everyone is entitled to be treated with respect, even if there is no “VIP” scribbled on their forms. There really shouldn’t, and I would emphasise on the word, “shouldn’t” be a difference in treatment.

And yes, before I digress. I am local, and I hope one day, everyone will remember Singaporeans, as nice people.

P.S. We really do need to remove this “VIP” categorisation. Everyone should be showered with the same respect and care as one would provide for a very important person.

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