I brought the kids to East Coast Park to try out the Family Bike It’s $30 per hour, and we rented it from the shop at carpark E2. For the novelty, fun-factor for 6 people (including kids), and for the awesome steering wheels at the front, it was $30 well spent!
It was really fun for the kids, and really tiring for the adults who had to pedal! I was surprised that Ethan and his cousin, Gabriel, could last for an entire hour without asking to get out of their seats.
Along the way, we cycled past many other cyclists – children, families, adults, older people. And we thought, maybe it would be nice to wave and say hello as we passed by!
In our brief and unscientific, highly biased social experiment, here are my observations on the Friendliest Strangers at East Coast Park
1. The Malay Family
They were always ready to give a wave and a surprised smile back to our little guys.
2. The Ang Mo (Singapore slang for a Caucasian)
Family, couples or children gave warm smiles and greetings. It felt like it was just an every day thing to them!
3. The Local Pre-teen Child
They gave shy smiles, but at least there was some response!
What about the others?
Those friendly park users were actually quite few and far between. Most people that we passed gave blank stares, or stared kept looking ahead, their eyes shielded behind reflective sunglasses.
For decades we’ve had campaigns aimed at helping our stressed little nation find a little more joy and happiness. There was the 1996 “Smile Singapore” Campaign that gained international news coverage. The Four Million Smiles campaign in 2006, and more recently, the various initiatives by the Singapore Kindness Movement. It seems we still have some way to go if a gleeful child’s greeting is met with cold stares.
But there is hope. Just today, a few strangers made some friendly conversation with Ethan while he was out with me running some errands at the nearby supermarket and 7-eleven. They were genuine. They were kind. They spoke to him like they valued the opinion of a 2 year old.
So, if you were one of those strangers that smiled at my child that day at the park, if you are the man that helped him pick up his shoe instead of glaring at my barefooted toddler at the supermarket, if you are the uncle that took a moment to show him the interesting plant outside your store… thank you. You made the world a little brighter.
Have you smiled at someone today?
Don’t let the Monday blues dampen your smile! 🙂