SMRT, Citi and Singapore – way to go

Two unbelievable things happened today and both are of great importance and highlight the need for data integrity and personal professionalism.

As has been my practice when I board the East West MRT train, I took out my Kindle from my trouser pocket and began to read. Today it was Biswanath Gosh’s ‘Tamarind City’. The book was so interesting that I didn’t notice that my wallet had fallen down from my pocket. The wallet contained a Citibank Credit Card, Ez-Link Transport Card and, most importantly, the National ID card.

I changed trains at Tanah Mera MRT and got down at Expo. When I had to exit, I found the wallet missing. Sensing a chill down my spine, I approached the counter and explained my situation. The clerk took down my details and promised to get back, if anything was found.

All plans of going to Bintan, Indonesia this week-end collapsed in front of my eyes. I visualized the sad face of the wife and children when they would hear the news, for without the National ID, I would not be able to enter Singapore.

I tried calling the police to lodge a complaint regarding my National ID card when I got another call. The speaker said,’ Sir, I am calling from Citibank Tampines Branch. SMRT has found your wallet with your credit card and ID. Could you come over to the Tampines Branch MRT Control Room?’

I retraced my journey to Tanah Mera station, boarded the East West Line to Pasir Ris and got down at Tampines.

I approached the SMRT control room when the friendly staff, soon after seeing me, checked my credentials and handed over the wallet with all its contents intact.

What had happened was this: A passenger had handed over the wallet to SMRT. The staff Ms.Tamilarasi had tried to get my number from the wallet but couldn’t find my calling card. She found the Citibank Credit card, approached the bank’s branch in the MRT station and asked the bank staff to call me and inform about my wallet. The bank staff had located my mobile number from the integrated customer system based on my card number, called me and then I had my wallet..

Four things that worked together and hence stand out in this episode :

1. The unknown passenger who handed over to the wallet to the SMRT staff. But for his integrity, I couldn’t have got me items.

2. The professionalism of the SMRT staff Ms.Tamilarasi. She had gone outside of her call of duty and tried to reach me through the bank while, as per procedure, she would have just waited for the normal complaint redress mechanism to click in. But she didn’t wait.The extreme to which she went to reach out to an unknown customer speaks volumes about the professionalism of the lady and the training provided by SMRT. Kudos to both.

3. The integrity of data in Citibank. When Ms.Tamilarasi approached the bank with her official insignia on, the bank staff was able to locate my mobile number and call me to inform. This has been made possible just because of the integrated nature of the bank’s data. Most importantly, the data was upto date.

4. Singapore – The integrated nature of the country and the sense of integrity that she has built into her people, and the efficient systems that work. This doesn’t stop with SMRT. It is all across the nation – bus service, immigration, power supply, water, internal security et al. The nation is actually a well managed company whose business is welfare and wealth creation for its citizens. Kudos.

Another thing that stands out :

Even if a book is damn interesting, one needs to be mindful of the surroundings.

What next :

I am planning to gift a copy of my book ‘Pazhaiya Kanakku’ to Ms.Tamilarasi and request her to receive the first copy of my next English book ‘The Diary of a foreigner’ in which this story would be made available.

P.S.: Citi is my employer. This is not a promotional, but a genuine incident that happened to me..

How I upheld morality in a train

I have heard people searching on google. But the boy was searching on her face, with his lips.

Once he finished his search, she began, with intermittent small talk and strange sounds in the packed train. Once the facial searches stopped, and the on-lookers were visibly satisfied, the search spread. His hands were at their exploratory best.

Another bout of facial search was followed by armed search after one minute lull.

All this happened in the packed train. My blood began to boil. I was about to catch the boy and slap him. Twice I tried to pull the girl out of his embrace only to restrain myself at the last moment. Why should I act when the whole crowd was watching this ‘Searching on the face’ ? I thought.

But a young school boy about 12 years old watched this live steamy event. I couldn’t stand that.  Never do nothing, my mind said for the tenth time.

I decided to act.  I felt my BP shoot up in rage. I felt a mild headache as a result of that.

Time to act, I said to myself, determined to act.

I closed my book, kept the book inside the bag all the while looking at the boy and girl in tight embrace.

I felt an insurmountable rage filling inside. With great effort I was restraining myself not to pull the boy out of the embrace.

The train came to a stop. Time to act, I said to myself.

Then that happened. That which I didn’t want , happened. I couldn’t control myself. There was a limit to everything. Time to take things into ones’s hands, I thought. I couldn’t stand such behavior.

So I said, ‘Excuse me’, and got down from the train, triumphantly.

When SMRT sang a lullaby

The man seems to be in a hurry. Rushing into the train car, he misses the closing doors by a whisker and looks for a vacant seat in a corner. Scrambling for the seat, he hits a lady with his backpack but nevertheless reaches his target. With a sigh of relief expressed visibly, he closes his eyes with the Ipod strings firmly attached to his ears.

The seat is a reserved one for needy folks. While the greedy guy nods is head in tune with his Ipod tunes, the needy folks who embark in a later station continue to stand. The elderly lady eyes the guy eagerly. But he seems lost in his world, eyes shut.

Losing patience, I gently nudge the guy. He doesn’t wake up leave alone stand up. I touch his arms that feels warm with sweat. No response for my trespass. When the train suddenly jerks and stops, the lady’s bags go for a toss. She herself momentarily stumbles, finding support to lean while the mean man sleeps still. Not even the jerk arouses this jerk.

Completely incensed, I drop my laptop on his lap that makes him look up from his ‘nap’ for my laptop was on top of his lap. Losing ones’ balance, you see.

I blame the train for the drop and the lady gets her seat without a prod.

‘Se se’, she says while her eyes seem moist. (‘se se’ – Thanks’ in Mandrin).

Sure SMRT sings lullabies. It gives ideas too.

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