Everyone is a foreigner, somewhere

Singapore, for all its glory as a prosperous city-state has chosen to unselfishly share its spoils with the rest of the world. I’m referring to opening our doors to foreigners for employment opportunities. It is not in jest that the influx of foreign talent has been increasing as of late. We are quick to point out that they are here to replace us  as cheap labour. However, I beg to differ.

I hail from a family that has carried out its own business for generations. Currently, we are involved in franchising a popular convenience store. It is interesting to note that the bulk of our employees are Indian Nationals. I too was under the impression that they are no more than under-cutting snitches.That was until I started working with them.

Being Singaporeans, we have grown accustomed to having the best offered to us at every turn, especially in the areas of Education, Luxuries and Quality of Life. I myself am guilty of taking these gifts for granted.
All of our employees that diligently and unquestioningly toil for our benefit at the expense of their families in India are Graduates. Each and every one holds a Bachelor’s or Master’s from their native countries. Hell, there was even an engineer working for us part-time. Too often we look down on menial blue-collar jobs, but on the other hand, we have overqualified staff willing to get down and dirty. A paradox of a life we live, isn’t it? One man’s meat is indeed another man’s poison.

As a Singaporean, I have been blessed enough to be in close proximity to all of my heart’s desires (think comfortable socio-economic status). Those that work for us do not earn in the same bracket as we do, yet they make do with basic necessities without lusting for the finer things in life. They are tethered emotionally & financially to a family reliant on them. Although they are far away from the ones they love, they are focussed on what they need, never straying from the beacon of virtue that they have erected in their hearts and minds. It is truly admirable to see such devotion that is devoid in the lives of many who are far more fortunate.

Although these examples may seem myopic and not subject to external validity, it is a life-changing experience to be working around such individuals. Never have I been so effortlessly made to look irresponsible. I have everything these men & women do not, yet I am unable to be the best that I possibly can. The loyalty they display to their employers is unrivalled. They pay forward all the kindness they have received in terms of their time, running ridiculously long shifts and adopting responsibilities that they were never meant to be burdened with. Taking a step back, it is all too surreal to believe that I haven’t done enough with the gifts that I have. Hopefully in time, the dedication and industriousness of my staff will rub off on me.


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