When it comes to Singaporeans on the MRT, humor is non-existent. There is no smiling, laughing, joking or talking. Everyone stands side by side without seeing each other, eyes too focused on their ipads and smartphones to take in their surroundings or even nod to the person they are rubbing shoulders with. Eyes ahead on the station platforms, walking forward and avoiding all eye contact. Turns out if you don’t look at anyone you don’t bump into them either, which is a cool little trick. It’s always a rush to be first; first off the train, first on the train, first to reach the escalator or stairs. Cheryl and I find our amusement by, well, mocking the system. We talk in the trains, we try to get people to look at us and return our smiles, we laugh when we stand nose to the glass while waiting for the next train. I think the biggest MRT faux pas happened within my first two days of being in Singapore.
It wasn’t even a faux pas, really, we just found that our humor doesn’t quite match up with everyone else. Cheryl and I had spent the day at Marina Bay Sands and surrounding areas, and we were making our way back home after a stop by Long Bar in Raffles Hotel to try the famous (and overpriced) Singapore Sling when we decided to take the MRT for the final leg of the journey. As we began our descent down the escalator we saw that our train was already at the station. We took off running down the escalator and across the platform towards the already packed train. Cheryl managed to slide in just as the red lights began blinking, and I picked up my pace to reach her. I heard the automated “Doors are closing” as my window of opportunity began to disappear. I could have stopped and waited for the next one, and probably should have since there didn’t appear to be any room for me, but I was already in motion and moving too fast. It was now or never. I leapt through the doors like a modern day Indiana Jones, spreading out my arms and pancaking myself into Cheryl’s back. pulling my leg through the doors just seconds before they hissed shut behind me. I don’t even know how I made it on, and apparently neither did Cheryl by the look of bewilderment on her face that I had managed to somehow fit myself into that compartment before the doors shut. The whole situation was funny enough to make even the Royal Guards chortle, we ourselves were lost in a fit of laughter, but no one else even cracked a smile. “Oh come on,” Cheryl said quietly as she looked around, “that was funny!” I was trying so hard to suppress my laughter that I was snorting, and we had to shuffle ourselves around to face the door so our backs were to everyone else in an attempt to stifle the giggles. It didn’t work.
Transportation is a very serious matter. No laughing allowed. Cannot lah.