Kind act by McDonald's staff amid MRT chaos

Mr Karl Alvendia Rodriguez (right) with fellow McDonald's staff (from left) Mr Hoo Hang Chai, Ms Ng Chai Eng and Ms Komala Devi Maniam. A photo of Ms Komala and her colleagues giving out drinks was posted on Twitter, where it received much praise fro
Mr Karl Alvendia Rodriguez (right) with fellow McDonald's staff (from left) Mr Hoo Hang Chai, Ms Ng Chai Eng and Ms Komala Devi Maniam. A photo of Ms Komala and her colleagues giving out drinks was posted on Twitter, where it received much praise from the public.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Crew of Changi City Point outlet helped ease discomfort of commuters by giving out water

Commuters stuck in long taxi queues, or jostling with thousands of other passengers to get on a bus in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, had very little to smile about last Tuesday.

A massive breakdown shut down the North-South and East-West lines for more than two hours and left more than 250,000 commuters struggling to find a way to complete their journeys.

A little kindness, however, went a long way to make the situation more bearable and brought people together in an unexpected way.

At a taxi stand outside Expo MRT station, staff from a nearby McDonald's outlet in Changi City Point shopping centre served up "happiness" in cups of cold water, Coke and Sprite.

TINY GESTURE, BIG RESPONSE

I thought to myself, 'Everyone else must also be unprepared like me'... It just came naturally, but a small gesture like this can have a big impact on other people.

MR KARL ALVENDIA RODRIGUEZ, general manager of the McDonald's outlet at Changi City Point mall, who told his staff to give out water to stranded commuters waiting for taxis. He takes the train and was also affected by the breakdown.

It was Mr Karl Alvendia Rodriguez, general manager of the outlet, who came up with the idea.

Mr Rodriguez, who himself takes the train and was affected by the breakdown, took 20 minutes to walk to a bus stop. This left him tired and extremely thirsty.

"I thought to myself, 'Everyone else must also be unprepared like me'," said the 33-year-old.

He called his colleagues at the outlet and told them to provide water to those at the taxi stand.

"When I gave them the drinks, their faces were so happy. They said they were very thirsty and tired of waiting," said Ms Komala Devi Maniam, 23, an assistant manager from the outlet who gave out the drinks with two other colleagues to about 25 people in line.

A photo of Ms Komala and her colleagues handing out the drinks made its way to social media site Twitter, where it received much attention and praise.

Mr Rodriguez was surprised at the attention. "It just came naturally, but a small gesture like this can have a big impact on other people," he said.

The incident was just one of many kind acts which commuters witnessed that day.

Several netizens spoke of their gratitude and appreciation for strangers who looked out for them.

One of them was programme executive Tong Sian Choo. The 28- year-old was stranded in Somerset at a bus stop that was swollen with people desperate to get onto buses that did not have any more space.

After five buses passed, and a sixth one finally opened its doors, Ms Tong, who did not think she could fit into the crammed bus, was yanked up by a fellow commuter who saw her hesitate.

Ms Tong, like many others that night, had earlier struck up an easy conversation with the stranger who helped her that night.

The woman, Madam Susi Rani, 49, a housewife, was like Ms Tong making her way to Yishun.

Madam Susi also lent Ms Tong her phone to call her family, as the latter's phone battery had died.

Madam Susi said what she did was not a big deal. "It's nothing. This is how people always help each other when things like these happen," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2015, with the headline 'Kind act by McDonald's staff amid MRT chaos'. Print Edition | Subscribe