SMRT staff who retrieved $50 note lost in escalator lauded after man's Facebook praise goes viral

SINGAPORE - The efforts of SMRT staff in retrieving a $50 note dropped into an escalator have been applauded in a Facebook post that has gone viral.

Mr Nishal John Vethanayagam, who works in marketing, was on his way home from work on Wednesday, the eve of Chinese New Year, when he dropped the note while riding an escalator at Novena MRT station. It slipped into the gap between the escalator's steps and the metal sides.

Less than two hours after alerting staff members at the station and returning home, he received a phone call asking him to collect the bill.

His post to SMRT's Facebook page detailing his experience has been liked more than 5,000 times and shared almost 850 times since it was made on Friday morning.

Mr Vethanayagam, 28, wrote that he was amazed at how quickly the station's staff recovered the note, despite it being Chinese New Year's eve.

He wrote: "Now just so we're all clear on how big a deal this is: to retrieve the $50, they had to stop the escalator, open up each and every stair (in case it was stuck inside any of them), and when they couldn't find it, go down to the bottom inside and fetch the $50.

"Add to this the fact that it was New Year's eve, and it a marvel that they managed to get it done, and so fast!"

He also paid tribute to Singapore: "I cannot think of any other country in the world where something like this can happen - I am blown away by the sheer efficiency and the simple honesty of these people."

The Indian national, who has been in Singapore since 2013, told The Straits Times that the supervisor, a Mr Fauzy, even refused his gift of a box of chocolates.

"He said he can't take it," Mr Vethanayagam recounted.

He added that Mr Fauzy relented after being asked to pass it on to the maintenance crew that retrieved the note.

On Saturday afternoon, the Novena MRT station staff confirmed with The Straits Times that their crew had indeed helped Mr Vethanayagam.

dshea@sph.com.sg