The station was thick with people, and I searched for a way to get to the train platform. I spotted a lift and squeezed into a queue of about a dozen people, who were dutifully waiting even though there were two escalators less than 100m away. There was an air of anticipation as the lift cranked its way up to the concourse. As the lift arrived, everyone surged forward. Once the last possible person had squeezed in, the lift doors slid shut with a ‘ding’. I was left on the concourse, perplexed.
This ostensible lack of consideration hadn’t been my experience of Singapore thus far. Previously, construction workers had stopped their jackhammers as I walked past so as not to wake my sleeping baby. I’d had umbrellas offered to me when getting off the bus in the teeming rain. So why did getting into a lift seem like survival of the fittest?
I soon learned that this is what it is to be ‘kiasu’.