SINGAPORE – Greeting passengers with a smile and small talk every morning started out as a company guideline for SMRT driver D. Suppiramaniam. But it soon became a habit.
Despite being on the job for 14 years, the 49-year-old permanent resident has not tired of the practice.
“I don’t like to drive with a sour face,” he said. “It’s bad for my health. I’d rather smile and talk to my passengers. If I see them not talking, or looking sad, I will ask them why.”
The bus driver’s friendly face has become a familiar sight for commuters, from students to senior citizens, on the 913 feeder service between Woodlands and Marsiling.
Some regulars even miss him when he is rostered to mentor new drivers elsewhere. “They ask the other drivers, ‘Where is Maniam? When is he coming back?’ ” he said.
Mr Suppiramaniam also makes it a point to stop to wait for old and frail passengers.
“I know where they get on, so I will adjust the bus so they don’t have to walk so much. Some of my passengers will also help to look out for them.”
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Last October, he was awarded a Transport Gold award by the Singapore Kindness Movement. He also has five service excellence awards and a slew of commendation letters. He said: “This is what you get when you show courtesy to others.”
First published in The Straits Times – February 26, 2014