Monday 3 July 2017

I wore my musty old navy uniform to save $1.72 on NS50 Free Travel Day

That's it?

After 50 years of young Singaporean men giving up the best years of our lives in service of our nation, all we get is one measly day of free bus and train rides?

And NS50 Free Travel Day wasn’t even on a Saturday or Sunday when you can go out and enjoy yourself. It was last Friday when most people had to work.

Sure, you could take the train for free to see Britney Spears that night, but still.

Wouldn't it make more sense to have NS50 Free Travel Day on Saturday especially since SAF Day was on Saturday?

Or was the Government afraid to be seen as handing out free rides to Pink Dot on the same day?

But only current and former servicemen were eligible for the free rides and to prove you were eligible, you had to wear your service uniform.

And as far as I know, SAF uniforms don't come in pink.

Wearing the uniform isn't a problem for current servicemen, but for “lao peng” (“old soldiers”) like myself, even if we do have our old uniform, would it still fit?

Forget it. I’m not so cheapskate.

I wasn’t going to dig out my musty old uniform just to save $1.72 on the MRT ride to work.

But then I realised that I have yet to receive my NS50 Recognition Package consisting of $100 worth of vouchers and this Free Travel Day could be all I’m getting.

Who was I kidding?

I am a cheapskate.

I decided to dig out my musty old uniform just to save $1.72 on the MRT ride to work.

$1.72 is better than nothing.

It has been 11 years since I was “retired” from the navy where I was a medic.

I’m proud to say that as a medic, I may not have saved anyone's life, but I didn’t get anyone killed either.

Because I started my national service in the army before joining the navy, I have three different sets of uniforms I could wear for NS50 Free Travel Day.

Unfortunately, I can no longer fit into the pants of my army No. 4 and navy No. 3 due to all the rainbow cake I ate.

Fortunately, I could still fit into my old navy No. 4 because it’s a coverall, which is kinder to my 51-year-old waistline.

Unfortunately, the coverall makes me look less like a serviceman and more like a repairman.

Fortunately for current navy servicemen, the navy No. 4 uniform has since been updated to match the army No. 4 so they look like actual soldiers.

Unfortunately for me, I have only the old navy No. 4 onesie so I look like an actual mechanic.

To make sure the MRT station staff wouldn’t mistake me for someone you call to fix the air-conditioning, I wore a cap that says Republic of Singapore Navy right upfront.

The cap also helped to cover up another problem — my long hair.

Even though my Kylo Ren mane looks wildly out of place in uniform, I wasn't going to cut it just for one day of free travel. Two days, maybe.

Instead, I tied my hair in a ponytail and put on the cap, and hey, presto, I looked like I had an acceptable military haircut.

At least from the front.

I was basically cosplaying as an NSman.

All this just to save $1.72.

I couldn't wait for NS50 Free Travel Day.

Friday eventually came... and there was an MRT breakdown.

On NS50 Free Travel Day!

The morning rush-hour delay affected trains from Woodlands to Ang Mo Kio.

SMRT’s theme song should be Oops I Did It Again after it hit us, baby, one more time with another breakdown.

It was the fourth service disruption in as many days.

How can? This is the thanks we get for sacrificing the best years of lives for our country?

Hey, SMRT, never mind the free travel. Just get us to work on time!

I give you the $1.72.

When I arrived at my workplace, a colleague couldn't believe I actually wore my faded old SAF uniform just to get a free ride.

“Have you no dignity?” he asked.

No, I gave it up for $1.72.

At least I didn't cut my hair.

I’m still waiting for my NS50 Recognition Package vouchers.

- Published in The New Paper, 3 July 2017