As a first generation immigrant, I am exempted from National Service (NS). In the past 3 years with my previous employer, Ministry of Defence was my biggest client. So, I often joked with people that I was serving NS in some ways. My work required me to travel from one base to another meeting different units, different people. Looking back, though colleagues from my current job often ignore my experience with my previous employer and get fixated with my first employer (something to do with reputation I suppose) making me wonder if my past couple of years of working experience has been obliterated from my resume, I enjoyed being able to serve my country as an external consultant. Besides, being a civilian on the military ground has lots of added advantages. Since I don’t have ranks at all (not even like those who have gone through NS) and I don’t wear uniform, the SAF Officers (and Warrant Officers) have treated me very nicely. After all, they all wish to be an exemplar of someone who embraces fully the SAF core values. What better way it is to take the opportunity to raise their image through public commoners like myself?
When I received a phone call from one of the SAF Officers whom I have worked with during lunch, I immediately got into that “Sir, Yes Sir!” mode. Though he is a great friend of mine and has agreed to be a reference for my current employer, formality cannot be bypassed.
After all the introductory conversations such as “Long time no see, Sir. How are you, Sir?”, he popped the following question in all sternness.
“Are you a Singaporean?”
Many thoughts shot pass my mind. What does my country want from me? Some secret high profile high risk tasks that require my expertise? An undercover team to be deployed into East Timor asap? Will I be called into the Pentagon … erm I mean Gombak HQ for briefing just like in the Tom Clancy’s books when Jack Ryan being called in as special consultant to the military?
I took a deep breath with my chest held high and suddenly a familiar sense of patriotism overtook my anxiety and curiosity.
“Yes Sir. I have been a Singapore Citizen since 1998, Sir.”
And he continued, “How would you like a pair of ticket to the preview of National Day Parade?”
You kidding me?! For someone who tears seeing our National Flag flies up in the sky (hang by 3 helicopters during their rehearsal near to the condo I stay), going to watch NDP will kill me … with all that emotions. And the great thing is, it is a preview. Because on the National Day itself, our band has a tradition to jam at my home studio, just like what we did last year. That would have been quite a sacrifice because I have been waiting for months for this jamming session to happen. Everyone are just so busy with their lives.
I really wanted to scream “SIR YES SIR! I WANT THEM BAD SIR!”. Well, in the end I think I did scream due to overwhelming excitement but I cannot make a decision without Cynthia’s consent (part and puzzle of how to sustain a healthy relationship making our decision and not my decision – however symbolic at times). She may not be able to make it and what am I to do with an empty seat? I would rather pass them onto the next couple.
So I replied, “Can I get back to you? I need to give Cynthia a call first.” He asked if I could get back to him soon. I read his mind of course so I replied with a sense of urgency, “I will get back to you within 30 minutes, Sir!”.
He was laughing and said, “You really sound like you are in the military!”
Well, I may have left the military project but a part of me is still inside. When I called him up within 5 minutes, he said he would deliver the tickets to my doorsteps in the evening.
And he did.
I am so honored. Now, stay tune for my NDP Preview write-up. According to him, this coming Preview will be more or less like the actual one and the firework will be no less than 75% of the actual day parade. Man, I am so excited.
Before he drove away from my doorsteps, I frantically asked, “Sir, where is the parade going to be? Is it near Esplanade?”
He smiled, waved at me and said, “Head to Esplanade. You will see the whole army there. You won’t miss it.”
I laughed thinking of “the whole army” and I saluted him as he drove away.
Related Blog Entry: Vidoes And Pictures From The National Day Parade Preview, Enjoy!