Just a $50 note, but SMRT staff's effort priceless

Just a $50 note, but SMRT staff's effort priceless
SMRT helps Nishal John Vethanayagam recover a $50 note he lost in an escalator on CNY eve. Photo of him and the note.

SINGAPORE - When Mr Nishal John Vethanayagam saw a $50 note slip from his hand and fall into the gap between the steps and side wall of the escalator at Novena MRT station, he did not expect to see it again.

He thought it would be troublesome for the staff of operator SMRT to stop the escalator to fish out the note, especially as it was the eve of Chinese New Year last Wednesday.

But within two hours of asking the staff for help, the Indian national got his money back.

On his Facebook page, he posted an account of what happened and a photo of the greasy $50 note, linking it to SMRT's Facebook page.

His post has been liked more than 5,000 times and shared 900 times as of 7.30pm yesterday, since it was created last Friday morning.

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 step (in case it was stuck inside any of them), and when they couldn't find it, go down to the bottom and fetch the $50."

The 28-year-old, who works in marketing, told The Sunday Times: "I am amazed at the speed at which it happened. Most would wait for Chinese New Year to be over or for the next maintenance schedule."

He was on his way home last Wednesday after withdrawing $100 from the ATM when one of the $50 notes fell into the escalator's crack.

Mr Vethanayagam reported the matter to the station staff at about 1.30pm, but had "mentally kissed goodbye to my $50".

To his "utter shock", less than two hours later, the station staff called to say they had retrieved his money. He was overjoyed despite being told that the note was "a little oily and grimy, and may be unusable".

He wrote: "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."

Mr Vethanayagam, who has been living here for two years, intends to frame the note as a memento. "For someone new to the country with no family, being helped like that makes me feel connected to Singapore.

"The emotional value is higher than the value of the note."

This article was first published on February 22, 2015.
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