He gets support from unlikely friend

He gets support from unlikely friend
Tan Wei Jian (right) and Madam Jess Tan (left).

SINGAPORE - He spends his holidays sorting books at the Yuying Secondary School bookshop.

The job not only supplements 16-year-old student Tan Wei Jian's family income, but also got him an unlikely friend - Madam Jess Tan, a 57-year-old sales assistant who supervises him.

"She gives me advice and encouragement whenever I feel demoralised," said the Normal (Academic) student.

"And because I'm naturally quiet, she talks to me whenever she can to liven up the atmosphere."

Said Madam Tan: "I tell Wei Jian to have more confidence in himself."

"He always thinks that Express stream students are more intelligent and that he cannot compare to them.

"He was also afraid to take his N-level results. But I told him not to worry because he had already done his best.

"He was definitely well-prepared for the exam because I always saw him studying his notes."

Wei Jian first noticed Madam Tan when he was in Secondary 1 in 2010.

He would see her working alone when he walked pass the bookshop during recess.

"One day, I asked her if she wanted anything from the canteen," he said.

Although Madam Tan said "no", this initial exchange got the two into the habit of exchanging small talk whenever they met.

When Wei Jian was in Sec 2, Madam Tan invited him to work at the bookshop during the holidays.

"I agreed because I didn't want my mother to have to work so hard," said the teenager, who lives with his single mother and grandmother in an HDB flat in Hougang.

"As a salesperson, she rarely gets to sit at work. And when she comes home, she complains of leg pains. It breaks my heart," he said.

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