After 40 years, this Singapore hotel doorman still loves his job

After 40 years, this Singapore hotel doorman still loves his job
Royal Plaza on Scotts’ longest-serving doorman, Mr Syed Kadir Bin Syed Hameed
PHOTO: Royal Plaza on Scotts

These days, it might be considered to be a mean feat if a person remains with the same employer for over four years.

In fact, a survey by recruitment agency Elliott Scott conducted last year found that employees in Singapore are prone to job-hopping, with 78 per cent of respondents admitting that they stayed with their employer for less than four years - higher than the 72 per cent globally.

But for Mr Syed Kadir Bin Syed Hameed, he still loves his job as much as he did on his first day of work - which was 40 years ago.

That's an incredible 10 times more than the average Singapore employee.

The doorman for Royal Plaza on Scotts hotel has been greeting guests upon arrival and bidding them adieu at the end of their stay since he joined the hotel on May 5, 1977.

Meet Mr Syed, the longest-serving hotel doorman at Royal Plaza on Scotts

A typical work day for Mr Syed begins in the early hours of the morning at 4.30am.

"I will do my morning prayers and have my breakfast before I head to the hotel," said Mr Syed in an e-mail interview with AsiaOne.

"A busy day will kick off. My shift ends at 3pm and I will head home for some home-cooked food by my wife."

Over the years, the 63-year-old has gone through 12 uniform design changes as the hotel's doorman and has become a familiar face to many loyal guests.

Mr Syed with Malaysian celebrity Sheila Majid in 2003Photo: Royal Plaza on Scotts

In fact, he is known on a first-name basis for some and is endearingly known as "Uncle Syed" by younger guests who have known him since they were kids.

"There are families of guests whom I will not forget. These are guests whom I have known since I started working here and have seen their children grown up over the years. Some have invited me to be a part of their life events such as their sons' and daughters' weddings," he said.

Some patrons go out of their way to show their appreciation for Mr Syed. He said some of these guests "even know the size of (his) sarong", a traditional piece of fabric that is worn wrapped around the waist.

Others have brought him their hometown's famous 'keropok' or crackers whenever they returned to the hotel.

But Mr Syed has also done his fair share of going beyond the call of duty during his four decades on the job.

He recalled helping a blind man whom he spotted near the entrance of the hotel.

Recognising that the man was in need of help, Mr Syed checked where he was going and helped him cross the overhead bridge located near the hotel's entrance.

He even walked the man to the bus stop at Far East Plaza, which is directly opposite the hotel.

"I waited for the bus with him and ensured that he got onto the bus safely," said Mr Syed.

He admitted that there are challenges that come with the job, and the main one would be managing guests' expectations - especially if they're in a rush.

However, he still enjoys what he does.

The father of five said: "When I first started this job, my eldest son was only nine months old. My children (used to ask) my wife to bring them to Orchard Road to see me at work when they were in primary school.

"They understand that my job is not easy and they appreciate what I have been doing at my workplace to provide for the family."

Last Saturday (Aug 5), Mr Syed became a repeat recipient of the hotel's At Your S.E.R.V.I.C.E recognition programme, which recognises individuals who have delivered exceptional service standards.

The hotel said he has received "thousands of compliments from guests to date", for his welcoming demeanour and engaging chats.

To celebrate Mr Syed's achievement, 30 of his family members were invited down to the hotel's premise for a celebratory photo shoot as a way to mark his career milestone.

General Manager of Royal Plaza on Scotts, Patrick Fiat, with Mr Syed and family.Photo: Royal Plaza on Scotts

A doorman does not simply open the doors of taxis and cars, according to Mr Syed.

He added that on top of such duties, he also needs to ensure that the hotel entrance area is clean, lights are in working condition, check on guests' luggage and even remind guests to check for their passports before they leave for the airport.

It might sound like a never-ending list of things to take note of - but Mr Syed is unfazed.

"Being in the position to make a good first and last impression on the hotel's guests during their stays is rewarding. I find satisfaction in doing the small things that matter," he said.

"The emotional connections that I establish with people in my position as a doorman are what I hold close to my heart."

Bravo and congratulations, Mr Syed!

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