HE was not staring at the bickering couple, he said, but merely looking in their direction while stretching his legs.
But it was enough to get Mr Ho Siew Ha a swollen eye, and bruises on his forehead and ear.
The man he was facing at the time had allegedly attacked him without any provocation.
'He asked me in Hokkien what I was looking at and he used a lot of vulgarities,' said the 58-year-old SMRT bus driver.
Not wanting to cause any trouble, Mr Ho said he turned around to walk away.
But moments later, he felt someone hitting his left shoulder.
HIT ON HEAD
He turned to look, and the nextthing he knew, the heavily-tattooed young man was raining blows on his head.
Following the attack at the Ang Mo Kio bus interchange on Sunday night, Mr Ho continued with the next leg of his shift.
It was only after his shift that he was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he received outpatient treatment.
Since then, he has not slept well because of headaches, he said.
His vision is also blurred.
'It's unfortunate, but you really have to mind your own business,' said Mr Ho, who hasbeen a bus driver for two years.
Mr Ho, who was driving bus service 169, had driven from Woodlands and was taking his five-minute break at the interchange at about 9pm.
While stretching his legs outside the interchange office, he saw a young couple quarrelling near their car, parked about 30m away.
Suddenly, the man shouted at Mr Ho.
To avoid any trouble, he turned away, but the man attacked him anyway.
'I tried to block him but he was stronger than me. I knew I could not retaliate because I was wearing my uniform.
'After he hit me, I couldn't really see clearly,' he said in Mandarin.
Mr Ho said he could not remember how many punches exactly he received, but said there were at least three.
The attack also happened very quickly, and even though a few people including other bus drivers saw the incident, Mr Ho claimed that no one helped him.
After the attack, he went into the office for a piece of paper to jot down the man's car licence plate number.
'When he saw me doing that, he shouted at me from outside and warned me not to take down his number,' said Mr Ho.
The bus driver said he did not manage to record the number in the end as he had to rush back to his bus to complete the next leg of his shift.
Mr Ho said he felt well enough to finish the 50-minute journey from Ang Mo Kio bus interchange to Woodlands bus interchange.
'I didn't think it was so serious. We run on a tight schedule and all I could think of was to hurry for the next service.
'I was also the only SMRT driver there then,' he added.
He said he felt fine during the journey, but began to see white spots towards the end.
'I was confident that I could drive. Anyway, I know the route very well,' he said.
When he returned to the Woodlands interchange, he rushed to the toilet to clean up.
Said Mr Ho: 'I blew my nose and suddenly there was a lot of blood. My left eyelid also began to droop alot.'
His supervisor told him to stop working for the night and called the police and ambulance.
After giving his statement to the police, Mr Ho was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
He told his wife, Madam Wong Siew Hoi, 55, about the incident only at about 1.30am from the hospital.
At his flat yesterday, Mr Ho's left eye was still badly swollen and there were visible bruises on his forehead and left ear.
Said his wife, Madam Wong: 'I didn't suspect anything amiss as he usually comes home after work as late as 2am.'
She said she was worried about his condition after he called her, and waited up for him until he returned home at about 4am.
An SMRT spokesman confirmed the incident and said that Mr Ho is on four days' medical leave until Thursday.
Looking back, Mr Ho said it was such bad luck.
'I did not intend to get involved in their personal problems. But in the end, the man vented his frustration on me,' he said.
He said the couple were in their 20s, and drove a white car.
There had also been a young boy with them, he said.
Mr Ho described the man as lean and said he had many tattoos, especially on his legs.
'I hope your report can help me find them,' he said.
'I feel less safe now, especially since I need to keep an eye out for people like that.'
This article was first published in The New Paper on May 20, 2008.