He cheers up morning crowd

He clears trays, fetches high chairs for toddlers and guards over spills until they are cleaned.

He does everything a cleaner at McDonald’s is supposed to do.

Except that he isn’t a cleaner.

He does it all willingly, and for free, just to set an example for others that they should clear their trays.

Mr Dauglas Sim, 53, who according to his website is a consultant and a trainer in ministry work, once worked in McDonald’s for a few years. More than 20 years later, he still feels a connection.

For the past five years, he has been turning up at between 5am and 6am at the fast-food chain’s outlet in Northpoint Shopping Centre at Yishun Avenue 2 to clear tables.
Mr Sim helping a customer open the door to the outlet.

He said: “After being in the service business, it’s become second nature for me to clean up.”

“Only in Singapore do people not clear their trays after they’re done,” he added. “I want to be an example for other Singaporeans.”

Mr Sim, who is single, lives in a three-room flat just opposite Northpoint, making it convenient for him to report for “work” at the 24-hour outlet.

When The New Paper arrived at the outlet at 7am on Tuesday, Mr Sim was already hard at work.

He had placed his belongings – books, breakfast and a hat – on one table at his usual corner of the restaurant.

Another hat, a small umbrella attached to a harness, sat atop his head as he went about clearing trays, often with a coffee cup in hand.

He had bought his usual coffee and muffin set from the restaurant.

Amuses kids

When parents with small children entered, he immediately pulled out high chairs or offered McDonald’s balloons to the kids.

He would go about “working” for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, between free refills of coffee and retreats to his seat for more bites of breakfast.

By 9am, it was time for a well-deserved break.

Mr Sim changed his T-shirt and settled into his chair with the day’s newspapers.

He said he had been doing these acts of kindness for some time, but not exclusively at the Yishun outlet.

He said: “I’ll do this at McDonald’s in Ang Mo Kio or Yishun. Wherever I am. Even at Burger King, KFC, and Delifrance.”

A McDonald’s spokesman said Mr Sim has been a regular customer “for a number of years” and noted that he takes great pleasure in helping other customers.

Said the spokesman: “(Mr Sim) often insists that he is happy to do these things, in spite of offers to help from our crew… As Mr Sim seems happy and is just trying to be helpful, we do not stop him.”

Mr Sim said he gets job offers all the time – the McDonald’s spokesman said they had invited him to apply for a job with the company – but that he prefers to manage his own business.

As his income varies depending on bookings, his sister, an accounts officer, helps out with bills for his house, Internet and telephone to the tune of $500 a month.

Regulars’ favourite

Mr Sim appears to have earned the affection of regulars at the McDonald’s Northpoint branch.

A 39-year-old housewife who is at the restaurant every day and gave her name as Ms Zai said: “Kids normally like him. He’s very cute and makes them laugh”.

He amuses patrons with his various hats – he said he has eight. They include a farmer’s hat and a cowboy’s hat.

Added Ms Zai: “Sometimes when I have a stressful day, I come in and see how jovial he is. It makes me smile and makes my day.”

Another customer, a retiree in his 70s who gave his name as Mr Chew, said MrSim “does everything except take out the trash”.

He added: “Sometimes I’m a bit dizzy and he’ll help my carry my tray. It’s wonderful that he’s willing to help.”

Mr Sim denies being over-enthusiastic, though.

“I might be crazy. But the right kind of crazy, not the wrong kind,” he said, before high-fiving a customer.

Source: The New Paper