Sometimes, love blossoms in the least likely of places.
For Kevin Yap, 59, and Lynda Seah, 53, their love story began, and continues to grow, at Cold Storage.
Guided by fate, as they both put it, to be colleagues-turned-soulmates.
While they have been assigned to different stores, and have had to negotiate long hours and conflicting schedules, their relationship has thrived over the years.
The couple, who are now both Supermarket Managers, tell us more about how working together in the same job has only made their relationship that much stronger.
Met in 1987, got together eight years later
They met at Cold Storage Katong, 34 years ago.
Back then, Kevin worked as a Grocery Executive, and Lynda, as an administrative assistant. However, while they got acquainted as colleagues, neither party developed any romantic interest in the other.
As Kevin put it, "nothing happened."
Evidently, it was not love at first sight, and they eventually went down their own paths.
Then, in 1996, their careers — and lives — once again intersected.
Kevin and Lynda had since been promoted to Supermarket Manager and Department manager respectively, at different outlets.
Says Kevin, "I was running Cold Storage Jelita back then, and we needed someone skilled in the Dairy and Frozen Department. Lynda's name came up, and her knowledge and experience in the area warranted her coming in".
That transfer would mark the beginning of their love story.
Through several more encounters, Kevin and Lynda's relationship progressed steadily and naturally, as they had many opportunities for interaction while working closely together.
Eventually, they tied the knot in 2000, and will celebrate their 21st anniversary this year.
"If it's meant for you, it's meant for you," says Kevin, reflecting on the way they ended up together nine years after the first time they met.
Creating time together at every opportunity
The pair credit the strength of their relationship to a few key principles — love, trust, mutual respect, and understanding — as well as a promise they made to each other when they married — to "communicate, communicate, communicate."
Despite having busy schedules — so busy, in fact, that the interview had to be done in Takashimaya after Kevin ended a shift, with Lynda video-calling in during a break — they make it a point to share everything, good or bad, with each other.
Phone calls are a daily occurrence — a comfort whenever either partner faces an issue at work. These calls, they explain, help them to work out their issues together.
Additionally, whenever Kevin works late, Lynda will travel down from her workplace at the Aperia Mall outlet in Lavender to his outlet at Takashimaya in Orchard, so that they can travel home together.
And Kevin does the same for Lynda as well.
"We are firm believers of the mindset that no matter how busy we are, we need to create time to be together. Even if it's just 15 minutes. Every minute and every second that we are able to be together, is time that we embrace and cherish."
The value of a common interest
Given that feeling disconnected can be a source of relationship stress, the couple said that sharing a common interest and passion for their job has been an important unifying factor for them.
Kevin and Lynda explain:
"If you have a relationship where there are no relatable topics you're able to share, you might find a slight rift in the relationship or feel left out."
"We feel blessed that we are in the same field, because we can easily share things with each other on any topic and relate. If I share something, she understands, and if she shares something, I understand."
"It's easier to communicate that way."
Quips Kevin, "In fact, many of our colleagues consider us a 'power couple'. Sometimes, it's even like 'Buy one, get one [manager]'," he says, referring to how the couple will often help each other out with issues at work and come up with solutions together.
While Kevin does not shy away from the fact that his colleagues hold him in high regard, he is also quick to attribute his success to Lynda's unwavering support for him over the years.
"My wife is my rock," he says, adding that "without her trust in me, I would not be where I am today."
"Understand and compromise" for a lasting relationship
Like any other couple, Kevin and Lynda say that the demands of work have at times posed a challenge to their relationship.
But going through these difficult times together has only strengthened their bond.
They recall a period of time when Kevin was assigned to a project which involved a five-month long trip to India, when he had to leave Lynda and their sons behind.
Says Kevin, "Back then, she did not hesitate in wholeheartedly supporting the decision, and letting me go."
And on Kevin's end, he never failed to call Lynda and his sons every night that he was away.
"It's about caring, whether the situation is good or bad. You cannot just think for yourself.
Understand and compromise, and the relationship will survive."
A special celebration this year
This year though will mark a first for the couple; they will both enjoy a long weekend together, as both their work schedules are clear for the first two days of Chinese New Year (Feb. 12 and 13).
In all their years working at Cold Storage, one of them has always had to work on either of the two first days, making this year's long weekend especially precious.
Their schedules are also clear for Valentine's Day on Feb. 14, giving them the opportunity to take the time off, and enjoy the day together.
The couple share that they are elated to take a well-deserved break, sharing that they will be celebrating the new year simply with family, and having a "double date" with their eldest son, who just got married in December 2020.
And in the long term, it seems they intend to bring their journey together full circle, with Kevin speaking about their career plans in no uncertain terms: "we intend to work at Cold Storage until we retire."
"There's no other place. Both of us see this place like our home.
If we are not at home, we are here. It is our second home now."
Stories of Us is a series about ordinary people in Singapore and the unique ways they’re living their lives. Be it breaking away from conventions, pursuing an atypical passion, or the struggles they are facing, these stories remind us both of our individual uniqueness and our collective humanity.
All images courtesy of Kevin Yap