Ping: the mystery of the Subway icon revealed

Ping and Alumni Adriana Ballas pose for a selfie before Adriana buys a Subway meal. Photo contributed by Ping.

Known for her over 100-second snapchat stories chronicling SAS life and cheeky note-writing on Subway sandwiches, Ping is a school favorite. However, while any high school student will immediately recognize her smiling face behind the Subway cashier, not as many know her backstory.  

Ping comes from a family of four. Her father, now retired, used to be a gardener, while her mother is currently working as a food vendor at a hawker stall. Ping’s brother, on the other hand, is a 40-year-old police officer in Singapore.

As a child, she grew up in the Ang Mo Kio area and attended Ai Tong Middle School. Ping’s middle school years were lighthearted and were comprised of playing small, funny pranks on her teacher and making long-lasting friendships. She then went on to attend secondary school at Guang Yang High School in Bishan.

“During my childhood, I read comic books in my free time and played volleyball for the school team,” Ping said. “I also used to be really quiet and shy – I only started to open up once I got here.”

Following high school, Ping took care of her mother for a few years and then immediately started her first job as the SAS Subway lady at age 20.

“I saw the job opening from a newspaper advertisement, had an interview, and then got the job right away!” Ping said.

Ping poses for a photo in the 2001 SAS yearbook with other Subway employees. Photo from Islander 2001.

She has been working here ever since.

Every day, Ping wakes up at 5 a.m. to catch the MRT, transfer to the shuttle bus, and then finally reach campus by 7 a.m. Once she arrives, she does some paperwork and sets up the cashier as students start to stream in. Her work day finally ends at 5 p.m. every week day.

Despite her busy schedule, Ping still loves her work.

“I like my job a lot. The students are always kind, smiling, positive, funny, and interesting. Any bad day will become a good day,” Ping said.

Certainly, Ping has a very positive effect on students as well. She makes sure to keep up with SAS’ couples, entertaining students through her witty Snapchats and Facebook posts. She is the matchmaker of prom season, an alumni favorite, and a friend to all.

“Ping is super friendly and very involved with the SAS social scene,” senior Michael Chu said. “Everybody loves Subway because they know that at the end of the line offering you a cookie is Ping!”

Junior Toorno Mishra completely agreed.

“She’s quite up to date with the latest gossip, especially with relationships. And in addition, she’s very outgoing and dedicated,” Toorno said.

But in addition to befriending students, Ping also befriends faculty members. At SAS, she is closest to high school math and computer science teacher Julie Goode.

Ping poses for a photo on SAS campus after her work shift ends. Photo contributed by Ping.

“Ms. Goode always came to Subway, and then we started talking on Facebook about T.V. shows and daily life, and she Snapchatted me how her family was spending Christmas,” Ping said. “Sometimes, we go out shopping together, and there was even one time when I had to bring her home after she had knee surgery. She is very helpful.”

Apart from hanging out with Ms. Goode, Ping also spends her free time on miscellaneous activities which include knitting, paper crafts, and filming street performances. But these hobbies only last around a month. In the end, the one thing that endures is the relationships she forms with students.

“The students make me happy. Some of them who have graduated and came back to visit still remember me,” Ping said.

While students come and go, Ping won’t be leaving for a long while. Until then, she will continue to capture the spirit of SAS through her humor, friendliness, and compassion.

Author: Jeane Khang

Jeane Khang is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Eye, along with Jenna Nichols, and is a producer of the Morning Show. This is her third year taking a journalism class and her 11th year at SAS. In her free time, she loves to learn dance routines, listen to music and eat Italian food.

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