Like my passengers, not everyone were empathetic of my plight, as shown in the comments written in TR Emeritus, a prominent news media in our local blogsphere, that featured my post ( Link ). Of the over 70 comments, one or two questioned my integrity and conduct. I never like to swear but here I'll make an exception that every word about the incident with the four office girls is the truth, nothing but the truth....
To keep you updated, I went for job interviews to become a Limo Driver and discovered that the job entails irregular working hours. A Limo driver earns about $8 per trip fetching guests from airport to hotel or vice versa between 7am to mid-night and $13 from mid-night to 7am. He is also paid a basic monthly salary of $200. At most, he does 8/9 trips per day, as much time is spent waiting for guests arrival or in between each job. At about $2,000 per month, he earns much less than a taxi driver who drives a10 hours shift. The company pays for everything else and the driver is allowed to take the limousine home. It's suitable for a driver without a Taxi Vocational License.
Meanwhile, I'm happy to announce that I'll be driving a new taxi operator's cab next week and reckon everything should be back to normal in my life, although the last 3 weeks was a well deserved and unplanned rest.
In future, I shall treat all my customers with extra caution and never take them for granted. Actually, I should have known better with my age and experience. Nonetheless, I might have failed in some respect and shall strive to improve on my customer service henceforth.
Frankly, like many customer service jobs, driving a taxi is not easy particularly in dealing with difficult customers. That apart, driving a cab is often a lonesome and dull job on a night shift when no customer is on board. You are alone at long intervals with the radio or music from the CD as your only companion. When a passenger do come on board, they would probably tell you their destination and shut up after that. When you tried to ignite a conversation by tossing a couple of comments but receive a scant reply, you instantly know that he is not a conversationalist. Even if you do get someone to talk, the conversation usually dies off no sooner than it started.
People in my country are generally conservative, stressed with the pressure of life in a meritocratic society and tired after a day of hard work. Talking to a complete stranger, like a cabby is the last thing in their mind. They like to be left alone in the comfort of a cool rid and to engage in their sweet thoughts. I've no quarrel with that.
Usually, only tourists and foreigners would engage you with a conversation. While this is not surprising considering that they are new to this country and are interested in very thing they see and hear, only a few would talk to you interestingly for the entire trip. Like the locals, the conversation is often short. I suppose this is an universal trait of human behavior, i.e. talking to strangers is something that our parents discourage us from young, so much so that it had entrenched to become our second nature, like never eat something that smell disgusting.
Sad to say, some of my passengers consider themselves "socially superior" as soon as they boarded my taxi. Since they are paying for my service, they behave like a master and treat me as their servant. (a comment below is a classic example a person with this sort of mentally). Instantly, he comes my boss and every one of his command must be obediently obeyed or be verbally crucified. Fortunately, this group of people with this sort of arrogant attitude is in the minority. People in my country are mostly civic, understanding and kind. We have mutual respect for each other irrespective of our race, color, social status or job.
In my personal encounters as a taxi driver and at the risk of sounding racist or prejudiced, the fairer-skin, northern Indian FT professionals, especially ladies, are the worst culprits in term of their attitudes towards taxi drivers. In their country, they are probably high up on the social ladders with lots of servants at their command. They can get away with bullying and intimidating anybody socially lower than them, especially if they paying for their wages or services.
My observation is based on a number of encounters with such people in my seven years of driving and recently, my view was verified by my course instructor of my new taxi operator. They all the same. They would speak to you rudely with an arrogant look and expect a submissive reply. If your reply is not pleasing to their ears, they would attack you with their barrack of "craps". In their country. I suspect they would probably spit into your face in disgust and kick you like a dog and get away with it. They have no respect for taxi drivers here and their undisguised opprobrium and distaste of us is common knowledge in the taxi fraternity.
To such ladies, the exhilaration they experience from bulling a taxi driver is just too sweet to resist. And to similar minded customers, I want to say this:
"Please don't look down on us because we are cabbies. I'm not a beggar and don't cheat the system to get welfare. I've a job. It may not be glamorous or something you would do. Please give me the smallest modicum of respect for having a job and is able to use that word in proper context".
But thankfully, there are many more customers who provide wonderful examples of qualities I admire—tolerance, kindness, and above all, understanding under pressure of the most trying kind. They are ordinary men and women who gives you a pleasant smile and speak to you respectfully, though they might have untold problem of their own. To them I want to say ‘Thank you. Sir and Madam’ through this piece of posting.
And also a big THANK YOU:-
-To that local Indian lady, who gave me a chance to learn when I started off as a rookie.
-To a Malay lady who gave me a $2 "ang pow" for good luck, when she realized that it was my first day at work.
-To an elderly couple, who bear no complaints against me when I took a wrong and long way to get to their home, instead rewarded me with a tip for engaging them in a nice chit chat.
-To a Korean man in business suit, who paid me $50 for short trip from Esplanade Mall to Fullerton Hotel, knowing that it would made me very happy for doing a short trip.
-To all my passengers who empathize and share my joy and frustration during our short time together.
Most important of all, to all my customers who bestowed me with kindness and appreciation of my service and gave me a tip as a token of appreciation, I want to say "Thank You" again. Your tip, no matter what amount, made me a happier old taxi driver and I'm eternally grateful.
My ‘thank you’ is a kind of gratitude-in-advance, for should I become incapacitated to drive for whatever reasons, I will have you as an examples to follow and show to my grandchildren.
Finally, before I forget, I want to express my appreciation again to all my supportive readers. You're my motivation and inspiration for driving and blogging. Thank You So Much!