We can smell a drunk by the way he walks, dress and flagging of his hands. We avoid such troublesome customers at all cost but sometime we are taken by surprise when a decoy is used. A sober man would flag down our cab and then dump his drunken friend from nowhere. At times, we are ambushed at traffic junctions and side walks with no chance of escape.
Our fear is not only the non-payment of fare, washing of vomits in the cab but also the difficulty in clearing a drunk at the end of the journey. Very often, we have to off load them at the nearest police station for our man in blue to clear the mess. That seem to be the solution to all the problems we taxi drivers have
My first encounter with a drunkard customer happened on a Wednesday night at One Fullerton Building.
I was the last taxi in a long queue of about 10 cabs. A Caucasian man suddenly threw himself onto the back seat of my cab and instructed me to send him to Leedon Court off Holland Road.
As he looked sober, I did not suspect him to be a drunkard although the air in my cab smelt of liquor. Anyway, momentarily I considered myself lucky for not having to wait in a long queue for a customer.
I drove off along Shenton Way towards AYE and within minutes, I was cruising along the expressway.
Along the journey, there was total silence in my cab except for the smoothing music of my radio.
Suddenly, I heard a few loud vomiting sounds, coupled with rough coughs at my back.
I turned around and saw the man throwing his disgusting filth onto the floor mat of my cab. His vomit was like a ready-mix concrete truck discharging it's cement.
An over powering smell of rotten garbage soon filled my taxi. I quickly winded down all the window and stopped my taxi at the shoulder of the expressway. I knew that stopping at the expressway was a traffic offence, entailing a fine of $150 and 6 demerit points, but I've no choice. I got down from my cab to open the back door for him to continue his vomiting to outside of the taxi.
I asked him whether he was alright. He did not answer me but leaned back to his seat. Soon he was motionless and asleep like a newborn child.
As this was my first experience with a drunken in my taxi, I didn't know what to do.
I lighted up a cigarette and think of my next course of action. At my wits end, I decided to send the bloke to his home quickly. After 10 minutes, we were at his condo.
"Sir, wake up. We are at your home". I said while shaking his heavy shoulder.
Out of the blue, he became alive and took out his wallet to pass me his credit card.
"Sorry for the trouble, mate. Key in any extra you like". he said with a heavy heave and slammed back to his seat. The meter read $20. I felt an extra $30 as a service charge for washing the vomit later at a petrol station was appropriate. Within minutes I got a receipt printed out.
I turned to pass the credit card and receipt to the man but found him still fast asleep.
I opened the door to the back seat and shake his shoulders violently.
"Wake Up, Man". I shouted at him.
He slowly regained his sense and gingerly got out the cab.
He couldn't walk properly and I held on to his shoulder to walk him to the lobby main door and settled him down on a sofa nearby.
I placed the receipt and credit card into his shirt pocket and bid him good-bye. He did not respond.
I quickly drove to my regular washing station and got the boys to clean up the filth.
I had to call it a day after the clean up as I was in no mood to continue driving.
What a day, I sighed.