If you don't like to meet people, don't ever be a taxi driver, because you are going to meet a lot of them. I, for one like to meet people and it's one of the benefit I get for being a taxi driver. I get to meet the good, the bad and the ugliest of the lot. In the process, I sharpen my social skills and broaden my perspective of life. At the heart of this propensity of mine is, I suspect, a desire for experience with different people.
Now, I believe most cabbies probably don't remember the first fare they picked, but I do. I did a posting in August of my first few passengers on my first day as a cabby. I keep notes of interesting encounters and post them here when I've the time.
I notice that for some strange reason, when a passenger or couples or groups get into a cab they become very un-selfconscious. They talk and behave like they're in the privacy of their bed room, oblivious that a total stranger who is just two feet infront. Office gossips, business meetings, love talk and marriage proposals all take place in taxi cabs. They do things in the cab that they would otherwise never do in public.
Once, I had a white man in business suit at the airport, making a love talk to a local Chinese girl, expressing in pretentious Singlish, his desperate desire to bed her right away and how he loves her small tits. Such lucid sexual remarks would normally be for nobody ears. But he spoke like nobody was around. He only cut short his love talk, when a call came in from his wife and then he spoke scornfully, and in loveless American lingo with her. I got to witness a contrast of two different characters from the same man, a rapacious lover and a cheating husband. On another occasion, I can't help eavedropping on two young men's plan on how to cheat a third party on the mahjong table.
The most interesting drama I witnessed was how a couples break up, fall in love, and even make love in the back of my cab. I had all three happen during the same cab ride. I was a rookie and was not familiar with many roads. I picked up this Chinese young couple at Clark Quay. They tumbled into the back set laughing and giggling and gave me an address near Steven Road that still confuses me. I hadn't driven more than a kilometer, when the mood in the back suddenly changed.
"You, horrible, just now," said the girl angrily in Singlish.
"Yah, meh?" slurred the boyfriend.
"You talked to other girls like no see me..., no "hue" me at all'."
"You look ok, mah."
"What ok? I very angry, want to cry."
"Hey, don't like that, lah."
"Really. I hate you."
"You say what?"
"I don't love you, liao."
"You drink a lot, I think" says the boyfriend with a heavy sigh, "that's why you talk cock."
"No, I really want to break up"
This, I thought to myself, was going to be a long ride for these two young punk. We still had about 10 or 15 minutes to go. There was nothing but silence from the back seat.
Then, from the back, I heard bodies shifting in the seat, the sounds of murmuring and kissing, of clothes being pulled at and unbuttoned. I glanced up at my rear view mirror, but couldn't see anything. They were clearly taking advantage of the hidden view.
"Say" she whispered.
"Say," she repeated, followed by the sounds of more kissing and some slurping noises.
"Say," she plead. "Never leave me."
The goings-on in the back were becoming a serious distraction. And I didn't know where I was going. I've no intention of stopping or interfering with what they were doing but I was totally lost.
"Excuse me," I interrupted them at a traffic light. "Can you tell me which way to go?"
The two stopped what they were doing, pulled themselves together, and checked where they were.
"Sorry, uncle, go straight, turn left and stop" said the boyfreind.
In less than 5 kilometers, these two had broken up, found each other again and made love. The fair was $8.75. The boyfriend handed me a ten and told me to keep the change. Not a bad tip, either.