Saturday, 25 February 2012

A Ploy to Cheat.

"Whoever dare to cheat a cabby will have to settle with me in Hell!

It was late, 4am. All the bars in the CBD had closed and the only work left was catching the few drunks and stragglers on the streets. Even that was difficult as so few were left on a Tuesday night. I was wondering whether to call it a night or made a last cruise around Chinatown, when out of nowhere, a young Chinese couple stumbled in front of my cab at a traffic light. They hailed and I waved them to get in. I felt lucky to  have passengers at last after half an hour of cruising to nowhere.

The couple appeared inebriated, hugging each other in tight embrace like trying to help each other from falling over and laughing. And as soon as they landed themselves on to the back seat, they continued laughing and sung loudly like they were still in a karaoke club.

"Where to?" I asked, interrupting their daffing.

"Ang Mo Kio St. 52."  the young woman replied, giggling. I punched the meter and speed off.

My radio was softly broadcasting the BBC news.

"Uncle, Can you put on some Chinese music?" the guy asked politely.

Yeah, sure, I answered, tuning the radio to one of MediaCorp's Class 933. The SHE's "Nothing Ever Change" filled the cab.

"This song ab-so-lute-ly rocks!" slurred the girl. "Thanks, Uncle."

"Welcome" I replied tiredly, as I was in no mood to socialize with a couple of "duffers" at that hour. It didn't matter anyway. The two in the back were onto other things, and seemed to be "smoothing" each other.

Twenty minutes went by and suddenly, there was stirring in the back seat.

"Hey!" the girl shouted. "That F@#$%g hurt!"

"Ah, c'mon," the guy said.

"No," she continued. "That really hurt."

"Look, I was just trying to have a little fun," he countered.

"Get your dirty hands off me."

"Hey, what's the problem?"

"You're a pig, you know that?" she screamed.

"What the hell do you know?," he shouted back.

"A lot more than you think, you pig !" she bombarded him with her waspish tongue.

"Uncle, is she crazy?" the guy tapped my shoulder, wanting me to join their "conjugal strife".

"Leave me out of this", I told him peevishly, wishing then I had quitted for the night.

"Yeah, pig, leave him out of it!"

Then, I could hear the tones of a cellphone being dialed.

"I'm calling your wife up right now," she said. "I'm going tell her all about her fucking pig of a husband."

"F@#$%" he said, reaching across the seat to grab the phone back.

I could feel the phone fly past my ear. It hit the front windshield with a heavy smack!

That's it. I pulled the car over. I picked up the cellphone, held it in front of the guy, and then the girl quickly grabbed the phone, opened the door and bolted from the car.

"Crazy bitch," he said, as she crossed the street and disappears around a corner.

"Look, I got to get her. Wait here and we'll be right back, honest." the guy pleaded.

"OK", I said, shaking my head. He took off, and I was left cursing myself for not getting him to leave something behind. Sure enough, three, five, then seven minutes passes and there's no sign of them. They were gone.

I was at the street they gave me, and it occurred to me that I've been hooked. This was a set-up from the beginning. All the screaming and the drama was a ploy to beat the fare, an elaborate charade to cheat a dumb old cabby. And I fell for it. Probably next night they'll come up with a different routine, maybe where one of them pretends to get sick, or needs to run into a store for cigarettes. Who knows?

The $20 fare was gone with the wind and I sadly drifted home like a falling leaf in a thunder storm.


Sen said...

Real life is far far stranger than fiction... it is really sad that people will stoop to such levels... Appalling behavior!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought this was going to become a ghost story!

Btw, great blog. Keep on writing! :)

Bai Hu said...

Hi James,
Just stumbled upon your blog while looking for the old blog by Dr. Cai Mingjie (another cool taxi driver). I feel really angry when some of your passengers can stoop so low to cheat your taxi fare. I believe karma will catch up on them, it is only in a matter of time. The only thing i am glad is that u are still safe cos i worry these idiots will rob u at knife point. At the meantime, keep yourself safe and i wish u all the best :)