If you've been a reader here for a long time (and I thank you), you may noticed that my posts had become less frequent lately. That was because there are only so many hours in a day and I was spending more and more time on the road due to LTA's mandatory 250km/day ruling on taxis. Inevitably, it takes a toll on this old boney frame of mine and I seriously need more rest and sleep to stay alive.
Anyway, I'm not a fast writer and like to roast phrases over and over until the they sound right to my mental ear like the sound of biting into a well roasted, succulent Peking duck. Honestly, I would love to write more but because..excuses, ....excuses.!
Now, seriously, I've been longing to write this post lately. Why?. To get rid of all the rotten luck that had struck me since the beginning of this new year.
First, I don't know why I forgot to buy my regular 4D number and it came out First Price on the very day I forgot, resulting in 40k being blown away with the wind. More amazingly, I had three episodes a few night ago that could serve as a model of how despicable some local folks can be when money is concerned and what ass luck I had to I've met those ass-holes. And it all happened in a single night that gospelised the Hokkien saying - " Bo San Put Seng Lay" (meaning "No Three Is Bad Manners).
The chronology of the three episodes went something like this.
8.30 p.m. I picked up a Chinese lady, twenty something, at Parc Oasis in Jurong East. She told me that she was in a hurry to join the maddening crowd at the WP political rally at Rivervale Crescent. As we hid the PIE expressway, I could tell from the short conversation we had that she was a loyal WP supporter.
8.45 p.m. "Whom did you vote in the last G.E." came the shocking question. "Sorry. Miss, it's my secret". I replied promptly. There was total silence for the rest of the journey. She seems offended.
8.50 p.m. We stopped about half a kilometer from the rally site due to traffic jam. She paid the fare of about $25 with a credit card. I thanked her but she disembarked without a word and disappeared into the maddening rally crowd.
9.00 p.m. Stopping to have a puff, I routinely search for debris left by passengers. Wow!, sitting on the back seat was an iPhone. The phone was not locked but only 5% of battery was left, which means that if its owner doesn't call me soon, the phone will loose its charge and it cannot be returned. From experience, I checked the address book and called the best person - "Dad" with my phone.
He answered and I blah...blah...the story. "Return the phone to......and I'll pay you the metered fare. I promised", he promised soundly.
9.30 p.m. At reaching the agreed destination, an elderly man came to meet me and I handed over the iPhone. He thanked me and asked for a receipt of the fare. "Mister, may I come back with the money for the fare as I don't have enough now", he pleaded. "Ok, how much do you have now". I asked. He took out a $5 note but the fare was $20. "Ok, I'll wait for the balance". He never return. What promise?
10.00 p.m. After cruising without customers for about half an hour, I finally picked up two young Caucasian along Sixth Avenue. They wanted to drop at two places. First stop, a condo at Amber Road and then East Coast Road. I was delighted as the fare would be about $20. They looked decent and chatted among themselves with accents like British students at an International School here. But soon I was to discover that looks can be very deceiving.
After dropping the first guy, we reached the second drop-off in less than 5 minutes. East Coast Road around Frankle Ave was dimly lighted and deserted. As soon as I stopped my cab at the spot the chap wanted, he dashed out like a lighting flash into the darkness. My old weaken limbs could not gave chase and there went my half portion of succulent Peking duck. What ass luck!
11.30 p.m. Again, cruising around without passengers for another half an hour, I stopped at a traffic light junction of Orchard Road/Scotts Road/Patterson Road. In front of me was a white Mercedes Benz 350E, with a dark skinned driver. We waited for the traffic light to turn green so that we could turn right.
When the light did turned green, I expected the driver to move off and I lightly pressed on my accelerator to move forward. Shockingly, that joker remained stationary!. I bumped into his rear lightly. He got out of his Benz and me too. We examined for damages of his bumper. There was no serious damages or any dents, only a slight scratch at his bumper. He angrily accused me of being reckless and demanded a compensation of $800 for repair of his expensive Benz or he would make a police report to claim from my insurance company.
I admitted that I made a mistake and pleaded for forgiveness and compassion for an old taxi driver who does not earn much as a cabby. If an insurance claim is made against me, I would instantly loose a thousand bucks. That would mean about 200 hours of driving without pay.
After some intense pleading with him, he finally relented. I emptied my wallet of about $400 and gave it to him. I think he knew the damage to his car was very minor, only a slight scratch, almost invisible if you do not where to look for it and he does not want the hassle of making an insurance claim. Though he accepted my plead, he certainly wasn't magnanimous nor compassionate. He was greedy and could not resists the opportunity and temptation of making an easy few hundred dollars from a poor taxi driver. What f.... ass luck I had!
12.00 a.m. I decided to call it a day. Cruising smoothly along the coast with refreshing flowers and plants greeting me from the road side, made me changed my mood from one of cursing anger to one of cool and calm reflection of man's moral values. In a matter of less than 4 hours, I encountered three sets of despicable characters in Singapore....an elderly man breaking promises without shame, a set of fare cheats and a rich man without empathy for the less well off. All these three reprehensible characters shared one thing in common....the irresistible love of $$$$$$$.
With the current hustings at Rivervale Crescent, I hope the successful candidate who enters office is doing it out of pure goodness of character and not out of personal greed, fame, ambition or in love with $$$$$$$$$$. May the MP of Punggol East be that kind of person.
Sad to say that the bad Apple user had taken your kindness for granted.
Thumbs up ✔✔✔✔✔ to your kind heart. Wish good health to you and family.
Happy CNY! Gong Xi Fa Cai! 新年快樂！ 恭喜發財！
At least u got it off your chest James.
What a night!
Totally empathize with the feeling of a lousy start to 2013 (I had a pretty rough patch too)... hopefully it's the last bit of bad luck and all starts afresh with chinese new year!
may the coming lunar year bring us better days!
Hi, gm, dotseng & Anon...
A heart felt thanks to your well wishes, encouragement and empathy.
I wish all of you too "A Happy, Healthy and Lucky Chinese Lunar New Year"
Huat!, Huat!! Huat!!!.
Chinese saying "Ming tian hui geng hao!!"
Dear Mr. Lim,
I am a producer for a local TV production company doing research for a documentary on Taxi Drivers in Singapore. We would like to do an interview with you. If you can please email me your contact details, we would love to be able to tell you more about the project.
Thanks James for your write-out. I may become a taxi driver one day if I have no more recourse. Sound familiar. But at least I have first hand understanding of the life of a taxi - driver. Best Wishes for your year 2013
Hi, Camille Faylona
Thanks for your invitation to do an interview with you.
By nature, I'm a shy person who shun the limelight and therefore a feature of me in your TV production haunts me. If an interview over the phone is acceptable to you, I'm most willing to oblige. Please give me your response through this post.
So sorry I can't accede to your original request.
The best time to become a taxi driver is when you're retired at over 55...with no major financial commitments. If you're are young, you should venture into other fields with better opportunities for career advancement. Driving a cab is a dead end job with no prospect of career advancement, perhaps earning just enough for household and personal expenses.
Hi Mr. Lim,
No worries! I understand your hesitation. We are actually just doing the research for now. No filming yet and would like to speak to you in order to get some information to help us make our documentary. Could be invite you to come to our office sometime this week or next week for a quick chat?
You can just email me your response and we can speak further there: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Mr. Lim.....how long do i have to wait for lta approval after i pass my taxi license...?
If I'm not wrong, LTA will write to you within 10 days to ask you to pick up your taxi licence at their office at Sin Ming Rd.
pertaining to the ang moh who fled without paying the cab fare... it happens. no prejudice towards any race, cab fare cheats are heartless & i believe in karma.
"what goes around, comes around."
moving on to the Merc driver... what an asshole. sooner or later, he will rear-end another car too (preferbly, a Lambo, a Ferrari, a bentley, etc etc). his day will come, definitely.
to anon who enquired about when LTA will send a letter to u...
u will receive a letter from LTA within 2-3 weeks. then, when u go visit LTA, take a queue no., & u will be issued a TDVL within 20 mins.
good luck in your new career. u will need it. :)
Hi just read your blog and found all the 3 kinds of characters yiu have experienced as extremely repulsive. You have done a good deed by returning the iPhone, and yet the old man does not even have the decency to pay for your cab fare.
Anyway i also found the girl from the TV station inappropriate as well. Shes asking you for a favor, yet expects you to make the trip to her office while incurring costs and precious time to do so. Some people really think about themselves without sparing a thought for others. Really feel indignant about this.
When the TV station heard that they had to pay me JUST for the taxi fare and carpark fee, they withdrew their offer to interview me in their office saying they have a budget to follow. Instead they interviewed me on the phone to save the $20. I obliged as a matter of courtesy. Cheapskate!!
is not the tv station, is the production house used by the tv station
I wish there are more cab drivers like you James. I once left my brand new S3 on a cab. Tried to call it just minutes later but after a few rings, it was off-ed. I'm glad that there are still honestly people like you, I guess I just wasn't that lucky.
The comment might come late but better late than never.
I too drove a cab for a while. But unlike you, my course of actions differs somewhat.
The iPhone case. No cab drivers I know including myself will return. It's as simple as that. People in general don't appreciate kindness and we live life in a general way.
Angmo kids. Stay away. Stay far far away. They are nothing but trouble. Especially the Australian ones with the fake British accent.
The accident. Please put a video cam in your taxi and claim insurance accordingly.
Good luck mu friend.
I read your blogs on the kinds of injustices taxi Drivers suffered and I could relate and emphatise with the plight. Customer service jobs like taxi driving servicing the public is a scary thing when you encounter nasty passengers. Hope you have better luck always.
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