Friday 28 June 2013

Save Yourself, Buddies.

Cabbies, the world over, is at the bottom of the food chain, one of the lowest caste in the city, vilified and demonized by most people and holding no power whatsoever, an easy and perfect target for abuses, assaults and robberies. And these horrendous felonies does happen here, in Singapore - a First World City and it always involves "ordinary" passengers.

You might think that Singapore is a safe place with low crime rate but low crime rate does not mean no crime. Assaults, robbery, murder, burglary, rape etc... does happen here, albeit not frequently. I have had people who verbally abuses or ripe me off for not paying the fare, sure, but I have never a passenger pull out a weapon to assault or rob me.

I'm a night shift driver and is most vulnerable to serious crime. Had I ever being robbed in the last 6 years on my job?. No....touch wood!..How do I keep myself safe?. I have a system.

A police officer friend of mine once told me that - the one you think it is, IT IS. What he meant was that people who commit stupid, violent crimes show it clearly in their behavior. And holding up a taxi driver at knife point in the hope of getting, what? - a couple of hundred dollars? - is a really stupid crime because the idiot is risking years in jail in order to get so little.

After you drive a cab for six months or so you begin to become quite familiar with the various types of passengers you tend to get on any given day. Generally, your customers are people who can afford to pay the fare and fit into certain categories, like business travelers, tourists, office workers, family with children, ordinary people, etc...etc... So the odd person who does not fit into one of these categories stands out like a sore thumb and that is the person you pay careful attention to.

And that is where my system begins and I would like to share it with my taxi buddies, especially those who recently joined the rank. I'm not trying to be a smart Alex....don't get me wrong....just sharing my experience.


POINT ONE: the passenger is dressed like an ordinary "Ah Beng" - a guy in plain pant/shirt and shoe but somehow, he has a look of a "thug" with suspicious demeanour and mustached, coloured hair, fierce, unsmiling face with tattooed arms. I would drive right past him without stopping, give him a miss.

POINT TWO: But somehow, "Ah Beng" got into my cab. If he wants to go is a well-populated place, I have no problem with it. Even a stupid criminal is smart enough not to try to stick you up in the middle of Orchard Road. But if he wants to go to the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery at 2am in the morning, then it's trouble in the brew. This is the critical time for a cab driver. The wrong thing to do is to "hope". You don't want to find yourself in that dark, deserted place with this guy. But, it would also be wrong to refuse to drive him there. Maybe he's okay. But you don't know that yet, and what must be done at this point is to find out.

I do it by forcing myself to have a conversation with him. I will just start talking to this guy about ANYTHING. As I am talking to him, I am carefully watching his reaction in the mirror. I am trying to get a "feel" for the guy. Interestingly, 99 percent of the time he turns out to be okay. I can see by the way he talks that he does not have an evil intention. But what about that one percent? What if the guy speaks with some hostility, is sarcastic, or won't communicate at all? What if I still have a bad feeling about the guy? Then.............I GOT TO GET HIM OUT OF MY CAB!. 

POINT THREE: he must be OUT OF MY CAB. How to get rid of him smartly?. There are three basic ways to do it: Most importantly, I must do it in a busy place where there are lots of people around.

A) Overtly.

You pull up next to a police car and announce to the passenger that you don't like the feeling of this ride and you're not continuing on with it. You don't charge the guy for the ride but if he has a problem, there's the police officer. What if there's no cop around, order him out of the cab. Make sure you stop in a place where you can pull away the moment his foot touches the pavement.

This overt method of ordering him out of the cab is not recommended. It could lead to a confrontation or a ticket for a refusal from LTA. Better than that are the other two methods, the sneaky methods, both of which require a little acting skill...

B) Covertly, Part 1.

There is something wrong with the car. Stop your cab and press your foot lightly on the brake to the point where the red "brake" light appears on the dashboard. Then announce to the passenger that the brake light just came on, the brake system is jammed and you need to call a tow truck.

C) Covertly, Part 2.
There's something wrong with you. One way of doing this is the fake cell phone call. You pull out your cell phone and pretend that you're having a conversation with a family member. There has been a terrible accident and a relative has been taken to the hospital. You must get there at once. Sorry, but you're going to have to drop him off right now. No charge.

And then there is the most drastic, yet effective, way of all: "Very sorry, it's really embarrassing to say this, but I have diarrhea." No need to elaborate! Just remember to do this only in a busy place with lots of people around.

So, there you have it. If you are a cab driver, I urge you to remember, study and practice the system. You never know, you might be saving yourself a lot of trouble or your life. Good Luck, Buddy.

I made a request at ((Link) on how to protect ourselves against felonies and below were some useful suggestions:


"Get a black belt. biggrin
Well, never argue with an idiot even though you know he is wrong. Drive straight to a police post near by if you think he is not going to pay or be prepared to write-off that couple of bucks and take it as a lesson. I have witnessed a drunker assaulted a taxi driver at Chulia street. the victim was wheeled to hospital by an ambulance but the assailant walked away scot-free after the police note down his particular."


WB said...

All this trouble just to earn a few bucks? Geez, I really sympathize with you guys.

If these assault cases becomes too frequent as we now have all sorts of trash being imported to bolster the population then I might suggest that there be a secured barrier separating the taxi driver and his passengers as is practised in some parts of the world. If this is impractical or might cast aspersions on this country's reputation for being safe, then we should consider arming taxi drivers with some kind of deterrent for self defence.

Another way is to make violence against taxi drivers a very serious offence meriting mandatory jail time with canning. Fines are definitely no deterrent.

I just think that some of the measures you have suggested might not work if the passenger perps. really intend to rob or harm you guys.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, WB.

Thanks for your useful comments.

I personally feel that a CCTV installed INSIDE the cab might be a
powerful deterrent against aspiring criminals. But, as you know, this Government never listen to public suggestions. Only they alone know what's is best for the citizens. I hate them!

William said...

Well, the government say that CCTV cannot install in the taxi as we should respect the privacy of the passenger.

But what privacy? all thing done inside can be seen or heard by us!!! That was once a couple was something that you would do in the bedroom inside my taxi!!!

So installation of CCTV is strongly encourage by me too...

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, William,

Thanks for your support of my suggestion.

With a CCTV inside a cab, any lost items taken & kept by the taxi driver is also recorded. But this can only happen if CCTV is mandated by law.

Saran SMith said...

very sad story but cctv support will be effected for this but its not allowed so drivers should careful and as you i know everything happened in taxis which are unbearable but drivers bear it so there should be a safe thing for drivers and also Govt should give him rights that if illegal thing happened in taxi then Drivers can take any action.

PSS said...

Hi James,

Nice and informative post.

Would certainly come in handy if one day I am old and kanna retrenched.

Cheers :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u...

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concerned citizen said...

i salute your friend Johnny for driving at 73.

i was former spf too.