|"Deal with me if you want to cheat"|
All the bars in the city had closed. It was 4am on a Monday morning. Only a few drunks and stragglers were on the streets. Even to get them was difficult as so few were left and many empty cabs were competing to nab them.
I was wondering whether to head home or made a last cruise around Chinatown. Then, out of nowhere, a young Chinese couple stumbled in front of my cab at a traffic light. They hailed and I happily waved them to get in. I felt lucky to finally have passengers after half an hour of cruising around.
The couple appeared inebriated and were wobbling and 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 singing loudly like they were still in a karaoke pub. They smacked of alcohol.
"Where to?" I asked, interrupting their duffing.
"Ang Mo Kio Ave 10." 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.
"Wow, 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.
Soon, the two in the back were onto other things and seemed to be "smoothing" each other.
Ten minutes went by and suddenly, there was stirring in the back seat.
"Hey!" the girl shouted. "That F@#$%g hurt!"
"Ah, c'mon," the guy said.
"No," she continued. "That really hurt."
"Look, I was just trying to have a little fun," he countered.
"Get your dirty hands off me."
"Hey, what's the problem?"
"You're a pig, you know that?" she screamed.
"What the hell do you know?," he shouted back.
"A lot more than you think, you pig !" she bombarded him with her waspish tongue.
"Uncle, is she crazy?" the guy tapped my shoulder, wanting me to join their "conjugal strife".
"Leave me out of this", I told him peevishly, wishing then I had quit for the night.
"Yeah, pig, leave him out of it!"
Then, I could hear the tones of a cellphone being dialed.
"I'm calling your wife up right now," she said. "I'm going tell her all about her f*** pig of a husband."
"F@#$%" he said, reaching across the seat to grab the phone back.
Then, I could feel the phone fly past my ear. It hit the front windshield with a heavy smack!
Immediately, I pulled the car over. We were at AMK Ave. 10. I picked up the cellphone, held it in front of the guy, and then the girl quickly grabbed it, opened the door and dashed out.
"Crazy bitch," he said, as she crossed the street and disappears behind a tree.
"Sorry, Uncle, I got to get her. She is drunk. Wait here and we'll be right back, honest." the guy pleaded.
"OK", I said, shaking my head. "But before that, can you pay the taxi fare first" I demanded.
"Uncle, I'll be back in a minute, Don't worry. I "soon-pa" (swear)". he reassured me.
With that swearing, he took off swiftly and soon disappeared into nowhere.
While waiting on tenterhooks, I cursed myself for not getting him to leave something valuable behind or detained him from leaving.
Sad to say, with a boney frame of mine and being physically infirm, I was not in a favorable position to make any demand, detain or chase after him. Sure enough, three, five, ten, then fifteen minutes passed and there was no sign of them. They were gone.
It drawn on me that I've been hooked and calling 999 would be a waste of time, I reckoned.
This was a set-up from the start. All the laughing, screaming and the drama was a ingenious ploy to cheat the fare, an elaborate charade to cheat a dumb old cabby. And I fell for it.
Probably, the next night they'll come up with a different routine, maybe one of them would pretends to be sick and needs to run into 7Eleven for panadol or cigarettes. Who knows?
On hindsight, I should have "locked" the doors to prevent sudden escape of this sort but on the other hand, if I had locked the doors and if a desperate robber panicked with locked doors, he might slit my throat to ensure a smooth escape.
In the end, only the $20 fare was gone with the wind as I sadly drifted home like a falling leaf in a thunder storm. I am still alive today to live another day.
In reality, I think there is no fool proof way to avert a plotted robbery or fare cheats. As I value my life more than the fungible money, I'll let them cheat my fare or rob me of the meager monies I had with me.
I praise the "Lord" if they leave me in one piece to earn my living the next day.