Thursday 4 September 2014

Good People - Thank You So Much!

First of all, I wish to express my sincerest thanks to all my readers and friends who offered their support, sympathy, and encouragement at my recent predicament of losing my taxi driving job at COMFORT. 

Like my passengers, not everyone were empathetic of my plight, as shown in the comments written in TR Emeritus, a prominent news media in our local blogsphere that featured my post ( Link ). Of the over 70 comments, one or two questioned my integrity and conduct. I never like to swear but here I'll make an exception that every word about the incident with the four office girls is the truth, nothing but the truth....

To keep you updated, after I lost my driving job at COMFORT, I went for job interviews to become a Limo Driver and discovered that the job entails irregular working hours. A Limo driver earns about $8 per trip fetching guests from airport to hotel or vice versa between 7am to mid-night and $13 from mid-night to 7am. He is also paid a basic monthly salary of $200. At most, he does 8/9 trips per day, as much time is spent waiting for guests arrival or in between each job. At about $2,000 per month, he earns much less than a taxi driver who drives a10 hours shift. The company pays for everything else and the driver is allowed to take the limousine home. It's suitable for a driver without a Taxi Vocational License.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to announce that I'll be driving a new taxi operator's cab next week and reckon everything should be back to normal in my life, although the last 3 weeks was a well deserved and unplanned rest.

In future, I shall treat all my customers with extra caution and never take them for granted. Actually, I should have known better with my age and experience. Nonetheless, I might have failed in some respect and shall strive to improve on my customer service henceforth.

Frankly, like many customer service jobs, driving a taxi is not easy particularly in dealing with difficult customers. That apart, driving a cab is often a lonesome and dull job on a night shift when no customer is on board. You are alone at long intervals with the radio or music from the CD as your only companion. When a passenger do come on board, they would probably tell you their destination and shut up after that. When you tried to ignite a conversation by tossing a couple of comments but receive a scant reply, you instantly know that he is not a conversationalist. Even if you do get someone to talk, the conversation usually dies off no sooner than it started.

People in my country are generally conservative, stressed with the pressure of life in a meritocratic society and tired after a day of hard work. Talking to a complete stranger, like a cabby is the last thing in their mind. They like to be left alone in the comfort of a cool rid and to engage in their sweet thoughts. I've no quarrel with that.

Usually, only tourists and foreigners would engage you with a conversation. While this is not surprising considering that they are new to this country and are interested in very thing they see and hear, only a few would talk to you interestingly for the entire trip. Like the locals, the conversation is often short. I suppose this is an universal trait of human behavior, i.e. talking to strangers is something that our parents discourage us from young, so much so that it had entrenched to become our second nature, like never eat something that smell disgusting.

Sad to say, some of my passengers consider themselves "socially superior" as soon as they boarded my taxi. Since they are paying for my service, they behave like a master and treat me as their servant. (a comment below is a classic example a person with this sort of mentally). Instantly, he comes my boss and every one of his command must be obediently obeyed or be verbally crucified. Fortunately, this group of people with this sort of arrogant attitude is in the minority. People in my country are mostly civic, understanding and kind. We have mutual respect for each other irrespective of our race, color, social status or job.

In my personal encounters as a taxi driver and at the risk of sounding racist or prejudiced, the fairer-skin, northern Indian FT professionals, especially ladies, are the worst culprits in term of their attitudes towards taxi drivers. In their country, they are probably high up on the social ladders with lots of servants at their command. They can get away with bullying and intimidating anybody socially lower than them, especially if they paying for their wages or services.

My observation is based on a number of encounters with such people in my seven years of driving and recently, my view was verified by my course instructor of my new taxi operator. They all the same. They would speak to you rudely with an arrogant look and expect a submissive reply. If your reply is not pleasing to their ears, they would attack you with their barrack of "craps". In their country. I suspect they would probably spit into your face in disgust and kick you like a dog and get away with it. They have no respect for taxi drivers here and their undisguised opprobrium and distaste of us is common knowledge in the taxi fraternity.

To such ladies, the exhilaration they experience from bulling a taxi driver is just too sweet to resist. And to similar minded customers, I want to say this:  

"Please don't look down on us because we are cabbies. I'm not a beggar and don't cheat the system to get welfare. I've a job. It may not be glamorous or something you would do. Please give me the smallest modicum of respect for having a job and is able to use that word in proper context".

But thankfully, there are many more customers who provide wonderful examples of qualities I admire—tolerance, kindness, and above all, understanding under pressure of the most trying kind. They are ordinary men and women who gives you a pleasant smile and speak to you respectfully, though they might have untold problem of their own. To them I want to say ‘Thank you. Sir and Madam’ through this piece of posting.

And also a big THANK YOU:-

-To that local Indian lady, who gave me a chance to learn when I started off as a rookie.

-To a Malay lady who gave me a $2 "ang pow" for good luck, when she realized that it was my first day at work.

-To an elderly couple, who bear no complaints against me when I took a wrong and long way to get to their home, instead rewarded me with a tip for engaging them in a nice chit chat.

-To a Korean man in business suit, who paid me $50 for short trip from Esplanade Mall to Fullerton Hotel, knowing that it would made me very happy for doing a short trip.

-To all my passengers who empathize and share my joy and frustration during our short time together.

Most important of all, to all my customers who bestowed me with kindness and appreciation of my service and gave me a tip as a token of appreciation, I want to say "Thank You" again. Your tip, no matter what amount, made me a happier old taxi driver and I'm eternally grateful.

My ‘thank you’ is a kind of gratitude-in-advance, for should I become incapacitated to drive for whatever reasons, I will have you as an examples to follow and show to my grandchildren.

Finally, before I forget, I want to express my appreciation again to all my supportive readers. You're my motivation and inspiration for driving and blogging. Thank You So Much! 


Unknown said...

Wishing you all the best with the new taxi operator. I may have to go back to full time driving a taxi rather than part time. Major issue with my full time job.

Anonymous said...

Taxi drivers should change their paradigm once they are in the cab. Many think they are the boss and they are extending a privilege to the passengers. Bring your customers to where they want and not where you want and there will be no problem. Do not pass sardonic remarks because you have only this job, otherwise you can opt for early retirement and be the passenger instead. If you want to be a taxi driver, then acknowledge to yourself that the customer is your boss and behave accordingly. It is as simple as that to be successful as a cabby.

Sam Hwang said...

All the best to you in your "new job". Always look up and stay positive, no matter what comes your way.

Anonymous said...

Hi James.
It appears that You are a reciprocal and emotional man. You will trade apple for apple and an eye for an eye spontaneously and not one to remain quiet when challenged. This responsive characteristics is a common trait with many a sttaight forward person. No pretension, false adulation and even tolerance when being bullied. However, such traits make lousy service provider and employee for one gets antogonize easily and is likely to respond aggressively or in unfriendly manner.
Working life is full of challenges, even bosses face challenges, ups and downs are parts and parcels of living.

Wish You good health, good luck and few more years of workings and then enjoy many sweet years in retirement.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Sam Hwang & last preceding Anon.

Thanks to both of you for your concern and advice.

I shall bear in mind your advice after I start on my new driving job.

Thank you so much.

James Lim

asingaporeanson said...

Good luck for your future endeavor sir.

taxilim said...

Hi James,

Good Luck with your new company. To the anon who wrote about acknowledging that the customer is the boss and therefore the taxi driver must behave accordingly, you are totally wrong. Taxi driving is not about Master/Servant relationship. It is about professionalism. Mutual respect.

As a taxi driver, one should behave professionally and provide a good service and not because the customer is the boss, just because he or she pays for a service. When you visit a doctor, do you behave like a boss and demand that the doctor provides a speedy cure for you, whatever it takes? Do you talk to a doctor the way you would to a taxi driver? Why not? Because the doctor is perceived to be better educated than a taxi driver and therefore deserves more respect? How shallow can one be?

I am a part time taxi driver. I am a "boss" in my full time job. But I do not go around acting like a boss and expect my more than 500 staff and my vendors to behave "accordingly", whatever that means.

I treat my staff with respect and as colleagues. I treat my vendors as partners. In return, I find that I receive genuine respect from them. I try to be as professional as I can. I greet everybody, including the cleaner in my office everyday. Why shouldn't I?

Similarly, when I drive taxis, I try to be as professional as I can and so far, I have not encountered any serious problem.

I drive taxis because I find it to be an extremely interesting job and also because it is socially intriguing, such as how some people treat you just because you are a taxi driver.

As a paying customer, treat the taxi driver with respect if he has been professional. It speaks volume of your own upbringing and character. At the very least, it shows that you have some respect for yourself.

Anonymous said...

If you do not even know what accordingly even means how do you know you did not behave so? You have behaved accordingly that's why you do not have any problems driving a taxi. You do not have to behave like a boss in your full time job but if your subordinates try to boss you around then he will be in trouble, as simple as that. If you fail even to understand this then it speaks volumes about your education and/or leadership comprehension. Just because you claim to like driving a taxi does not mean every taxi driver does it for the same reason and behave the same way as you do. Just because I point out that the real world behaves in a certain way does not mean you know about my upbringing. I am merely giving a solution to taxi drivers in general to remain happy on the job by adopting the right paradigm and I do not have any vested interest in taxis. I have given solutions to fortune 100 multinationals with 6 figure staff strength so I certainly hope you are wrong to say I am wrong, otherwise these multinationals will also be wrong in their faith in me improving their OD. Passengers will respect cabbies who respect them. Passengers will not complain about cabbies if they respect them.
Taxilim is imagining and assuming too many things. People respect doctors who are professional and likewise will not respect them if they are not so it is not about whether they are doctors or taxi drivers or ministers or cleaners but everything about being professional so your point is moot. Anyway if taxi drivers adopt my suggestion then they will never have a complaint lodged against them and may even get a tip but if they want to behave arrogantly then they should not be a service provider, whether driving a taxi or being a doctor.

taxilim said...

Dear anon,

As I have said, mutual respect. Both cabbies and passengers. You have said so yourself.

I do not deny that there are taxi drivers who behaved arrogantly as if the world owes them a living. Such drivers deserve to be taken to task by their companies or LTA.

But perhaps I would like to ask you a question. What do you think of passengers who behave in an arrogant and condescending manner towards taxi drivers even though they have done no wrong, just because the passengers are paying and should therefore be the boss?

Andrew Chen said...

James, from a fellow Singaporean, all the best in your new job.

Since Cabs are considered as Public Transport, may I recommend that you install a Car-Cam in your cab facing your Passenger, it will serve to both protect you and your passenger from future "he said, she said" scenarios.

Additionally, include a clear and polite "You are on Camera" sign (like so; ), and I promise you'll see a startling improvement in the attitude of some of the more nasty passengers.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Chen :)

Eric Chia said...

Hi James,

Congrats on getting on board a new operator! 东家不打,打西家!All the best!

Unknown said...

Can we live life based on mutual respect and compassion for each other's responsibilities rather than who is the boss and who is paying the money. .

Anonymous said...

Hi James : I shared your empathy on the service line like me BUT as they saying goes ' Hao ren you hao bao'. God blessed.

greennn said...

Dear I want hire you in my Metro company .If you interesting so visit and contact me ..Metro Airport Taxi

Anonymous said...

keep going, its too stressful and expensive here to idle around

JonDoe said...

Hi if you are a taxi driver or you have alot of frens in the taxi business do tell me as i do have a way you can earn extra cash while driving. if interested do email me. said...

Hi James, I am looking for a long term driver who can fetch my gal to childcare and then myself to work in the morning. Kindly email me:

Anonymous said...

I fully subscribe to what you wrote. Well said and there is a fundamental mutual respect relationship in whatever interaction at all levels irrespective of social class. This is about upbringing and character including a complete reflection of one's family values.

chris said...

Best of luck James.

By the way I am really impressed with this blog!

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Harry Newman said...

Good luck with your new taxi job! very good blog,keep it up!

Unknown said...

You’ve got great experiences within your driving years. Driving a cab gives you the chance to meet different personalities, and it’s a challenge on how to deal with them without offending them. I also agree that a shift could be boring, especially when you’re stuck at a certain place without a passenger. Anyway, I wish you all the best with your new taxi operator. Moreover, I do hope you’ll be able to share more of your valuable experience in driving a cab. Keep safe!

Grady Mann @ St. Petersburg Yellow Taxi

Boh Tong aka Luke Tan said...

James do not work too hard esp at your age.

Unknown said...

hi, roughly how much can you earn per month from being a cabbie? and what is the taxi rental daily?

Anonymous said...

Hello Sam Hwang, I am William, took you cab last two days. It is an amazing experience. You share with me your Books. I am looking forward to contact with you regarding writing Book events. Please reply me to my email