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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

..sometimes costly when it backfires.........

This happened in Brisbane last Tuesday, for that matter, it can happen anywhere in the world. Storing his wife's S$64,000/- uninsured jewelleries in plastic bags to fool potential robbers has backfired for an Australian man. In preparations for moving house, he accidentally threw away all the 'rubbish' bags into the garbage bins. The jewelleries including bracelets, bangles and pure gold bars are as good as lost. The man has been frantically pleading with the town council to sift through the rubbish to find them but was told with thousands of tons of rubbish each week, there is little hope for its recovery. Most unfortunate indeed, but don't you think by trying to be too smart  sometimes, can be costly..........

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Greetings and my Best Wishes to all......

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my Muslim friends and followers SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI !!!

How's this, just one more new 'title'....

All of us know the titles of our Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong (PM), Senior Minister Mr. Goh Chok Tong (SM), Minister Mentor Mr. Lee Kuan Yew (MM) and a new addition or new replacement title of Emeritus Senior Minister for Mr. Goh Chok Tong (ESM), former title (SM) temporarily shelved. Now then, with the recent hard fought Presidential elections being over, we have Dr. Tony Tan, our officially elected new President (P) ahead by 0.34% votes (7,000 plus votes) more than runner-up Dr. Tan Cheng Bok, both candidates having garnered near equal numbers, each with slightly more than 700,000 plus votes, I would think, or don't you think it may be a good idea to declare Dr. Tan Cheng Bok as Vice President (VP) since both gave sincere assurances and promises to better the lives of Singaporeans as well as for Singapore here and abroad, then of course it will definitely be most beneficial for all of us to have (2) great minds working harmoniously together as (P) and (VP). Wow, would'nt it be just 'fantabulous', afterall, having another new title such as "VP" added to our already numerous well known titles is not going to make things sound anymore uncommon, is it?.......... really,........

Sunday, August 28, 2011

.....enjoyed your company and our chit-chats..........

It is not often that I ferry so many different nationals from foreign countries in one night. It happened again a few evenings ago when I first fetched a tourist from Myanmar at United Square taxi stand to Holiday Inn near Cuppage Plaza, from there I drove to Takashimaya taxi stand where I picked up a young lady from Indonesia going to Gleneagles Hospital to visit a sick family member.
After that, just cruising past the Thai Embassy along Orchard Road, a Phillipina lady hailed me and wanted to go to her condominium along Nathan Road and this trip was particularly slow due to very heavy traffic conjestion at Scotts Road.
From Nathan Road, I went straight to Great World City taxi stand along Kim Seng Road where I fetched a middleaged German woman with her young daughter going home to her condo at Club Street. As I was about to leave the condo, a couple from Belgium asked me to send them to Changi Airport T1 as they were flying off to Bali for a short holiday.
After sending the couple to T1, I drove to T2 taxi stand nearby and was lucky enough to pick up almost immediately (no taxi queue at this time), this lady from Hong Kong who wanted to go to Suisse Hotel, I remembered her because she had a slight cold and coughed a little and I offered her a Fisherman's 'citrus' sweet, a new packet I bought earlier which she gratefully accepted. At the same time she requested for me to lower the air conditioner as she was feeling a bit cold. She told me that she was only going to stay for one night and will be going home the next day.
As soon as she alighted at Suisse Hotel, 2 guys, one from Vietnam and the other from Thailand together with a young lady from Indonesia entered straightaway into my taxi. The lady who sat in the front passenger seat asked me to send them to Robertson Quay Hotel which I did.
After leaving them, I drove straight to Clarke Quay taxi stand nearby where I picked up this very interesting gentleman from Canada who wanted to go to the first condo after turning into Bayshore Road. He told me he is a "coffee" blogger and gave me his website address: http://www.map2cafe.com/ He told me about his travels to as many as 54 countries to do his coffee research. We had a very interesting chit-chat during the journey, yes, all about coffee.
Next, I remembered ferrying 3 passengers, a Malaysian and 2 Singaporeans, I forget from where, but I know I sent them to somewhere... I think maybe Rivervale in Sengkang. It was indeed a very interesting and enjoyable day at work for me, getting to meet and chat with all the  passengers from as many as 10 different countries. Right now, I am still trying to remember from where I picked up my last 3 passengers ........ I think.... maybe, I better have a cup of coffee first.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

watching entertaining parades everyday......

The world is a stage and we are all its players, how true!
Do you realise when you cross the road at traffic junctions and pedestian crossings, all eyes are on you from inside of their vehicles, including passengers and also those on board buses. You are the performers and we, the drivers and passengers are the audience, the critics and the admirers. I am very priviledged to be a regular participating audience watching parades (f.o.c) everyday whilst working.
Each time I stop at a road junction, I get to see a fashion parade of sorts, such as beauty queens, colourful attires on all shapes and sizes, an array of walking styles, show of fantastic colour hairdos, etc. And most delightful of all, the sight of unabashed individual home-grown amateur actors and actresses performing their conversations with their handphones at the same time displaying distinct hand, head and body gestures, I tell you, its truly a sight to behold almost at all different venues. These parades actually keep me refreshed and fully awake always as I have to drive continuously for hours at a stretch. A great entertainment incentive and value for work which I cannot ask for elsewhere.......

Friday, August 26, 2011

....back to the classroom.......

Every taxi driver need to attend a refresher course once every six years and mine, for the second time is due  again. This exercise is called the Taxi Driver's Vocational Licence (TDVL) Refresher Course and I am given five centres to enrol for the course. I have enrolled at the Bukit Batok Driving Centre Ltd located at Ave 5. The training fee amounts to $53.50 for a total of (11) hours duration to be completed in 2 days, this is compulsory. Furthermore, my TDVL expires on 30/9/2011, renewal fee is $40.00 and not only that, I need also to pass a Medical Examination which will cost me another $25.00. Letting you in on this bit of boring information means also a nett loss of income for me. This is inevitable, but what to do, looks like additional working hours coming my way. Aiyoh ! I nearly forgot, "What about my Sleep", I work at night and sleep in the day, so, with day one training starting on 2/9 from 10.30am to 3.00pm and day two on 3/9 from 8.00am to 3.00pm, my greatest Loss would be  "SLEEP" .........help.!!.....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

.....once more with 'nostalgia'..........

Day one, when I first started driving a cab, the radio station I tune in to, was channel 90.5FM and I still do. Brian Richmond, my favourite DJ, has been spinning golden oldies till today and still at it, only this time he has a partner who is none other than his son Mark who is as formidable. Together, they presently co-host this channel during the day and Tim Oh, whom I have followed when he first started has taken over the night shift has now become very versatile, and he is my second favourite. Without them accompanying me everyday, I think it would be just a dull and boring occupation cooped up inside my 'office'. For the past 2 weeks, especially from 16th August which was Elvis Presley's death anniversary, I totally enjoyed every Elvis Hit song that they spin daily, its just simply nostalgic as Elvis Presley is my idol and will forever be in my heart. I try to singalong to all his songs played whether aloud when I'm alone or silently inside of me, whilst I work. I would always turn up the radio real loud when we sing duets together when alone. .......you are right................. you are always on my mind.................

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An unforgettable encounter...........

About 7.00pm on Tuesday, I picked up this young and pretty English lady at the IKEA taxi stand in Alexandra Road. She had with her 2 boxes, a leather bag and another plastic bag of her purchases and wanted me to drive her to her condominium at Mt. Elizabeth Road.
We arrived at her destination and she told me to wait awhile because she had to leave the 2 boxes at the reception area and then continue down the road to another condominium just a few metres away. She asked if I could just wait a little while more, about 5 minutes at the next condo as she had to leave some of her belongings in her apartment after which continue on to Little India.
I was hesitant at first and told her that it was still peak hours (between 5pm and 8pm) and in the CBD area, I can collect a surcharge of $3.00 if I were to pick up the next passenger. She was such a pleasant lady, spoke softly and said she will pay me an extra $10 for my endeavour if I could send her to Buffalo Road and wait a further ten minutes and finally to Paragon.
Her offer was reasonable, she was a sweet and gentle persuader and I just could not refuse. During the trip, I asked if she was from India, oh no, wrong presumption, I was badly mistakened, she is English and hails from Bristol (England) and she has been working as a Purchaser for hotels in Singapore for the past 2 years. At Buffalo Road, she requested that we exchange our handphone numbers just in case and told me to park my cab at the taxi stand up the road and will look for me as soon as she is done. I trusted her and did exactly that and you know what, she was back in less than 10 minutes.
We had a bit of chit-chat, she told me she was going to Spain the same night to attend a good friend's wedding, and maybe stay a week there before returning, wow, sounds fantastic. I sent her to the Paragon, the fare came to $19.20 and she immediately paid me, including her extra $10.00 offer, totalling altogether $30.00 and to keep the change.
I thanked her, said goodbye and left. But as soon as I drove off, I realised in my haste that I had forgotten to offer my services to fetch this charming and pretty young lady to the airport. I told myself I was not being courteous as I continued on my way, well, at least I thought I did provide some fair service...........

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day in Day out.....

I drive approximately 240 kilometres everyday which comes to about 40 kilometres per hour, that's right. Nowadays I work only 6 hours a day with half an hour's break for food and refreshments. I leave my house at 4.45pm daily and stop driving around midnight, where you can find me relaxing over a cup of black coffee and working on my Iphone, or meet up with friends and other cabbies for some idle chit-chat till about 1.00am or so.
After which I will head towards my taxi company's pump base near Leng Kee Road to fill up my tank and thereafter go look for something to eat before going home which is usually between 2.30am to 3.00am.
At home I will write, check on my emails, go to facebook or surf the net till 7.00am, that's when my Straits Times and New Paper will arrive and after I've gone through both papers I will then 'hit the sack', usually before 9.00am.
This daily routine has become a habit. Time has indeed passed us by so quickly and before we know it, we are into the last quarter of 2011. Many events have come and gone as you and I are aware of, New Year's, festivals, G.Elections, birthdays, parades, etc., and more coming our way just as fast.
Sometimes I wish, how nice it would be to possess a 'Life Speedometer'.........

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the answer is "Yes".......

"Miss, going home after work?" it was about 10.30pm, "Yes". "You must have waited for quite sometime?" the passenger queue was very long, "Yes". "Do you always work this late?" "Yes". "I mean everyday?" "Yes". "By the time you reach home it would probably be around 11.00pm" "Yes". "Oh, this is no good, I think there is an accident up ahead thats why traffic is so heavy and moving so slowly, should we divert?". "Yes". "We better exit by Eng Neo Avenue and continue along Bukit Timah Road is it okay?" "Yes". This passenger is not anxious nor agitated at all, she appears to be unfazed and remained 'cool'. Exceptional, I thought, I had to ask her once more. "Miss, I think you must be very tired because you don't talk so much" "Yes". Oh oh, better keep my trap shut and just drive. We reached her destination not long after. "Your fare is $12.10, just give me $12.00 will do and would you need a receipt?" 'Yes". "Okay, here you are, thank you and goodnight". "Yes" she smiled. Hhhh???? What a great conversationalist, the "Yes" lady, and last night, throughout the rest of my shift, I kept thinking I should have left her alone instead of being such an 'irritant', at the same time I thought, perhaps, I could be the one trying to relax by making small talk.....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"catch me if you can....."

Fare CHEATS are getting bolder and on the rise this year. Each time I pick up young teenagers (most common group types) in twos and threes, I become very wary. I would scrutinise and engage them in chit chats as well as listen in on their conversations and trust my instincts through their behaviour patterns after having encountered five bad experiences with them in the past.
It is very difficult and impossible to recover our losses from them. The Public Transport Council Act, though quite strict with punishments meted out previously, have not really deterred these 'dodgers'. First timers are fined $1000 and repeat offenders $2000 including 6 months behind bars.
I remembered in 2005, there was this serial cheat who dodged fares from at least 18 cabbies, was finally caught and sentenced to 3 years in jail. Fare cheats are usually young 'thrill seekers' similar to those petty thieves and snatchers with their 'catch me if you can' mentalities.
Well, how I wish we can be allowed to install cctv gadgets in our cabs, it could possibly be an effective deterrent I think.........

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy making friends from around the world.......

I simply love driving my cab everywhere in Singapore. Everyday I get to meet passengers from all walks of life, locals, PRs, expats, foreign workers which also include 'the illegal ones' and most of all tourists from all over the world.
Last night, I had the opportunity to fetch an Expat Scottish couple from Orchard Hotel to a condominium along Grange road. They have been living here for about a year and were both very happy and wishing to stay on for a much longer time. They both love the tropical weather and did not mind the humidity at all and felt very comfortable moving around in casuals. The gentleman mentioned about having to put on tie and coat everyday back home which I gathered he does not like so much. All of us were happily enjoying our chit-chats throughout the short journey. The fare was only $3.40 but the ever smiling lady insisted that I take $6.00 saying its Singapore's birthday today. We wished each other well and I was on the road again.
It was entirely a different situation with my next passengers, a middle-aged Korean couple with their young teenage daughter who flagged my cab. You see, the three of them Korean tourists could hardly speak English. I used everyday 'hand' language to ask for any name cards or papers they may have and luckily, the wife reached into her handbag and gave me a sort of letter which had small printed words Regent Hotel in it. I asked aloud "Regent Hotel?" and the man, looking a bit sheepish and bewildered shook his head very slightly which I presumed must be it and drove them straight to the Regent Hotel at Cuscaden Road. I could tell they were very grateful to be back at their hotel and again I had to use my hand language to indicate the $5.oo fare which the man readily handed to me and also gave me an appreciative smile. I felt very good to be able to assist them as I started on the road once again.......  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How do you like dat !!!

I am not very sure, could be a first.
Last night, eve of our National Day, I ferried a passenger, a pretty thirtyish looking chinese young lady from Clarke Quay to Ponggol Central, time was around 11.45pm. On arrival at her destination I was asked in a very polite and pleading manner if I could assist her by 'escorting' her to her 10th floor flat. Taken aback, I asked if she had too much to drink or maybe not feeling well or fearful of predators, she said not really and at the same time pointing to me at some young foreign workers loitering near the lift landing. I hesitated for a moment, took another quick look at her and finally acceded to her request. I looked around for a parking lot but there were none nearby, I then decided to leave my hazard lights on and parked at the available vacant 'handicapped' lot. After all, to help a 'damsel in distress' should be quite okay. I locked my vehicle (hazard lights still on) and proceeded to escort my passenger up to her flat. It only took less than 5 minutes, She thanked me saying "Uncle, you are the best!" and offered to tip me five dollars which I refused to accept. Wishing her well, I quickly rushed back to my taxi, took a short break whilst lighting up. After that, I continued plying my trade. Hmmm, provide 'escorting' services? Not a bad idea I thought but then what about licensing and advertising costs and all that jazz. No lah, don't lah, treat it as a good service provided for those truly in need. In that same moment, memories of yesteryears came flooding back like when I was a young man in those days, it was a 'must' to escort girlfriends home, it felt good and I was proud.........
Wishing you all "A Happy National Day" Enjoy and God Bless!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Oh No, not ag....!!!."

Being a Night shift driver I have to wash and clean up the taxi everyday before handing over to my Relief driver. For me, its usually around 4am. Sometimes, I get lucky when heavy rain falls, I am relieved of the chore after a tiring shift. I need only to clean and dust the four pieces of floor mats, that's it. Then just watch my taxi get a natural 'heavenly' bath. Believe me, it has always been a big thrill just watching the show. Last night, my last passenger, a young lady, flagged me near Lavender Foodcourt and she wanted to go to Ang Moh Kio Avenue 4. As soon as she sat down, even before shutting the door, horrors of horrors, she started to puke. Fortunately for me, just outside my cab - 'heng-ah'. When she finished, I straightaway gave her an NTUC plastic bag which I always keep handy, at least 3 pieces in the glove box (lessons learnt from past experiences). Asked her if she was alright and will she puke again she answered "Don't worry, I will not puke inside your taxi". I thanked her and gave her another bag to hang on just in case. I immediately sped off. On the way, along the CTE... "OMG" she held the bag to her mouth and puked twice more,  Yes, luckily, inside the bag.
During the whole journey, I felt very apprehensive and dreaded the worst. Finally we reached her destination, she paid her fare, thanked me and left. Safe at last, "Phew" what a huge relief, just then I thought I had to sweat. I think I better not recall what I had to go through the last time a passenger actually did 'it'.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

how's the going ?.....

"How's your luck today?"
"Ah, no good lah, lost few hundred dollar.. when win always a little bit but when lose, plenty plenty. Cannot win money in casino one lah!"
"Then, why you always come?"
"Aiyah, maybe one day got luck can hit Jackpot what."
This is a typical answer I get with my usual way of greeting passengers, men and women, young or old at both casinos, the MBS and RWS, and most times I get negative results but of course there are the occasional elated winners with tales of good luck and many many losers with big 'IFs'. Winners will show you a bit of extra tips like 'keep the change', and losers, what do you think? Well, picking up commuters at these two joints gives me an additional surcharge of $3 in earnings but I don't normally queue at these places unless I happen to be in those vicinities. Conversations with these passengers are always very interesting, continuous with lots of sighs, exclamations of big losses and many stories of missed 'Big' jackpots couple with 'Top Tips' and 'Winning Systems' and what have you. You can see how excited and spontaneous when they chat and we really enjoy much laughter throughout the journey. I look forward to these kind of trips, they make my day...........

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

indecisions and short sentences......

"Which way would you like me to go, by the PIE or the CTE?"
My passenger replies, "Oh, any way will be fine, up to you."
"OK, thank you." I straightaway headed towards the CTE and as soon as we are on the CTE, my passenger blurts out "You should have taken the PIE, blah blah blah....." Here comes the 'staccato' type short and crisp, "Uncle, Seng Kang", "go straight", "wait ah" shows me a piece of paper, and those commando type "Go PIE BKE KJE Choa Chu Kang Crescent" etc and so on.
These are my everyday, not uncommon short 'chit chats' some courteous, some rude, arrogant and even unreasonable. But, really to be honest, most passengers are quiet, pleasant and good paymasters. My usual 'four' words per trip are Hello, Okay, Thank You and Goodbye. I usually try to make conversations by starting with, After work? Going home? How's your day? Shopping? Party? it all depends on locations. Sometimes I get good and kind replies like Yah, Yes, OK lah, haha or no sound at all, you know what I mean. Anyway, life goes on and I keep on learning.......