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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pleasant and Wonderful Working Day.

I was very busy last night ferrying passengers mostly on long trips. The fares that I collected ranged between $11 to $23 except an odd one at $4.80 and also over the shortest trip. It was not a bad day's taking for me, above average.

All my passengers throughout the night did not even mention a word nor commented about the taximeter fare increases. They were very pleasant except for the one that paid the least fare. There were three of them, two women and a man, in their sixties I presumed. One of the women hinted just before they alighted in Hokkien "Taxi buay sai chay" meaning "Taxi cannot sit". These four words spoken in Hokkien literally meant that taxis can no longer be used. I kept quiet because the fare she paid might have been sixty cents more than usual. Apart from this very slight remark, all went well with no other dissatisfactions shown.

Tonight is going to be another hectic workday for me, being the Eve of the last day of year 2011.

To Everyone, Friends, Followers and Viewers of my Blogspot, I wish you all "A Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year 2012!".

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Taximeter Fares.

Today Premier Taxis, all Silver Cabs will be on the roads with their taximeters fully adjusted to the new fare structures similar to Comfort Delgo and SMRT present fares.  All Taxi Companies have raised their fares except for Prime Taxi who are still awaiting their Taxi Drivers' discussions and opinions before deciding on making any changes.

Today, I will be looking forward to experience passengers awareness and comments for my new taximeter fares. I feel that the impact of the Fare Hikes have subsided somewhat and business have continued to be like what it was before. Strangely enough though, for the past two weeks, I did have some queries and gripes about the increases but they number less than ten questions or so and that too, from rather mild statements of acceptances and feelings about being comfortable or not when paying their revised fares.

This is the last Friday and Saturday of year 2011 and I am excited and rearing to go. Its going to be hard work and I expect non-stop ferrying of passengers as well as a long awaited year end bonus.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bright and Busy Days Ahead.

Three more days to go and it will be 2012, 'Dragons' are already swarming the Chinatown area even before the Chinese Lunar New Year arrives.

Last couple of weeks and the coming January month, this particular period of the end and the beginning of old and new years is packed with endless human activities imaginable, everyday and everywhere. Taxis during this time are enjoying full usage and very much in demand, so much so, complaints about the recent fare increases are hardly heard nor discussed. Yes, I have not engaged in talks about the recent Fare Hikes lately and it looks like it has already died down, which is good.

Full steam ahead for us Taxi Drivers and it is truly going to be a Happy New Year 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Taxi Drivers Need More Protection.

The Year of the Dragon is just around the corner and so, what new adventures do you think the Dragon will have in store for us in 2012? Hopefully not a repetition of continuous rainfall, floodings, breakdowns, Violent Attacks on Taxi Drivers, bombings, senseless killings of innocents and etc like yesteryear. As for Fare Hikes, I can safely say that it will take another four or five years before something 'new' comes up again.

On Christmas Eve, a 47 year old Taxi Driver was bashed on the head with a wine bottle by one of two passengers when they claimed that the Taxi Driver took a longer route. This violent behaviour is uncalled for, anyway, police investigations are still ongoing.

In another recent case, on Dec. 16, a Taxi was stolen right in front of a crowded coffee shop at Lorong 29 in Geylang. The thief managed to jump into the taxi and drive off in it when the woman Taxi Driver decided to stop for a few minutes to have a cup of coffee. She left her taxi with the engine still running and was hardly 10m away, all this while, her eyes were on her cab but when she was paying for her drink and not looking, her taxi disappeared. Till today, her taxi has still not been found.

The Authorities should mete out tougher punishments against Violent Taxi bullies to safeguard the livehoods of Taxi Drivers. There are many recent attacks on Taxi Drivers, with many more unreported ones, but these Violent Taxi Attacks and Abuses must not be taken lightly. I can imagine Taxi Drivers taking matters into their own hands by equiping themselves with unlikely 'tools' in future for self-protection and may even 'retaliate' when provoked.
These are serious thoughts.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Season's Contagious Breakdowns.

The night before Christmas eve, my taxi's air-conditioner broke down, a gas leakage as it began blowing hot air instead. Had to send the taxi to the workshop to get it fixed quickly and as soon as possible the next day. It took four and the half hours to repair the leak as well as to refill gas. As agreed, my Relief Driver had the unenvious task to see to the repairs and luckily, Saturday morning the workshop was opened for half a day and so, his entire shift was burnt, but, he did not have to pay his shift rental and fuel charges incurred as this was to be totally borne by me.

As the next and night shift operator, I had to drive long and hard to recover costs and loss of earnings, so, after the end of a very tiring workday, I had already driven nearly 400 kilometres, to be exact, 387 km, able to pay the full day's rental, cost of fuel and still managed to earn a nett income of $50.00. But unfortunately, after I had finished work and was returning home, I discovered that my cab's speedometer had stopped functioning. Again another breakdown headache.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day were both public holidays and the motor workshop was closed for the weekend and so, no repairs could be be done till Tuesday. My Relief Driver and I had no choice but to just drive without the use of the speedometer for the next two days. The taximeter was in good order and that was very important but the speedometer kept emitting a 'beep-beep' sound off and on which was most irritating whilst we worked.

The two days have passed by quickly and this morning, my Relief Driver have to drive the taxi to the workshop to get the speedometer repaired, hopefully it will not take too long or else I will have to bear the full cost of rental and fuel once more, not to mention a repeat of another hard day's work.

This is the first time in all my years as a Taxi Driver that such break downs occurred which have made this Christmas season most unfruitful for me. Somehow, I feel as though the recent MRT train breakdowns could have been contagious. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Lift for Taximeter.

Today is Christmas day and yet I have to go to my Taxi company's workshop at 9.30pm to get my taximeter adjusted to the new fares which were recently announced and will take effect on 30th December. This is also a scheduled compulsory exercise and may take more than an hour for upgrading, adjustments and testings.

So, for the time being, I will continue to ply my trade till 9pm and with my Christmas spirits on a high, I sing to you,

"I Wish You A Merry Christmas, I Wish You A Merry Christmas, I Wish You A MERRY CHRISTMAS And A HAPPY NEW YEAR!"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Wonder Of Christmas.

Its this time of year once again when Taxi Drivers collect their bonuses. Unlike workers in all other areas of employment, Taxi Drivers have to earn their bonuses through hard work and on such a joyous occasion. They will only be rewarded according to how much work they can perform, therefore, longer working hours mean bigger incomes and bonuses. No one will take any leave this day, instead they will go all out to try to earn as much as they can because this opportunity can only happen on Christmas eve.

To all my friends, my faithful followers and viewers, I would like to wish each and every one of you

"A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

"He asked for it what!"

Hail a Comfort or a SMRT taxi and you know their metered fare have already increased accordingly, but each time, whenever I ask my passengers if they had felt any such increase in their fares riding these cabs, they would simply say "Its about the same, not much difference leh".
There are one or two passengers who would ask me why I had to increase the taxi fares and when I tell them its not my doing, its the Taxi company that decides and makes the decision, they just shrugged their heads and say, "Ahh no lah, you people are the ones who put pressure on your Companies to demand for an increase all the time, you think we are fools ah".
This was the particular passenger whom I was unfortunate to have fetched yesterday evening from Sim's Drive and he asked to go to Tampines Street 34. I thought he was trying to be funny or maybe try to irritate me so as to get me involved in having a stupid argument with him or simply just to annoy me, but, unfortunately for him, I was quite prepared for his kind of nonsense from the way he behaved and the manner and style in which he made that remark and so, I replied "Of course what, you mean to tell me you don't expect any bonus from your Boss even when his Company is doing very well and at the end of the year, expect no bonus nor even a small salary increase from his Company meh? and if there is none, don't tell me you just sit and keep quiet and don't even ask???". to which he became an instant 'deaf-mute' and remain quiet throughout the journey.
This guy tried to be funny by putting the blame on me for the Fare Hikes, but he happened to bark up the wrong cabbie who would purposely hit back.
Sometimes I get 'tickled' when I take them on. You see, its usually these irritating minority group of passengers who hardly use taxis, maybe only once in a while who grumbles most and likes to make unreasonable and baseless remarks that can rile you. I would normally try not to engage in any arguments or even have casual conversations with these type of commuters by keeping 'mum' or just simply say "Ya" to anything he or she says.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Brings Peace and Goodwill to All Singaporeans.

At last Fare Hikes apply to all taxis on January 3rd 2012, except for the Prime fleet who have yet to make a decision. Anyway, I have been making private surveys from my passengers after a week of adjusted fares if they have previously been on board Comfort Taxis and from results that I have gathered, I conclude that the Fare Hikes are not ridiculous nor causing great alarms and I feel that commuters are not likely to make any huge complaints, and rides on all taxis will be accepted quietly and once again back to normalcy.
Year 2012 will usher in a new kind of taxi service, this time on "water". There will only be two routes, one starting from Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel (near Zouk) to Marina Barrage and the other from Rivergate, start near Riverview Hotel ending at the Barrage. There will be about 13 stops on both routes with intervals of between 10 to 15 minutes and fares will most likely be from $3.00 to $4.00 at most. This will be an interesting and exciting form of transportation in the near future.
Presently there are 2 other waterway services but they are mainly for sight seeing trips for tourists being provided by Singapore River Cruise and the Duck and Hippo companies.
Second exciting news is about having another new radio station, the FM92.0 which will only cater to Women and Family to start off late next year. This new one will bring all together a total of 19 Radio Stations in Singapore. These two new implementations are Christmas Gifts for citizens of Singapore. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cold and Rainy Days.

Its raining again, yes this time of the year is always much cooler and here are some of the common requests that I get from passengers, "Uncle, can bring down the air-con?" ("Bring down?"), "Uncle, brrrrrr, very cold, can please close or not?", "Uncle, I am not feeling well, don't mind put smaller can?, thank you", "Wah, your taxi so cold cannot tahan", "Uncle, can open window or not, too cold". These are a few 'cute' and very Singaporean style of requests for me to lower the air-con thermo or they say "Please switch off air-con, too cold" abrupt and straight to the point.
In all my years as a cabbie, I have yet to hear from tourists a call to lower my taxi air-con. It is quite unusual but I think, they (tourists) are not sure if it is polite or not and therefore hesitate and restrain from making such requests. But there are times, through 'body language' I can more or less tell if they are feeling a bit cold and I would just say "Is my air-con too cold?", and the responses I get are always "Yes, thank you".
During very heavy rainy days, the only setback and irritation that annoys me, are from those passengers (not many, but there a few) who in their hurry to board my cab, would just simply put their wet umbrellas on the seat without any second thoughts. There are many times I try to avoid stopping for passengers with umbrellas over their heads on rainy days but till today, I would still reluctantly stop and fetch them. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Tidings.

Christmas is just around the corner, in fact, exactly one week from now. This year's Christmas light-up along the famous Orchard Road strip is not continuous enough I think, as it ends abruptly near Dhoby Ghaut instead of all the way right up to Suntec City like in previous years, and therefore the lightings and decorations have made me feel as though the works are not fully completed yet.
This popular stretch of road is always first to bring in Christmas cheers, the kind of atmosphere which starts the celebration mood going, bringing in huge crowds of visitors, both local and foreign, with thousands of shoppers flooding shopping centres displaying big holiday discounts and fantastic promotions of all kinds of goodies that you can think of.
This year's colour theme of glittering blue, white and silver looks great, very lively and refreshing. I enjoy and especially love driving around this area during the night, soaking in the beautiful decorations, display of so many christmas trees, colourful lightings, people activities such as carollers, buskers performances and I am also at the same time quite oblivious to all the chaotic traffic jams that I get stucked in.
The recent taxi fare hikes have not really dampened the Christmas festive mood as evidenced by the usual long queues of commuters, and the unpopular fare hike issues have also suddenly been overshadowed by the latest continuous MRT train breakdowns, causing huge disruptions and chaos during the past few days.
Yes, this Christmas has indeed brought in an unexpected 'Tidings of the Third Kind'.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eavesdropping.

I must admit, Taxi Drivers are truly unavoidable legal eavesdroppers. When my passengers start to quarrel among themselves, I have totally no control and no choice whatsoever but to remain quiet, with a listening ear and become a third party witness to the many different types of quarrels imaginable over the years. Quarrels that happen in my cab are usually between husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, lovers and also among siblings. Most quarrels are the subdued types, it starts with short aggressive remarks with harsh words, retorts, blurted out in stern but sober tones, sometimes they may sound as though they were whispering yet loud enough, very audible over very small petty issues.
In some cases, angry and ugly arguments over infidelity are spewed out unashamedly, exposing the actions of the guilty party concerned, exactly like happenings in True Life stories that we might have read or have come across in our lives before, and they can be quite interesting listening to the facts and details of infidelities.
As a cab driver, I have always maintained a 'mind your own business' attitude, but sometimes when I feel things are getting a bit out of hand, I would gently ask them if I should make a left or right turn or if I should take this or that road which usually puts a sudden halt to their heated arguments and it does help to cool down the heat somewhat.
Quarrels between boyfriends, girlfriends and lovers are slightly different. They would start by speaking angry words and then stop, a short while later, a few more unhappy words and then silence. I can sometimes sense the kind of miserable feelings the couples maybe going through with a few spoken words off and on followed by total silence till they reach their destinations.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

'OT' For Taxi Drivers.

When train services are disrupted like what happened last Thursday, taxis become the most sought after alternative public transport service. When this sudden need for them occurs at the same time, great difficulties will be experienced by the general public in trying to secure its services. There will be long queues of anxious commuters everywhere, all waiting to catch a cab at the same time, and this inevitably give rise to anger and frustrations when vacant taxis don't seem to exist and the rest are either fully occupied or showing 'On Call' signs. Its times like this when taxi drivers work overtime to earn extra income by ferrying commuters non-stop. This type of unforeseen disruptions are extremely rare.
Of course, we Taxi Drivers regret such train breakdowns and disruptions which can be chaotic and cause great difficulties and hardship to commuters but it has also ironically benefited us in terms of an increase in our income through a greater demand for taxis.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Twice Into Massive Traffic Jams.

After my passenger alighted at Waterloo Street at 9.00pm last night, I proceeded along Stamford Road keeping to my left whilst following behind a bus. And not very far from the National Museum, traffic in front of me was hardly moving forward. I tried desperately to filter out of my lane but could not as all other vehicles on my right were at a standstill. For a moment, I thought a very serious accident must have occurred ahead of me to cause such a jam. Slow and steadily, I inched forward, little by little and half an hour later, I could tell I was near the junction of Stamford Road and Fort Canning Road, but there were no signs to indicate that there had been any serious accidents at all. I finally managed to squeeze out through an opening on my right and lucky for me there was a gap at the junction ahead which allowed me to turn left into Fort Canning Road. Being inquisitive, I turned my vehicle to the right and drove straight into the YMCA covered carpark. Parked at a parking lot, I then took a lift to the coffee house on the 3rd level, ordered a cup of coffee and sat by the window overlooking Stamford Road to find that the whole area was clogged up with stationary buses and other vehicles. I asked the Chef who was standing near me if he knew what was going on and he told me that the MRT trains had broken down at Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station.
It was already 10.15pm when I decided to leave after having my coffee and finished eating an apple pie. I exited through Fort Canning Road and made my way towards Clarke Quay to find a very, very long passenger queue at the Liang Court taxi stand. A young Malay lady boarded my taxi and asked to go to Hougang Street 51, saying she had been waiting for a taxi for the past 30 minutes already. I told her about the heavy traffic jams nearby as I drove towards the CTE heading for Hougang.
As soon as I drove into the CTE, I found myself engulfed again in a massive traffic jam. all the way from near Cuppage Plaza up to Ang Mo Kio Avenue One which eventually took me exactly one hour to reach Hougang Street 51.
Throughout the whole journey, my lady passenger sat quietly, calmly playing some computer game on her mobile phone and was not at all perturbed by the crawling traffic all around us. I was very relieved when we finally reached her destination. My legs ached and I was truly "shagged". 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Big "Hoo-Ha" Over Fare Hikes.

It is not a ridiculous taxi fare increase as far as regular commuters are concern, and I don't see any drastic change in taxi ridership patterns across the island. From some direct accounts of on the spot surveys carried out yesterday in respect of the fare hikes from commuters, results have shown that the increases are very minimal and hardly felt. Anyhow, it is still too early to gauge the impact of the hikes but Comfort Taxis having the largest taxi fleet on the road is good enough testing ground to finding out the general responses from commuters even from the very first day of its effectiveness, and from what we hear over live interviews on television, the newspapers and news online, I guess its not going to be a long drawn subject of unhappiness from the general public but the usual waiting time and the unending complaints will definitely continue to persist.
People use taxis when they need them whether there is any increase or not. As it is, the cost of living and the high diesel price have made it most difficult to earn a living. Taxi drivers work very long hours, as much as 12 to 13 hours a day and its no joke, with no CPF contributions, no annual leaves and worst of all, not even allowed to fall sick at all, the life of a Taxi Driver is indeed tough. Therefore, a tiny increase in taxi fares to help taxi drivers maintain a decent livelihood, have a better income opportunity, should not make it sound like a 'life and death' issue, cause great unhappiness or even having thoughts of boycotting, afterall, it has been 5 years since the last fare hike exercise in 2007.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Favourite Fish Soup Stall Calling It A Day.

I woke up rather late yesterday afternoon after feeling exceptionally tired the previous night. It was already 5.15pm, made a hot cup of coffee black and ate three pieces of McVitie's Digestives biscuits while going through my mails. Then, I felt like, and started writing about the 'mobile' passenger I had ferried earlier. When I finished and put up my post, I felt a bit hungry again and was thinking what to have for 'lunch' later, meanwhile I logged on to my facebook to read some postings and made some comments and then I thought it would be nice to go to Whampoa Food Centre and eat my favourite steam-boat fish soup dish, a sudden craving, and before anything else could happen, I was on the way to Whampoa.
Whilst enjoying my food, I was told by the waiter who served me that in about 3 months time, this steam boat stall would be closing down. I was surprised and started asking questions. It seems the owner had sold his stall for a tidy sum and decided to call it a day after having done this business for such a long time and since a very good offer to buy his stall came along, it was done. Last night his takings were a few thousand dollars by the time I had finished eating and left. I felt sad about its closure in the very near future.
The fish soup steam boat dish was simply delicious and I patronise this stall at least 3 times a week. I am going to miss my usual for sure and it won't be the same anymore when there is a takeover. Well, looks like I have to hunt and search for another good fish soup joint soon, won't be the same though, but for the time being I better start thinking about earning some bucks to cover my rental as its getting......., waah! 9.30pm already!
Better start working now.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Passenger Was A "Handphone'.

After sending a passenger to Bangkit Road at 8.45pm last night, I decided to park my cab at the multi-carpark beside the Kim San Leng Coffee Shop to have my 'lunch'. As I was parking my cab, I heard a faint ringing sound, like from a mobile ring tone, coming from behind my seat. I looked around and found an old model Nokia handphone, wedged in between the back seat partition and still ringing. I answered the call and this guy said he was my passenger whom I fetched to Ponggol Central about an hour ago and had left his mobile in my cab. I could still remember him and remarked that he was very lucky in that the next passenger that boarded my cab sat in the front seat so he was not aware of a misplaced mobile handphone or else it would or could have been 'lost'. He said he did not realise that he had lost his mobile till now, I told him where I was, and that I was going to have a bite first and after I had finished, I would drive to meet him at the same place where he got off from my cab and return his mobile.
He was relieved and happy because he needed to call his boss urgently on his private line and his phone number is stored in his mobile. He was at a loss as he did not keep a copy of his boss's mobile phone number anywhere else and had no record of it at all. He told me to switch on my taxi meter and he would pay me the metered fare when we met up as soon as possible.
After having done with my food, I fetched my 'handphone passenger' and headed towards Ponggol Central. When I arrived, the owner of the handphone was already at the agreed location waiting for me. I showed him the metered fare, it cost him $15.40 which he happily paid me. He apologised for causing me the inconvenience but I told him it was alright, my work was not interrupted at all as his handphone was as good as my 'passenger'. We both laughed, wished each other goodnight as I drove off to continue my work.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sharing Between Friends And Strangers.

Rain or Shine, Friday has always been my favourite working day. I had a very busy and tiring but fruitful workday with nearly all trips going long distance on the busy highways. I think the lowest fare I collected was $12.00 and the highest was $25.00 But most importantly I had very friendly passengers, local as well as a number of Permanent Residents with only one local traveller, the lady lawyer returning from Kuala Lumpur whom I fetched from Terminal 2, going to her Marine Parade Road home. She was the one who paid me the $12.00 fare. She was in Kuala Lumpur for only one night, a trip she relishes as she enjoys getting away from her regular workplace once in a while and feels refreshed each time from such breaks.
The one that paid me $25.00 was the only Tourist passenger, a 41 year old gentleman carrying a medium size travelling sling-bag, whom I picked up at 6.00pm in the city area and he wanted to go to the airport at Terminal 2. When I asked him what time was his flight, he told me at 4.00am, I was quickly startled and began talking and asking questions with a bit of hand gestures, but each time he looked surprised and bewildered, somewhat lost. I immediately realised he could only speak a little bit of English, and so throughout the journey, we both used hand gestures, spoke only simple English words and amazingly, we managed to understand each other quite well. He is a Kazak, and comes from Kazakhstan. He is here to visit his wife who is also a Kazak and is working in their country's embassy in Singapore. He told me about his country having four seasons, says Singapore is beautiful, trees everywhere and also mentioned a bit about his father, mother and family. Our conversation to get to know and learn more about each other was limited due to time and language constraint and before long we were already at the airport. It was great trying to understand each other and we both thoroughly enjoyed our handicapped conversation while it lasted. He shook hands with me, said goodbye, and all this while he had on a smiley face which I cannot forget.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Diverse Personalities Of Commuters.

There are about 5 different types of passengers who make use of taxis, I shall try to categorise them into particular groupings.

(a) The die hard taxi users, this group of commuters will not use any other types of public transport other than taxis irregardless of any fare hikes.
(b) The 50-50 users, very calculative group, they will travel halfway by buses and trains, and the rest of the way by taxis, always ready with correct fares.
(c) The occasional or 'once in a blue moon' type of passenger will only use the taxi as a last resort, very fussy, unappreciative, and most likely the ones that make the most complaints and loves grumbling.
(d) The expats and permanent residents group, are usually direct in their requests, knows local rules and regulations well and what they can expect of the services.
(e) The tourist commuters, are usually very polite, takes everything in their stride for they do not know and will accept whatever and wherever, very appreciative and likes to tip. A very excited, friendly and cheerful lot.

I started driving a taxi in October 1997 and my experiences with passengers, up till today, after all these years, have given me some sort of ability to summarise and categorise the above interesting behavioural patterns of certain groups of commuters. Of course there are also the inimitable stingy, unreasonable, quarrelsome, arrogant type of passengers, a minority group though, but overall and generally, most commuters are generous and truly very pleasant individuals.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Is A Time For Giving And Receiving.

Christmas is just round the corner and we should all be rejoicing and getting ready once again for another year ending with many happy surprises of goodies to come such as, the main Christmas celebrations in churches and everywhere for christians as well as non-christians from all over the world, giving and receiving gifts for families, friends young and old and happy re-unions for everyone, annual holidays, annual company dinners, great annual sales, great parties and entertainments, annual salary increases and bonuses and lots more.
The biggest 'Hoo-Ha' of discontentment this year seems to be coming from taxi commuters with yesterday's sudden announcement of taxi fare hikes and surcharges to be effective this coming monday by the owners of Singapore's largest taxi fleet. This 'hot' topic is presently the 'Talk of the Town' from all walks of life.
Past experiences have shown us that in any sort of price increase issues, comes firstly, resentments, disapprovals, complaints all round but, by the end of the day, all issues will eventually quieten down and then  gradually be accepted as the days go by and will soon be forgotten while life goes on. This has been the norm for us Singaporeans, if you like, just try recalling the recent 'outcries' in the General Elections, price increases in coffee and food episodes. But come this Christmas and it will bring forth Harmony, Joy, Well Wishes and all 'ill' feelings, grudges will soon disappear and be forgotten.
As for me, in this unpredictable and ever changing world that we live in, I feel happy to take this opportunity to Wish You, One and All  "A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!". Cheers !

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Paiseh, Paiseh Uncle"

After dropping my passenger at the entrance of RWS casino around 11.00pm last night, I headed towards the very long queue of commuters lining up at the taxi stand with only about three other taxis in front of me and none at all at the taxi stand. Straightaway this young lady, first in the queue, boarded my cab and told me to go to Sophia Road. And as soon as I drove away from the taxi stand, she quickly uttered in mandarin that she was going to puke and asked if I had a plastic bag.
Hearing the word 'puke' in mandarin, I immediately reached out under my seat, got hold of a plastic bag and quickly handed it to her. A few seconds slower and I would have 'puke' splashed all over inside my cab. She had half her head inside the plastic bag and started 'puking' instantly with coughing and 'gargling' sounds at the same time. After a while, when she felt a bit composed, she started thanking me three to four times, saying "paiseh, paiseh uncle, sorry uncle, for giving you problem".
She told me she felt much better and that it was the second time she 'puked'. I spoke in mandarin saying she must have had one too many at the same time asking her if she spoke English. She said "Yes, 'paiseh, paiseh uncle' so sorry for the inconvenience, first time attending my company's annual dinner (Citi Bank) and my colleagues kept giving me mixed liquor drinks which I find hard to refuse as I had only recently joined the company. I drank altogether about ten glasses and it was okay then. I lined up at the taxi stand, waited for nearly half an hour and nearly 'puke' at the queue, but managed very uncomfortably to control and held on till your taxi came, 'paiseh, paiseh uncle', thank you uncle, thank you".
I said "Its good you that you are feeling much better now, don't worry, don't mention, its no problem for me, but when you get home, have a hot cup of coffee or milo before you go to bed. By the way, from your accent, you don't sound local, where do you come from?" She replied, "I come from China, studied here for 3 years, after graduation, started working and am now bonded for 3 years with this bank". Furthermore, she added "Lucky for me that you arrived and I did not puke at the taxi stand otherwise I would have lost face as it would have been very ugly and embarrassing in front of the many staff of the company also waiting at the taxi stand".
Her fare for the trip was $10.40, she paid me the money as she alighted and kept saying 'paiseh, paiseh uncle', 'sorry uncle', thank you, thank you and before I could even say anything, she was gone, disappeared into the building.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Solicited.

Travelling along Boon Lay Way after exiting from Toh Guan Road and heading towards Clementi, just past Chevron building, I was flagged down by a young Chinese lady standing by the side of the road at about 11.30pm last night. She opened my front passenger door, sat in but did not shut the door and spoke in Mandarin. She asked me quickly if I could just spare her a minute and said I must be quite tired and that she could help me relax a bit by providing me with a good massage which I will surely appreciate. I was taken aback, momentarily surprised, she looked to be in her early thirties, well dressed and pretty enough. I told her no, I was not tired and I don't need a massage thank you, to which she said in a pleading manner that she needed some monetary help and would even sleep with me and also provide other extra sexual favours. She told me she was not a foreigner and I believed she was not through her mandarin accent. I asked if she spoke English, "Yes, a little" she said. "Miss, I don't have much money and I need to carry on working for now so if you please excuse me, I have to work". She said "Sorry, sorry trouble you" smiled, got out and shut the door. I looked at her walking away as I drove off and it suddenly dawned on me that she must have really needed some money very urgently to even offer and sell herself like that. Then again I thought, she could also be a smart 'hooker' with good marketing skills, very presentable and yet looked to be in a sorry plight.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Picky Passenger.

An elderly woman boarded my taxi at Resorts World taxi stand just before 8.00pm last night. She wanted to go home to her condominium apartment situated at the former Yeo Hiap Seng factory site along Dunearn Road. As soon as I began driving away from the taxi stand, she asked me what the $1.00 shown on the left hand side of my taxi meter was for. I told her that it was for the peak hour surcharge which is between the hours from 5.00pm to 8.00pm, at the same time pointing to her the exact time shown on my wristwatch, to which she immediately said, "But it is past 8.00pm now, the lady who stood beside me at the taxi stand told me so. How can you charge me the extra $1.00 then? You are taking advantage of me". I started explaining to her that it was beyond my control as the meter fare and time is adjusted and fixed by the LTA, Land Transport Authorities, and I cannot manipulate or add in any amount I wished. She began speaking in a harsh and angry tone, accusing me of adding the surcharge of $1.00 saying, "I come to the Casino very often and I know about the fixed $3.00 surcharge \, this I will pay but not the additional extra $1.00 which is unfair". I replied "Aunty, if you are unwilling to pay the peak hour surcharge of $1.00 I will forego it, but please mind your words, I am not a cheat so don't keep repeating your accusations". She said she comes from Indonesia and she has often donated big sums of money towards charities and the $1.00 means nothing to her, its the principle. It was futile trying to keep on explaining about the surcharge and so, I chose to remain silent for the rest of the way feeling rather annoyed over the incident. When we arrived at her condominium, the metered fare was $14.10 and I said "You may pay me $13.00". She paid me according to my request and exclaimed "These few days keep raining all the time" as she alighted. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Joy To The World.

Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way, and soon it will be Christmas Day. The famous Christmas decorations are already being put up including 'Lights On' along Orchard Road. So many beautiful Christmas trees of different sizes are being lined up everywhere together with the awesome and colorful lightings, has turned this whole area into a "Fairyland". This year's colour theme of blue and silver, have brightened up the greetings to welcome the yuletide celebrations.
Already crowds of shoppers are showing up all over the island, lugging bags and bags of Christmas goodies from the many well decorated shops and shopping malls. Party mood is on for sure.
The influx of tourists this year, an all time high, from all over the world is very evident and coupled with the year end school holidays, makes for a very, very joyous and crowded time of revelries.
Christmas season is starting early this year, you can tell by the increase in the long queues of commuters at taxi stands, along the roadsides and around popular spots. This of course brings on, without fail, against Taxi Drivers, the inevitable 'gripes and complaints' of , "You know how long I've been waiting here or not?", "Where are all the taxis?","Why no taxis at all?" and "See, every taxi 'Busy' or with 'On Call' signs", "Changing shift", "Look lah, they won't stop at all!" and etc.
Looks like this is going to be "Huat ahh..." for us taxi drivers this year, Cheers!  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Return To Me. (Sounds familiar?).

Staying put like in a 'merry go round' and unable to get out for three solid hours, I became very "Sian" and started counting. You see, I was following the queue at Bukit Panjang Plaza taxi stand at about 7.45pm last night and for the next three hours or so, I kept coming back to the taxi stand, time after time, fetching passengers to places nearby one after another, and each time, all my passengers carried at least 7 to 10 NTUC plastic bags full of groceries, goodies and stuff which very much slowed down the loading process. My 'boot' had also worked overtime getting filled up with plastic bags on every trip. I kept count of about 8 similar continuous trips and it seemed endless, kind of a repeat 'dilemma', a feeling of getting 'stucked' at the same taxi stand which must have possessed a kind of powerful 'magnet'.
The taxi fares were all slim as expected, between $3.20 to $4.40 going in short circles, to Petir Road twice, Ring Road, Fajar Road, Jelapang Road, Segar Road and Pending Road, all the roads located so close by.
Finally, after telling myself to drive away from the 'stale' stand for the last time, my wish came true and I ferried this young man to West Coast Drive, what an exciting change of venue but, as soon as he alighted near the Food Centre, after paying me the $8.00 fare, another young man immediately came on board, "Uncle, Bukit Panjang Plaza please". "Ouch, oh no, not back again" I whimpered. It was too good to be true, sighing as I started the drive back.