taxi

Take a moment and think about your life.  Think about your daily grind, your routine, the way you take the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) to work every morning.

Think about the hundreds of people you pass, brush shoulders with, even push past. Think about the way you interact with people. It’s weird to think, but you interact with hundreds of people on a daily basis and don’t even realize it.

These interactions are small moments —  tiny, seemingly insignificant seconds of your life.  They have no weight to them, no purpose, no real meaning, yet they have significant power. These small moments all add up to the bigger sum of your life, creating opportunities and experiences that are missed or abused by the hurried and impatient.

What if you took five minutes to slow down and appreciate the people and the interactions around you? Took a moment to notice the sorrow on one woman’s face, or the pain in that man’s eyes sitting next to you on the train? What could your tiny interaction mean to them?

I have always been fascinated by cabbies. Singapore cabbies generally are involved with political topics and always complaining about Singapore. Typical way of expressing their frustration over horrible passengers.

I am a frequent traveler on cab and I have interviewed numerous drivers, yet there remained so much I did not know about them. Topmost on my mind as I embarked, were these questions: How hard is it to be a cabby? And how much can a cabby earn?

But this one, top of the top, moment and experience I never forget. He is in late 50s and was a former senior sales and marketing manager at an electronics MNC for 20 years before he was retrenched in 2009. Married with a wife and two teenage daughters, he tried his hand at being a financial advisor for a year before deciding to become a taxi driver. A gentle and humble man, that I will always remember. His story touch my heart.

This is a story of patience and brotherhood; of mankind, hard work, devoted family man. It’s a story of small, random acts of kindness that have the power to affect people on a big scale.

So, I had a chilled out with colleagues at Boat Quay after long day hard work. I flagged a cab around 9.30pm. I got into the cab along Quay side and said: “Uncle, Pandan Crescent, go by Upper Thomson, Lornie, Farrer, AYE.” please. “Uncle replies, Ok”.

Those were the only words he uttered and he kept his eyes locked, sinking for the rest of the journey. He then started the meter and drive. He gave me a hint of what was to come – prefer to be left alone. I describe him as tired old man shows those droopy, puffy eyes, that obviously lacked of sleep. His skin is so pale and white, showed dehydration. I feel he hasn’t been sleeping for ages? Despite of his tiredness showed, he make an effort to smile and greet to me. I feel welcome.

Then, I have the urged to start chatted with him. I asked him about how he feel, how’s was his day, and he replied, his day was not that bad,  and I realised, he began to enjoyed my company. I started breaking the eyes, and I managed to pull the trigger deeper. He began to feel at ease and very comfortable with me and we chatted about his family. I get excited, and began to asked more. The moment I asked about his wife, is a complete silent. There’s a long pause, no answer. Oops! I am in big trouble.

So, I changed the subject, sharing about me instead. Then, I shared with him about haemorrhoids which are a common ailment among cabbies, along with backaches and high blood pressure. And he agreed with me. And he is impressed, why I know so much about cabbies, that explained. I am regular passengers and I experienced with many drivers from age range of 28-60 years old. And he laughed.

We started to feel comfortable again, and he suddenly brought the topic about his wife. He shared with me, his wife is ill for about 20 years, unforeseen disease. And it caused a lot of expenses spent and I sympathise him. He sounded sad, worry, and helpless. He added, he raised 2 daughters both in University, the eldest study law and the second study engineer. He is blessed having 2 wonderful daughters and he is very proud man. I extended my hand to reach him and pat his left shoulder saying, “well done uncle. That is a great achievement. I wish both your daughters successful”. He look back at me and smile, “thank you young lady”.

I feel honoured that I have the opportunity to meet such a vulnerable man. I sit back and think, what are the possible way I can help him? Then I have the idea. “Uncle, have you approached social welfare where they can assist sponsoring and help for low income earner”. So, I gave him few organisation names that I liaised before and contact, for him to meet them. I suggested to him, “Uncle, after you meet them, please use my name as reference”.  I gave him my business card to share. He keep on thanking me. I feel blessed that I did something to make him feel at ease.

I have reached to my destination. Is sad that I have to end our conversation. I will definitely missed him. He is the most respectable driver I’ve met and I would like to engage him for business purposes. So, I asked for his name and contact, for future business. And he gave his details with a smile on his face.

I pay him the taxi fare and the remaining I said, please keep it. And he thank me again and constantly said so. I said to him, we will meet again. And he look at me and smile, “thank you young lady. Blessed you and have a good night sleep”.

I shut the door, and wave him goodbye. I speak to myself, “save journey and you too take care, uncle”. My heart  suddenly felt heavier. I feel that 20mins journey with him, it means a lot to me.

I ask to myself, what a fortunate person I am and I am truly blessed. I noticed in general human being never satisfy with whatever they have. Appreciate little things, means lot. A smile, make another person feel better. A good word, saying take care, means so much to your parent, friends or your colleagues. Always, greet and wish well. I believe what goes around comes around. If you mean and wish well, wherever you go, will always be pleasant and memorable one.