Today is the 2nd day of CNY. It’s also exactly one year after I joined this company having returned my taxi as a hirer. Last February , I was still facing an uncertain future without any confirmation of a stable job. Now, things look promising for me with a stable secure job.
I could even go on working beyond the company’s official retirement age at 55 yrs till 65 yrs on annual contract subject to medical fitness. When I turn 55 this Aug, I could either go on with annual renewal contract or I could opt for the “flexi-scheme” meaning I get paid whenever I report for work. I think this is the only company in the world where as long as one reports back to work once in 6 months under the flexi-scheme, one could still keep the job and remain on the payroll!
Even though I had to work on CNY, I still feel grateful that I’ve got a well paid job at my age. We know that it’s quite difficult to get a decent job once you are in your 40s, let alone when I joined this company at age 54. Most of my M/sian colleagues have gone back so we had to stand in for them. We’ve no complts cuz we also get additional incentives for working during this festive period.
Not only we had quite an extra monetary reward for working during this festive season, we were also given KFC meals, drinks and yes angpao in the form of Mac vouchers for each and every staff. Our supervisors even forked out their own pocket money to buy us 2 toto tickets placed inside angpao for every one of us! Hopefully, one of us will strike the jackpot so that we could have more free makan.
Such is the kind of environment I’m working now where our efforts are much appreciated. Surprisingly, there is not much MC during this period. Only a handful of MCs. Chinese or non-Chinese, we all look forward to working during this festive period. Certain jobs like those in the essential services such as transport services including my job still need to be manned round the clock 24/7. As part of the job description, we understand what we are in for when we take on the job. It is expected of us.
Compared to my previous taxi driver job, there are good and bad. After a year on the job, more or less I’m set to the routine of a salaried job. But still there are times when I miss my previous job as a taxi driver. Even though there is an assurance of a regular income and its fringe benefits that come along with the stability of this job, I still feel that it’s rather restricted and confined. My current job is too specialised compared to the colourful life of a taxi driver.
As a taxi driver, the whole island is my playground. I’m free to roam to every corner of the island. Imagine zipping around the island in a taxi for more than 10 hrs a day making a living on the roads. The things I’ve seen and the number of passengers I interacted surely are much more interesting than any other jobs. It’s a breathtaking experience lacking in my current job.
I could even say that as a taxi driver, I was more in tuned with pulse of the country in terms of the state of the economy and a cross section of our society. Whatever happens or any latest developments, taxi drivers are the first to know. Whenever a new road or super highway is open, taxi drivers are the first to try out. When there is a new building or shopping mall opening, taxi drivers will be the first to see when we fetch and send pax there. Goodies bags are even given to encourage taxi drivers to cruise in when new establishments especially hotels are open for business.
To bring the logic further, any new policy or rules that the govt introduced, taxi drivers will have the immediate first hand raw feedback from the public when they interact with passengers. As such, I could say that taxi drivers are the barometer of a society. We are more in-tuned with the general sentiments of the public including foreigners whether tourists or expatriates on how they perceive us as Singaporeans and our country.
That is why I say taxi driving is a career with many exhilarating experiences. Whether taxi driving is a viable career or not – that’s a different matter.
Anyway, it took me quite some time to adjust to my current job after the switch from taxi driving. But the allure and pull of driving taxi never fades. I still miss driving taxi. Maybe when my 3 year contract is due, I may consider switching over to taxi again. I could still drive taxi if I opt for the flexi scheme. By then, I won’t know what could have happened to the taxi industry. Already in one year, there is so much changes in the taxi industry with the invasion of 3rd party apps without any taxi fleet hardware moving in with cut throat competition and wantonly slaughtering their way thus disrupting the otherwise well regulated predictable taxi industry reserved for locals only.
Anyway, it’s still early for me to make the decision on whether to go back to driving taxi. Most probably I’ll drive taxi when I reach the mandatory retirement age of 65. Taxi drivers subject to medical checkup could drive till 75 yrs. Don’t you think that driving taxi at age 65 is so much better than collecting cardboards or clearing dirty oily plates at Food Courts?
As in all the previous 8 yrs, yesterday morning on the first day of Chinese New Year (CNY), my good old friend Datuk Freddie personally delivered more than 10 pieces of medium size rabbit fish to my humble residence. This is the 9th consecutive year that he has faithfully done so. This time round, I was not at home to receive him due to work. I was on night shift yet to report off duty.
My mother on my behalf received the gift of fish from Freddie which meant a lot for the Chinese as it symbolises abundance and prosperity [年年有余(鱼)]. I told my mother to give him a red packet meant for his daughter. I ever told him that I would continue giving red packet to his grown up adult daughter until she’s married. I also asked my mother to hand over 2 books – The Chinaman by Stephen Leather and Norwegian Wood by Maruki Murakami. Much to my surprise, Freddie reciprocated with a big red packet for my mother! Link
We were so busy that we could hardly meet up so the books were put on hold for quite some time even though I’ve finished reading them. I usually pass over to him books I’ve read. I hope he’s finished reading the 1,000 page “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts – that’s the last book I gave him. Link
Over the 9-year span – from Feb 2010 till Feb 2018 that my faithful friend Freddie has consistently delivered rabbit fish aka CNY fish, many things have happened not to mention that we have aged over the years and his brand new luxurious BMW 5 series COE also about to expire! Man and machine also grow old and aged in this mortal world. Nothing is permanent in this transient existence. But I wish our beautiful island city state will defy this logic and remain much longer wistfully lasting forever in eternity.
Just to mention some – I’ve changed jobs thrice, many friends were made and lost with some having departed to the netherworld. Our children have also grown up. His 2 children having graduated to be a specialist doctor consultant and an accountant whilst mine about to sacrifice 2 of his best years for the country.
Notwithstanding these changes in our lives, our friendship has grown and bonded through the years. The Chinese saying “路遥知马力，日久见人心” truly describes our special friendship. Link
This brand new Year of the Dog hopefully will be a much better than last year’s Rooster. It is going to be my next milestone in life and I’m looking forward to it. May the Year of the Dog bring us all luck, prosperity and happiness in this uncertain and turmoil world.
PS: Update from Freddie.
I believe this could b a commemorative note. I asked many of my friends n it seems was not reported in the press. There were also unable to change for it with the banks.
☝️ That’s the piece of note given to my mother in the red packet.
Read related articles below.