It’s been quite a while since my last blog entry here. I was busy learning the taxi trade the hard way thru trial and error. From 24 Feb onwards, I started driving taxi full swing. Before that, it was on and off for only 4 hours taking a part of Alan Taxi’s (AT) shift trying to get a feel of it. I’m still under the intensive tutelage of AT. If there is any problem or I’m not sure of certain things, I would just call up AT to seek enlightenment. I use a bluetooth headset to talk whenever I’m driving.
I would say that so far it’s quite an enjoyable experience driving taxi meeting all kinds of people. It is a good decent honest living job specially reserved for citizens only. For that, I am very grateful to this government for not opening this taxi trade to PRs and foreigners. Most of us taxi drivers share my view. But then in life, sometimes making an honest decent living can be a challenge. Allow me to elaborate what happened to me last night. It nearly cost me my life if not for the cool and calm manner I had maintained throughout the nearly 10 min ordeal I had endured with a foreign barbarian!
I started my shift yesterday from about 1500 hrs and supposed to end by 0300 hrs the next day. I’m relieving my fren Siong who is currently on a 5-day tour in China. He is also a relief driver. I only pay $30 for the 12-hour shift. He is paying the balance $20 for the $50 taxi daily rental(12 hr shift). On the 3rd day i.e. yesterday (19/3/14), I started my shift as per normal. I was happily picking up passengers all over the island. It was a good day and business was brisk.
After I had dropped off one Hong Konger off Pearls Centre along Eu Tong Seng Street, I proceeded to People’s Park Complex along the same road. I saw two sets of passengers – two Caucasians and a local Chinese couple. I stopped in front of the two Caucasian men since they were nearer to me. They were huge typical Caucasians with loud voice. I only realized my mistake when I smelt alcohol once they boarded my taxi. But then it was too late to reject them. I’ll live to regret that mistake.
The one wearing dark colored T-shirt with bermuda shorts heaved into the front passenger seat and instructed me to send him to the Carlton City Hotel where he stay and his friend to West Coast Crescent. I had difficulty understanding his pronunciation and kept asking him to repeat the name of the hotel and the location. He told me it’s at Gopeng Street opposite Amara Hotel. I then told him that I know how to get to Amara Hotel along Tanjong Pagar Rd. I also know where is Gopeng Street but not sure of the Carlton City Hotel though. He told me to just send him to Amara Hotel. I told him no problem. It’s just a short distance away. I hit the meter and off we go. It was about 2149 hrs.
I shot off and made an U-turn at Upper Pickering Street into South Bridge Road heading straight to Tanjong Pagar Road. They were busy talking in an unknown foreign tongue. They could not be speaking English, French, German or Portuguese which I could differentiate. I suspect they belong to one of the Eastern European bloc countries. Maybe from Russia or Ukraine? Very rough and loud with an alien accent. Whilst approaching Tanjong Pagar Road, I distinctly heard they mentioned about Maxwell Road. Thinking that one of them might want to drop off at Maxwell Road, I then turned into the said road just in case. From Maxwell Road, I could always take one of the side roads to connect to Amara Hotel which is just nearby.
All of a sudden, the huge burly Caucasian seated in front started to shout and threaten me. He accused me of cheating him by taking Maxwell Road instead of Tanjong Pagar Road. He knew our roads better than me! I told him I had no intention to cheat him and that I could always give him a discount. No problem at all. He then accused me of lying and then started to hurl all kinds of verbal insults on me. Calling me idiot and stupid. A liar and a cheat! What a langgar situation! When he started to punch the front windscreen with both his bare hands continuously (3 to 5 times), I was shocked and frightened. I kept telling him to relax and cool down. I would send him there for free. No need to pay OK? At the same time I activated the panic button located next to the ignition key to alert my company Operations Control Centre.
From about 2149 hrs to 2200 hrs, for barely 10 mins especially the last few mins before 2200 hrs, I was in mortal fear of my life. I was so worried that he might just punch me on my face whilst I was at the steering wheel concentrating my driving on the road. Imagine he could smash the front windscreen with his bare hands and what would happen if he just decided to land his punches on my face? Controls immediately called my handphone. I asked the Chinese lady if she could speak Mandarin. I then told her in Mandarin there are “two ang mo in my taxi very aggressive and violent. They wanted to assault me. They already smashed my windscreen!” The nice Chinese lady asked me not to panic. They would call the police for me after I told her my location.
When I turned into Wallich Street, the front seated Caucasian then instructed me to stop and asked how much was the fare. It was $9 plus including the $3 city surcharge. He gave me $10 and walked away leaving me in a daze state. It was a traumatic experience.
It happened so fast within few mins but it seemed an eternity. Time stood still. Many thoughts came running to my mind and I went over my options in rapid speed. Should I just drive the taxi to Police CID at Cantonment Street which is just a short distance away or should I confront them when they were about to leave the scene as the police were on the way? I’ve read much about the many cases of taxi drivers assaulted by huge burly drunk Caucasians and I was afraid that I might be one of them. I did not want to be another statistic of such increasing number of cases. Should I snap a picture of him for the police to apprehend him? Fearing for my own safety, I just decided to let them go away. They simply walked away without saying another word!
At about 2210 hrs, the police finally arrived. Photos of the damaged windscreen were taken. My statement was recorded. After nearly an hour, at about 2300 hrs, I finally left the scene after having been advised by Controls to send the vehicle to Loyang Workshop immediately for repair. I had to stop plying for passengers.
Immediately I tried to contact the hirer who is on the 0300 hrs to 1500 hrs shift. He ought to be sleeping by then. Next, I called my mentor AT to brief him what happened. He was there when I needed his help most. Taxi Loh also tagged along to offer moral support. AT guided me on the procedures of sending the vehicle to the workshop. He said he would be waiting for me at Loyang Drive outside the workshop to assist me and then fetch me home. AT was waiting for me when I finally arrived and handed over the vehicle at about 2350 hrs.
When the hirer managed to call me, he said he would like to view the taxi. I drove to his place which is near to my home. I apologized profusely for causing inconvenience to him. But he was kind and understanding. Telling me that so long as I’m safe, there is no issue with his loss of earnings as the vehicle had to be in the workshop. The Chinese lady operator at Controls kept asking me if I was safe or any injuries sustained. She called me few times to check. She was also very kind and re-assuring.
I slept at about 3am today. I was waken at 9am by the workshop. I was told to get a copy of the police report and I had to report to Loyang for more reports. After I had lodged a police report and done the paper work at Loyang Workshop, it’s already 1300 hrs by the time I came home. My hirer and myself were at the workshop admin office. We were told that the windscreen costing about $2,000 would be replaced free of charge. I need not pay a single cent. This sort of cases happened about once every week. We could not claim any loss of income. It is just just bad luck that such thing happened to us. On the brighter side, there is no bodily hurt suffered by me.
Yes no physical harm to me? What about the mental anguish and injustice I suffered? As a citizen of this country, could my government protect me from such similar future trauma? My dignity and basic rights as a local born native of this land – my home and country are blatantly abused beyond repair – though the windscreen could be repaired! The Police classified the case as “Mischief”. They did not bother to ask for the video recording at all. They simply treated it as another case of simple mischief without any empathy at all. Do we still condone and allow all these foreign trash or barbarians to come to our country to abuse us like there is no “government” here? Obviously, one of them is working and living here at West Coast Crescent. Need I go further to quote all the cases involving foreigner monsters abusing locals whether taxi drivers or otherwise to highlight the issue?
My case is the latest hot topic amongst the twenty over taxi drivers in my neighborhood. They have decided to avoid picking up Caucasians unless they are in a family or with ladies. It is better to stay safe than sorry. After all, nobody will come to our aid if anything disastrous were to happen to us even though we are eking out a decent honest living trying very hard to survive in this most expensive city in the world! My latest experience reinforces that mindset when they heard previously so many horror stories about taxi drivers being assaulted by Caucasians!
People are impatient, short-fused and easily riled up. A Briton just walloped a taxi driver over a 20-dollar fare dispute, an American was jailed for punching another cabby and just recently, Donnino Rossetti, the owner of an Italian restaurant was also jailed for hitting yet another cabby. Poor taxi drivers in Singapore seem to kerna a lot these days.