I’m now driving the morning shift from 6am to 6pm Mon to Sat. From next week, I will take the Sun morning shift as well since I enjoy driving so much. My other relief drivers shall take care of the night shift from 6pm to 6am. Since last Aug when I started as a full time hirer, I have improved by leaps and bounds in terms of my driving skills and road knowledge. I’ve never been more confident than ever whenever I pick up pax nowadays. Unlike driving trains, I got to interact and direct contact with my pax. Like I used to say, I don’t talk to pax unless they wish to. Maybe, I should start a series of “Conversation with my passenger …” blog to capture some of the interesting exchanges I had with some of my passengers!
Let’s start with the most recent passenger I picked up this evening earlier just before I reported off duty.
Let’s sidetrack briefly, I would put up the changing shift sign to “Pasir Ris” around 4pm. I would then do shutter services at Pasir Ris MRT station or proceed to Ikea or Giant @Tampines. Few trips around Bedok, Tampines or Pasir Ris and I’ll head back home by 5.30pm. 10 mins of cleaning up the interior and exterior (front & back windscreens) of the vehicle before officially handing over to my relief around 5.45pm. My relief will have another good 15 minutes to settle down such as adjusting the side mirrors, rear mirror, driver seat position or put in place his personal items like coin box, cash card, log in to MDT, coffee flask etc before he officially set off at 6pm.
Starting from 6pm from Mon to Sun is the start of the evening peak. From 6pm to midnight it’s extra 25% on top the metered fare. Midnight to 6am will rake in another extra 50% of the metered fare! If the pickup is inside CBD, another $3 city surcharge after 5pm. Current bookings at $3.30 instead of $2.30. As such, it’s definitely more lucrative to drive the night shift. But then I still prefer the day shift despite that. Let others make their money!
The first taxi didn’t want to pick up the male pax carrying fishing rods with a big plastic bag. I was the 2nd in queue at Pasir Ris MRT station. He was eyeing at me hopefully but decided not to approach me. I wound down the window and looked at him.
He said, “Uncle I don’t think you want to fetch me!”
I replied, “Let’s try?”
“I want to go to VivioCity.” was his response. I looked at my built-in clock on my taxi console. It’s about 10 mins before 4pm.
“Hop in and I’ll send you there.” I was thinking that I should have enough time to send this guy to VivioCity and from there get another fish back to the East before I call it a day knowing that there would be tons of fishes there based on my past experiences. Straightaway, he jumped into my taxi with much relief. I hit the meter and told him that I would be taking the KPE/MCE and exit 2A Telok Blangah all the way to VivioCity. Our friend immediately corrected me in a Filipino accent that actually he wanted to go back home at “The Caribbean at Keppel Bay.” KNN!
Alamak, quite cumbersome. I would have to send him to the basement carpark and search for his block then make my way out of that condominium past the security. Turn right into Keppel Rd. Had to make a huge U-turn to VivioCity via Sentosa gateway midway (towards Sentosa cuz no right turn from Keppel to VivioCity) before I could meander my way to the first taxi stand Giant @VivioCity! No choice lah. I can’t chase him out right?
Even though I was quite “bang balls” having been conned by him, I still kept a smiling face and told him no problem with the last minute change of destination.
“I see you went fishing? You carrying fishing rods.” I commented.
He said he was fishing at the Pasir Ris park pond. He loved fishing during his spare time. I then gave him some tips on fishing venues such as Pasir Ris Farmway One where there are huge fishing ponds there. I told him I ever fetched pax there having caught many big fishes. There are also many people fishing at the mouth of Sungei Api Api off Pasir Ris beach. Now it’s the time cuz the tide is high and there are fishes to be caught. He then asked me if I’m interested in fishing?
“Nop, I feel it’s quite a waste of time. However, I love to eat fish especially if it’s freshly caught off the sea. Those fishes from the wet market are not fresh and they are not as good. They are full of formaldehyde lah! I used to go to the Kelong in Pengerang or Kg Pendas to enjoy fresh seafood where money may not even buy at all.”
Half-way through the journey I could hear some snapping sounds from his plastic bag.
“What’s that sound?”
“Oh, it’s some of the fishes I just caught at the fishing pond in the park. Nearly 10 of them. Since you love to eat fish, I’ll give you one. I’ve got seabass, grouper, red snapper amongst others. They are salt water fish even though it’s from the pond. Take your pick!”
“Really? I would like to have the red snapper then. Thank you so much!”
“Could I call you if I happen to be fishing in Pasir Ris cuz I used to come here often?
“No problem. Just call me especially around 4pm when I would usually be hanging around in home ground.” I passed him my name card.
When I entered “The Caribbean at Keppel Bay”, he directed me to the basement carpark and pointed to Blk 12 where he lives. The metered fare was $20.60. I insisted on giving him a $5 discount since I take his fish or else I wouldn’t take it. He refused. That kind gentleman gave me the exact amount and took a plastic bag at the back seat of my taxi ( my relief Alan Taxi standby many plastic bags for drunk pax ) to put the almost 2 kg red snapper before he hurriedly left!
I do not know this Filipino gentleman at all ( I assume he’s a Filipino from his accent ). Whether he’s working here? A PR here? I’ve no idea. I just met him once and we had a good conversation despite the bad start when he told me he’s going to VivioCity instead of his condominium. He’s humble and soft spoken. I’ve met many such Filipinos in the course of my work. Who says that all Filipinos are bad?
When I brought the red snapper back home, my mother was most surprised and delighted. She said it would easily cost more than $10 in the wet market and it wouldn’t be so fresh at all. She decided to divide into three portions to cook thrice. We shall have the head this evening. The mid section and the tail sections shall be eaten on other days!
When I was waiting at the traffic lights just outside the said condominium, an Indian middle aged couple knocked at my window. The wife said that she saw my Pasir Ris changing shift sign on top of my taxi. Time was about 4.35pm.
“Are you prepared to send us to Mandarin Gardens?”
I shouted jackpot! The bemused husband smiled and said, “Let’s go then before your jackpot is gone!”
Another hearty conversation with them. I found out that they are PRs here. We discussed about current affairs and recent happenings. I shall not elaborate here. That will be another blog on another day.
By 5.10pm, I reached No 5 Siglap Rd inside Mandarin Gardens. Fare was $12.90. The husband gave me $12 and looking for coins. I told him forget it.
“I’m sharing my jackpot winning with you. You can keep the 90 cents!” They burst out laughing uncontrollably!
“Go back home safely and enjoy your fish with your family!” Yup, I told him about the story of the fish and I even showed it to them which was placed at the front seat!