On the afternoon of 22/2/2015(Sun), the 4th day of CNY, some of my taxi course-mates gathered at Old Kallang Airport Road Hawker Centre to touch base. Nearly 40 of us took the 2-week taxi crash course and graduated on 16 Jan 2014. It’s slightly more than a year since we passed out from Singapore Taxi Academy. It’s a pity that not all turned out in full force. We came with our own $2 red packet to exchange amongst ourselves for good luck! link
Anyway, we were very excited to catch up with each other. We exchanged news on our different career paths. Most of them are taxi hirers with few relief drivers working for different taxi operators. We related our own experiences and giving each other useful tips relating to our job. We started on an equal footing in the same class under the same brilliant instructor, but after a year of baptism of fire clearly we could sense the differences amongst us. Some ran faster whilst some are still playing catch-up. Even myself could not match the better ones amongst them. For instance I told them it’s not easy being OMO – One Man Operation without any relief driver. But many of them could do it OMO (paying full rental instead of half) driving everyday for more than 12 hours with no qualms at all. I really salute them for their tenacity and perseverance.
I also learnt from them that so and so got a new job and given up driving taxi. Some have also returned their cabs and become relief drivers. Many have switched from the main taxi operator to a smaller operator etc.. They took time off from their busy driving routine (due to CNY) to drop by with some managed to catch passengers on the way to the meeting venue. They started arriving from 1pm onwards until we finally dispersed after 3pm. Before we left, we promised to meet annually to keep in touch. Hopefully, more of them will turn up next year. We expected our brilliant instructor Mr Foo to turn up since he suggested that we meet up. Unfortunately, he was busy with his “Lo Hei” session somewhere. I observed that some of my course-mates still addressed Mr Foo as “Sir”. It shows the kind of respect they accorded him. As the Chinese saying goes “一日为师，终身为父!”
In fact, we are all on WhatsApp chat group. We used to keep each other updated of road conditions eg traffic jams, airport situation whether the taxi queue is long or the high demand of taxi in certain places
and also not forgetting those monkeys hiding in the bushes! For example, some of them will update us via WhatsApp chat group whenever there is a huge cruise ship calling at Marina Bay Cruise Centre (MBCC). Once the huge ocean liner arrives at MBCC, we could expect few thousand passengers. If we happen to be around the vicinity, we would move over there.
On the same day in the evening, we had the biggest CNY gathering at Elias Mall coffeeshop. The 444 gang under Wilson also came over to join us at EM. More than 30 of us sat on 3 tables. Even M. Chua also took time off to join us to usher in the Year of the Goat. It started at about 7.30pm until past midnight. I had to take leave at about 11pm cuz I had to work the next morning.
The CNY gathering was planned well in advance before the CNY. The number of participants kept growing until it hit more than 30 members. Red Bull initially booked 2 big tables but not enough. We had to add another table to accommodate the extra bodies. Alan Taxi was the treasurer. We contributed a small amount to AT for the expenses. Albert acted as liason officer by setting the menu. Wilson sponsored the 444 gang tables. We only ordered a set of “Lo Hei”, steam boat and some side dishes. Ah Keng sponsored 5kg of fresh flower crabs sourced directly from the kelong. Ah Tong prepared tons of huge fresh prawns, cuttlefish, fishballs, meatballs, fresh vegetables, grouper fish-heads, mushrooms etc etc.
Initially, we ordered some beer to go with the occasion. Later, the boss Cheng San of the coffeeshop dropped by. Out of the blue, he gave instruction to the beer promoters that 4 crates of beer delivered to our tables. 4 crates of beer comprising 2 Guinness, 1 Carlsberg and another Tiger giving us a total of 48 bottles of beer! M. Chua wanted to pay for the food and drinks but we declined since he’s our VIP for the night. Befitting of his status, he already had plan B in mind. He came prepared. Before he left, he distributed 40 pieces of red packets with a piece of Singapore Sweep ticket inside to all of us. With that gesture, he brought much cheers and uplifted the joyous mood by few decibels with shouts of Huat and Fatt!
As usual, we had portable speakers playing music in the background whilst we enjoyed the tons of food cooked on the steam boat with free flow of beer. How not to be merry with so much food, beer, music and most importantly good company? The star of the evening was our dear fren Bob. Everyone from EM and 444 seemed to know Bob. He managed to walk albeit slowly with a cane. He’s recovering fast since his spinal operation last year. He was completely immobilized when we visited him in the hospital last year. Every one took turns to wish him speedy recovery. We were so happy to see his usual self once again.
Obviously our invited guests from 444 were impressed. They thanked us profusely for the efficient and well organized feast. The only regret is that our Leong & Leong – FOM from 444 were not able to join us due to some unforeseeable circumstances. We hope they could join us next time. We missed them lah!
Wilson speaking for the rest declared that it’s the best dinner feast they ever had in recent memory. Many photos were taken and circulated on our smartphones. I even uploaded some of the pictures on Facebook. link It’s indeed a memorable way to usher in the Goat Year with a bang! So many “Huats” and “Fatts” were uttered whilst we cheered and toasted each other all night long!