I was infuriated by this letter in The Straits Times on Saturday (March 17):
Advance bookings: How inconsiderate taxi passengers can be
Taxi passengers have said much about the shortcomings of cabbies who are tardy about or renege on call or advance bookings.
Here is a cabby’s point of view:
When I accept an advance booking, I do not accept other fares about an hour before the pick-up time.
I try to arrive 15 minutes early and if passengers are late, I will wait without starting the fare meter.
However, passengers are not so considerate.
Over the past year, I have had some 10 bookings called off. On Monday alone, three of my five bookings for the day were cancelled. Of the three, two were cancelled after I had arrived at the pick-up points.
In fact, one passenger told me to wait after I had arrived. But 20 minutes later, she told me her son had already gone to school by bus. This was at 5.45am.
The second cancellation was a 6.45am booking. I drove to a condominium in town and waited for at least two hours. I called many times, but the passenger did not answer his cellphone.
As a result, I lost out on earnings – at least two hours’ worth – and time, as well as sleep.
Now, I think twice when it comes to accepting bookings.
My plea to passengers: Do not cancel bookings unless there is a valid reason – and, please, not over money considerations; you save but we lose.
It may also discourage cabbies from accepting bookings.
And if passengers must cancel booking, please do so reasonably ahead of time, unlike one of my cancellations, which was made an hour before pick-up.
Taxi companies should also introduce measures to protect cabbies.
Currently, taxi drivers are penalized if they cancel three or more bookings after accepting them. But what about protecting those who have had passengers cancel on them?
I don’t suffer fools gladly so I generally keep conversations with people like Mr Peter Lim and his ilk to a minimum.
But my advice to taxi drivers in general and Mr Lim in particular is this:
Stop your whining.
IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT, GET THE HELL OUT OF THE KITCHEN!!!
Don’t forget taxi drivers are service providers, and dealing with passengers of all kinds comes with the job.
Even idiots who failed PSLE know that “the customer is always right.”
Last I checked, nobody has put a gun to your head to force you to drive a cab. So get over it.
There is a long line of people waiting to drive taxis. If driving a cab is so hard for you, step aside and let others do it.
Perhaps you’ll be more comfortable getting a job in a coffee shop dragging a bucket collecting used plates, bowls and cutlery? Yeah, how about that? Less stress mah. Do give it a serious thought if thinking isn’t too hard for your brains, that is, if you have any.
We have mollycoddled taxi drivers for way too long – laws have been enacted to make sure these retards are happy, that they can be gently persuaded to go to places like airports, etc by forcing customers like us to pay surcharges on top of the metered fares. Our government with all those brilliant scholars bringing home millions of taxpayers’ money for dreaming up harebrained schemes (like the COE – a system that has completely failed as far as I am concerned) and excuses (“integrated resorts” instead of “casinos” and “ponding” instead of “flooding”) have forced customers like us to pay booking fees, peakhour surcharges and pre-holiday surcharges, then public holiday surcharges, midnight charges and all kinds of frigging extras just to make sure taxi drivers are a satisfied and contented lot, never mind the bad attitude, the Michael Schumacher-style driving, the rudeness and the unprofessional behavior we passengers have to put up with. Does the government realize that each time we get into a cab, we are putting our lives at risk?
I can’t think of any other vocation in this country that has been singled out to receive so much special treatment and consideration from our lawmakers. (Despite that, nearly every taxi driver I’ve met seemed to hate the government with every fiber in his body and would gladly contribute towards the violent overthrow of the government if he can get away with it.) Fact is the government continues to pamper taxi drivers while we the ever-suffering passengers have always been told that we are fortunate taxi fares are so cheap, that we should thank our lucky stars that taxi fares are so affordable, that people in other countries fork out a lot more to use taxis. Do other countries create laws to mollycoddle their taxi drivers? The laws always protect the consumers. I have worked and lived overseas and like many others with similar experiences – and also according to tourists and visitors – Singapore works pretty fine in general (on the surface at least) but the only chink in the armor, the one thing that gives Singapore a bad reputation, is our taxi situation. Look at the easy availability of taxis in Hong Kong. Look at the professionalism of taxi drivers in London, or Tokyo. A Japanese taxi driver once told a friend who offered a tip “Thanks but no thanks, do airline pilots expect a tip? It is my privilege to be of service to you, sir.” The day we hear that from a cabbie in Singapore will be the day when Singapore snows!
In Singapore our government seems to be so afraid of pissing off taxi drivers that it is willing to point a big gun to our heads to punish customers like us – the very people who are responsible for making sure that the families of taxi drivers are well fed. Taxi drivers don’t seem to be cognizant of the fact that we customers are the ones who put food on their tables! That their wives can buy abalone at Fairprice and that their kids can go to school because of us! Does our government care if I lose clients? Does our government care if a potential client decides to do business with somebody else instead? Does our government incentize me to travel to farflung locations to get business? Does our government give a shit if I lose two hours’ worth of earnings because I had to wait for a client? Do I bitch and moan and whine and ask the authorities to introduce measures to protect me because my clients keep me awake at night?
So Singapore taxi drivers, listen up and listen good and get this into your thick heads! As a user of taxis nearly every day for over three decades, I say enough is enough you wimps and ball-less eunuchs! If driving a cab is so darn hard go get yourself a bucket tied to a raffia string and go work in a coffee shop instead, you wanking losers.
And if even that is too hard, how about getting a rope and hang yourself? I know many taxi users in Singapore who will be quite happy to lend you a hand.
As for me, I’ll even buy you the rope.
How’s that for preferential treatment?