I take taxis rather often in the course of my work (and sometimes, life), so I meet a load of different taxi drivers. With the number of taxis I take every month, I can safely say that I’ve ridden at least 300 taxis in 2015 and many more in 2013 and 2014. So the truth is, I’ve met an entire spectrum of attitudes when it comes to these drivers.
Many of these drivers love to talk. But sometimes, at 7am in the morning, the last thing you want to hear is the voice of a taxi driver droning on and on about his life, his problems and what he thinks about Singapore. But you know what is categorically worse than that? A taxi driver droning on and on about what he thinks is wrong about other people’s lives.
What do I mean by that? Well, Singaporean Taxi Drivers can be some of the most racist, sexist and judgemental Singaporeans.
Riding with a Racist
I used to work in an office in Little India, and have an incredibly difficult time dealing with taxi drivers when I’m going home late at night. Many days, I’d leave work around 11pm, absolutely destroyed by my day, only to hop onto a taxi to hear the driver say:
“So happy to pick you up, no smelly Indians in my cab today.”
Ok uncle, first of all: Everyone can be smelly okay? Have you taken the Circle Line at 6pm after a long, hot day? EVERYONE IS MARGINALLY SMELLY. Then all our smell combine power to become ultra-smelly. That’s “smelly” ok?
Another one from the Taxi Driver’s Racist Comments – Greatest Hits Collection is:
“I don’t like driving in Little India at night because I cannot see the Indians.”
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.
Whenever people say that to me, I just give up and stop talking. I mean, if the well-lit roads in Singapore cannot help you when you drive, perhaps you shouldn’t be driving.
But I ain’t done yet. This next one? It’s racist to the max:
“You Malay ah? Why you got beard?”
There was this one day I got really pissed off with the driver, so I replied “Why? Only Malay can have beard ah? So Chinese people and Indian people no beard one lah. Uncle, you racist against Malay people ah? Maybe I should tell Comfort Headquarters about this.”
I swear his face was like:
Journey of Judgement
If you thought racism was bad, I have news for you: Singaporean Cab drivers can be pretty judgemental as well.
I’ve had multiple conversations with drivers trying to tear into my personal life at 8am in the morning. Conversations go like this:
Driver: So how old are you?
Driver: Oh, you got Girlfriend anot? (Does not wait for reply) Are you Married?
Me: Not married.
Driver: Why you not married? What are you doing? You’re 30 already, so late already why not married! Why like that? Cannot find girlfriend ah? Maybe you shave your beard off lah, Chinese girls like clean face guys. Or maybe you should go out make more friends lah……. etc etc
I really have to ask: What makes taxi drivers think they are entitled to making judgements on other people’s lives when they possess no knowledge of my history, circumstances or goals? I mean, sometimes I just feel like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when this happens.
The most power packed one I heard so far when the driver found out that I wasn’t married was:
“BOY! You’re a BOY until you get married then you’re a MAN! So I’m going to call u BOY!”
For the rest of the journey, he just kept repeating “Boy! Boy! Boy! Boy! Boy! Boy! Boy!” endlessly. It was harassment, and it was really bad. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep during that ride.
I hope large taxi companies like Comfort will start training their drivers just a little bit about conversational etiquette, maybe just some dos and don’ts when it comes to conversational topics. There’s an extremely fine line between being friendly, and being intrusive.
Often, that line is being crossed during taxi journeys. I’m firmly believe that there must be a standard set for these drivers to follow that would protect customers from having their personal lives pried apart by drivers.
Before I end: I just want to say that taxi drivers can be absolutely intrusive, but a good group of them are actually pretty good human beings that are being screwed over by the (numerous) black sheep.