Driving a taxi in Singapore has to be an interesting experience – a career that can shift gears from boring to an adrenaline rush to just plain old irritating in a moments notice… or most likely with every change of passenger.
Here’s a look at some of the types of passengers that Taxi Drivers (or “Uncles” and “Aunties”) you are bound to encounter in Singapore. Are you one of them?
Lost “Ang Moh”
Singapore doesn’t exactly have the easiest street names to pronounce. When our expat friends with heavy accents tell cabbies that they are heading to a bar along Unsung Hill (Ann Siang Hill), uncles need to do a double take. Cabbies may ask several times for a location, passengers may answer several times, but still – it seems like a lot of guesswork. Low Par Sat? Tam-Pines? De-Lok Ai-Yah? Wa! Buay tahan!
When an uncle lines up along Clarke Quay, he is prepared with plastic bags for his over expressive passengers that may spill more out of their mouth than our signature Merlion. The 4am clientele includes rowdy teenagers, more-than-drunk office workers, and over-enthusiastic alcohol filled tourists.
The irritating know-it-all
It’s good to know where you’re going, but some passengers enforce it on cabbie uncles more than necessary. They may think cabbies are out to “cheat their money”, and are insistent on certain cabbies abiding by their preferred routes. If cabbie uncles dare take a detour, be prepared for an earful of rants and noting down of license plate numbers!
Singapore is a fast-paced city, and we do host the F1 night races, but some people think that cabbie uncles are F1 drivers. (From Pasir Ris): “Uncle, I need to go to Jurong. Can reach in 20 minutes?” “Uncle can drive as fast as possible?” “Uncle, can shift to Lane 3? Faster.” Lewis Hamilton would make many Singaporean passengers happy.
“Uncle, I’m going to orchard. (Halfway through) Eh, Uncle, can go to Bugis instead? No, no. Uncle, change location, go city hall.” Although Singapore is small, location-hopping is common. Cultural differences aside, cabbies across the globe face their fair share of interesting adventures.
London Cabbie, Mason McQueen, travels the world as a cabbie and also encounters unique passengers and experiences. He experienced inequality in Cambodia; Arctic conditions in Canada; to political unrest in Fiji.
Find out more about what cabbies around the world have to deal with in Mason McQueen’s adventures in A Cabbie Abroad, airing on BBC Knowledge on Wednesday, 17th June at 9:55pm.