While there have been more taxi companies and clearly more taxis on the road, getting one when you need it is another story. And when you do finally get one, the ride itself is yet another story.
This time, I'm not going to talk about the street full of On Call taxis because I've already done that previously. I'm also not going to complain about the list of surcharges that is longer than a Secondary school student's school reopening shopping list, nor will I analyse the mystery of the disappearing taxis at 11:30pm.
I'm just going to share with you a story of the five taxi uncles that I've met in the past months.
I met Taxi Uncle #1 when I was driving on the expressway. It was a warm or cool night (I won't know because I had the air-con in my car), and I was just cruising with the flow of traffic on lane 1 (rightmost lane for those who don't drive). Taxi Uncle #1 in a vacant taxi picked up his speed from behind me and started to tailgate me real close. The lane on my left was rather busy so it was not really possible for me to change lane, and so I accelerated to 110km/h (shhhhh...). However that didn't satisfy Taxi Uncle #1 and he continued to tailgate me.
Eventually, he found some gap on the left and sped up, filtering all the way to the leftmost lane. Just when I thought he was exiting, he filtered all the way back to the rightmost lane again and ended up right in front of me. I anticipated the usual hard brake sabotage coming my way so I filtered to the left lane to avoid trouble. Surprisingly, just after I filtered to the left, he swiftly filtered all the way to the leftmost lane again and... exited. Huh? So the sheer dangerous speeding stunt was just an attempt to spite me? Like that also happy?
Another day, I needed to rush to the airport to catch a plane and so I dialed a cab. Despite the automated robotic voice promising the taxi will arrive in three to five minutes, Taxi Uncle #2 was nowhere in sight after I waited ten minutes below my flat. Finally I sighted him driving in, but he drove right pass my flat and went all the way to the other side of anther flat! I desperately dragged my luggage towards his location and shouted and waved my hands frantically every now and then but he didn't see me at all. Finally, he called my handphone and realised that he went to the wrong flat. After I got into the taxi and after he apologised for being late and lost, he asked if there was any toilet nearby because he needed to go! Are you kidding me?!?
Last week when a foreign friend and I took a taxi from Marina Bay Sands to Ang Mo Kio (I didn't drive because I couldn't talk myself into paying the $8/hr parking fee), we met the extremely rude Taxi Uncle #3. After we exited the expressway to Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, I told Taxi Uncle #3 that we wished to go to block 232.
"Where is it?", he asked
"Er... I don't know.", I replied.
Taxi Uncle #3 then followed with a very loud "TSK" and started pressing his GPS fast and furious. Luckily his GPS gave in to his torture and disclosed the location of block 232. When we were paying, my friend asked if he could pay using his credit card.
"No! Cash only!"
To avoid making Taxi Uncle #3 even more unhappy, my friend paid in cash obediently and I held back asking Taxi Uncle #3 whether the credit card machine in his taxi was for display only.
We met Taxi Uncle #4 immediately on the ride back to my friend's hotel. We took just about fifteen minutes to get from Ang Mo Kio to Marina Bay. Throughout the whole journey, he drove like Vin Diesel in his modified Chevrolet Chevelle SS and "Warning: Drive Carefully!" kept popping up on his GPS screen. Whenever I managed to take a peep at his speedo while rolling over, it was showing me 120km/h. Fortunately for both my friend and me, we managed to hold our dinner in our stomachs.
Last but not least, I met Taxi Uncle #5 when I was back from an overseas trip and took his taxi at the airport. And this was how the conversation went after I told him my destination...
"Go by which way? PIE or ECP?"
"Er... any way with less traffic lor."
"Now peak hours, everywhere also traffic jam one."
"Er... then the shorter way bah."
"Both about the same lah!"
"Then whichever way that is easier lah!" (I didn't know what I meant by "easier". Must be the jet lag.)
"It's about the same lah..."
I then had such a bad headache after a sleepless flight and having to decide which expressway that I almost told him that I would pay him to decide for me.