Wednesday, March 29, 2006

There is such a thing as a free ride

I'm very puzzled. I've had some time to turn it over in my head, and I still can't figure it out.

I hailed a taxi off the street after finishing work to get home today. My taxi driver was a soft-spoken Chinese man with a moustache, and looked to be in his 40s. He spoke English very well, and was listening to a Mandarin radio station. As with most taxi drivers, he asked which route I wanted to go by, and countered my suggestion with another one, saying his was a quicker route. While we stopped at a traffic light, he even asked me which radio station I wanted to listen to, but I told him I didn't mind and he could listen to whatever he wanted to.

When we were on Scotts Road, I told him to go by Newton, but perhaps he misunderstood me and turned left to go by Bukit Timah Rd. In my flurry, I voiced slight irritation at that wrong turn, but after a while, realised that it probably didn't come out to nicely, so to show that the wong turn didn't bother me, I said, "Oh well, it doesn't matter. At this time after peak hour, this other way doesn't really make much difference at all." He replied by saying, "Next time it happens, I'll know what to do."

When we reached my destination, he reached over and switched off his meter. Just as I was requesting for a receipt, he said, "It's OK. No charge. I'm giving you a free ride." Stunned, I said, "What? But why? Are you sure?" And he said no no, it was ok, and something else which I didn't catch. I tried to remonstrate by saying, "But it's ok you know, my company is paying for this anyway." But he refused, and repeated that next time, he would know what to do (I don't even know what that means). So in a daze, I thanked him profusely and got out, very puzzled.

So while I'm very happy I got a free ride home and saved $6.40, I still can't figure out why he wouldn't take my money. Was it because of the wrong turn? But it was such a teeny thing, and even if so, he could have just given a slight discount. Did I somehow piss him off with something I said? But then if I were a taxi driver and a passenger pissed me off, all the more I'd want to take his/her money. I just dunno.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

maybe he's afraid that you will complain to the HQ?

Woof! said...

maybe you didn't hear him say "would you like to invite me up for a nightcap?" hee hee

curlylocks said...

My guess is that he being from the older generation, takes a lot pride in his job, therefore the slightest hint of mistake on his part has offended his ego. "if u dont think im good enough, i wont take ur money"

Btw, first time commenting:-)

Cupcake Queen said...

Hmm, you met an honest Abe who admitted his mistake. So, it was your lucky day. :)

Don't you wish that more cabbies are like him? I've always had pretty good cab-drivers and to thank them, the least I could do is say, "Thank you and keep the change."

Mooms said...

What was he like when he said he wasn't charging? Was he smiley and friendly, or was he brusque? If the former, then he was just being nice lor.

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aina said...

did you note down the name of that taxi uncle? he deserves a compliment letter! =)