Archive | June, 2010

Cab Story #5: The retired one

30 Jun

Ever since my encounter with the suspicious one, I’ve been calling for cabs instead of hailing them from the roadside. Yes, I have to pay extra RM2, but I’d rather be a little poorer at the end of the month than to sit in a cab feeling paranoid.

So today I called Comfort Cab and requested for a cab. The operator on the other end said the cab is on the way and she would call me back when it arrives.

After 15 minutes, I was still sitting on the couch waiting for her call.

Feeling rather annoyed, I called her back and asked her where’s the cab. She put me on hold. Forced to listen to crappy waiting music. She comes back and says cab will be here in 10 mins.

10 mins later, I was still sitting on the couch, waiting for the cab that was coming from New York.

I called her back. Forced to listen to crappy waiting music. She comes back and says cab will be here in 3mins and hung up on me.

Realising that Comfort Cab will give me no comfort whatsoever, I decided to go hail a cab.

I got a cab immediately after I walked out and it was a cina pek. (old Chinese man)

So I started ranting to him about the crappy service and the long waiting time I had just experienced. And he said “on the way” is misleading. He went on to talk about how some drivers are unethical, accepting a call when they’re nowhere near the area.

Eventually, he asked the ever popular question, “Why don’t you buy a car?”

So I told him I was waiting for my car, and we got into a conversation about interest rates and how a car is a necessity these days. He said back in his time, people took the bus and interest rates for car loans were really high, more than 10%.

After we’re done talking about cars, he asked about my job and what I studied back in uni. And he was surprised to know that English is my first language. He spoke really good English too, definitely educated in a mission school. He then tested my knowledge on BM pantuns, which I didn’t do too well. Haha.And he said, “You forget because the nature of your job doesn’t require you to berpantun. That is normal.” Such a philosophical cabbie.

As we continued talking, I found out that he used to work in a factory. And then he retired. After retirement, he felt bored sitting at home and decided to drive a cab. His 2 sons have graduated from TAR college and are working in Kajang and Sultan Ismail right now. He said he doesn’t really have to work, but he thinks he will go crazy if he just sits at home all day. (And here I am thinking that retiring young is a great thing.)

We reached Solaris Mont Kiara and took out my purse to pay him. We both looked at the meter and the fare was RM0. Haha! Turned out that he forgot to switch on the meter at the start of the journey! So he said just pay whatever I usually pay. I did, and I added RM2 as a tip for the enjoyable ride. I’ll just make that my random act of kindness for today.

Cab Story #4: The shocking one

17 Jun

This post is delayed because I was in Singapore over the weekend and was sick for the past 3 days. Probably my body couldn’t take the sudden change from being in a 1st world country to a 3rd world country in 45 minutes.

Last Friday, one of my regular cabbies, Mr.Lan, called me around 8pm. He was in Mont Kiara and called to check if I wanted to go home. I did. So 10 minutes later I was in the cab to go home.

So we started the journey with the usual talk about the day’s customers, and suddenly I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought I heard wrongly so I asked Mr. Lan to repeat himself. And this was what he said:

“Boleh tak pinjam RM700? Kad ATM saya sangkut dalam mesin. Esok bini saya kena balik kampung. Boleh tak you pinjam dulu? I bagi you photostat IC saya. Saya mesti bayar balik.”

I was silent for awhile. I already knew what I was going to answer. Of course I wasn’t going to lend him the money. But I was afraid that if I told him that outright, he wouldn’t send me home… or maybe he would force me to go to the nearest ATM to withdraw the money for him. So I did the lamest thing. I pretended not to understand.

“Ha? Pinjam duit? Kenapa?”

“Ya. Biasanya, saya tak minta customer macam ini. Bini saya pun kata saya tak malu ke, tanya you minta duit. Tapi saya dah call saudara semua, tak ada orang boleh tolong. I pun ingat kat you la. You macam orang baik. Kita sudah jadi macam kawan…”

WHOA! Hold it right there mister. We are not friends. We are just regulars in the cabbie ecosystem. I don’t know your birthday, your last name, and which school did you go to… and I would like to keep it that way.

While all those thoughts were running through my head, he went on talking…

“Saya mesti bayar balik. You jangan takut. Saya pun segan minta tolong you. Tapi, apa boleh buat. Kad ATM sudah tak ada.”

I was thinking… ok, I will just delay telling him my answer until we are near home…which is like, 10 mins away. I continued in dumb blonde mode.

“Kad ATM kena makan? Macam mana? Bank apa?”

“Maybank”

“You tak ada buku akaun? Boleh guna buku ambil duit.”

“Sudah hilang la”

“Oh. Tak ada orang dalam bank tolong you?”

“Tadi itu sudah 4.30pm. Semua sudah balik. Saya telepon bank. Dia kata tunggu Isnin baru boleh bagi kad baru. Saya pun tak tau macam mana sekarang.”

7 mins to go.

“Oh. Saya pernah dengar kes macam ini lah. You ada nampak tak…mesin itu ada pelekat? Mungkin ada orang nak curi kad you.”

6 mins to go. Crap. The lights turned red.

“Curi kad ATM?”

I quickly steered the conversation towards the bank scams that are happening today. From online scams to ATM robberies and the like. Trying to avoid answering him until I reached home.

Thankfully, I reached home. And after I paid, I said “Sorry, tak boleh tolong you. Harap you dapat kad you balik. Selamat jalan.”

I’ve heard of cases like this before – where cab drivers ask to borrow money from their regular customers because they’ve been “friends” for awhile.

Of course he may have been genuinely desperate. Maybe he wasn’t trying to con me. But I’m not going to payRM700 to find out. (That’s one month’s travelling expenses!)

Well, one thing for sure, I’m never going to call Mr.Lan again, nor will I answer any of his calls.

In fact, I’m never going to call my cab drivers directly anymore. From now onwards, I’d rather put up with rude telephone operators and call a cab to avoid these “friendships”, even if it means spending extra RM2 per trip.

Cab story #3: The very lou-hei one

9 Jun

My regular cabbies were stuck in the jam, so I had no choice but to hail a cab.

At first, I was relieved I managed to get a cab in the rain. But right after I’d informed the cab driver of my destination, I wished I was still standing in the rain. That’s because the first thing he said was, “Raining ah. You don’t pay me extra RM2 I cannot move.”

Blardy ass.

Since I didn’t want to get out again, I said ok.

Then I proceeded to give him directions, “Uncle, use the highway.”

He replied rather rudely, “Highway? Then you should go the other direction, not this way! This way to the highway is very far!

I wanted to tell him that I’ve been using this direction  for the past 2 and a half months but my limited Cantonese vocab didn’t allow me to say that. So I insisted on using my way. Needless to say, Mr.Grouchy wasn’t happy about it.

“Ok lah! You want to use the long way, you like lah!”

Blardy hell! Already charging me extra, want to act smart some more!

He then grumbled about the rain, the jam, the “long” way I’m taking him. But when we reached the road that led to the highway, he realised that I was right. Instead of apologising, he said, “Ha! This way is shorter… but not much shorter also leh.”

I was smacking him in my head by now.

After some distance of silence, he asked what was I doing so far from home. And I replied I work at Solaris. Bad idea. He started nagging me.

“Ha! You every day take cab like that your money earn for what! All no more lah! Why you don’t work near LRT station? Can take LRT mah. Like that you work also no use lah.”

Of course money no more lah! If every cab driver charges extra like you!

I chose to ignore him. He ignored my lack of response and continued talking.

“What you work as ah? Have to work so far away one.”

“I work in a web design company. We design websites.”

“Ha? Website? What is that?”

“…” How to explain? In Cantonese some more!

“Is  it the cybercafe? The gambling one? Is a shop?”

“No! Not cybercafe! Not for gambling! It’s not a shop! We make the things you see in the computer when you go online, in the cybercafe!”

“Oh. Not gambling shop. Then ah, I want to ask ah… Is buying things online safe? Will get cheated ah?”

“Er, you have to take the necessary precautions la. If you see the site looks fishy, then don’t buy la.”

“How I know it is fishy?”

“Well, if many of your friends bought stuff from that site before, and they had no problems, then it should be ok la”

“Oh. What if ah, the thing come already, but is spoil one. Then cannot claim loh?”

“Er, yea, most probably cannot.”

“HAIYO! Like that buy for what?!”

“…”

“LIKE THAT IF I BUY SOMETHING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS THEN NO USE HOW? WASTED LOR!” (Yes, he was shouty)

“Uncle, of course you don’t buy thousands of dollars things la. First you try buying something cheaper… like maybe a book.”

“Oh, ya ya, book is ok one hor… but then ah, if the thing never arrive how leh?”

At this point, we were reaching already. So I said, “Uncle, arrive already. You can stop me here.”

The fare came to RM16. The toll charges were RM 1 and the “raining fee” was RM2. So the total amount came up to RM19. I gave him RM20, and waited for my change. If he hadn’t been such an ass about the extra RM2, I would have asked him to keep the change. In fact, he was lucky I didn’t charge him for teaching him about e-commerce!

Cab Story #2: The enterprising one

8 Jun

I have about 3 cab drivers whom I call regularly to send me home. I rotate between these 3 cab drivers equally so everyone has the chance to earn my money.

It was 8.00pm. I called one of my regular cab drivers to send me home.

“Hello Encik Azmi. Ada tak dekat Solaris? Nak balik ke Sri Rampai.”

“Hello Ah Moi! Saya cuti empat hari lah. Di Langkawi sekarang. Tak boleh hantar you.”

“Eh, best nyer. Takpelah. You enjoy lah. Bye”

“Bye”

So, I called the next one.

“Hello Encik Lan. Ada tak dekat Solaris? Nak balik ke Sri Rampai.”

“Ada. Boleh tunggu 10 minit? Nanti I sampai I call you.”

“Ok”

10 minutes later, I was in the cab and Encik Lan started the conversation by telling me about his new part-time job.

Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, he is now a part-time driver for a Eurasian family who lives in a Jalan Gasing bungalow. Every morning, he will report for work at 9am. His main duty is to fetch the 71-year old Madam, her 65-year old sister (who suffers from Alzheimer’s) and the 98-year old matriarch to the hospital for their respective checkups. By noon, he is done, and resumes his cabbie persona. He says having this part-time job is good for him as he gets a fixed salary every month, in addition to what he earns as a cab driver. He thinks one can never be too hardworking.

This got me thinking. If a cab driver can be so enterprising, why can’t I?

Cab Story #1: The suspicious one

7 Jun

Many of my followers (on Twitter that is) have asked me to document my cab stories. I have been putting it off but today’s cab story required more than 140 characters to tell. So I’ve decided to write my 1st ever cabbie blog post.

This morning, I walked to my usual spot to wait for a cab. It’s a great spot because I can hail cabs that are coming from 3 different directions. The roads seemed extra quiet today so I contemplated walking to the main road to try my luck. But just as I was about to do so, I spotted a cab. I flagged it down. It stopped and I opened the door and said “Solaris Mont Kiara” and he said “OK”.

Then I noticed that the driver wasn’t wearing the required uniform – white shirt, black pants and black shoes. Instead, he was wearing jeans, an ugly green t-shirt and Asadi slippers. I hesitated to get in the cab. But he had agreed to take me to my destination. So I went in.

But as soon as I got in, he changed his mind and started making excuses. He said, “Mont Kiara? Banyak jauh la. Jam la. Saya tak ada cukup minyak.” I found this rather weird. Why didn’t he say so earlier? So I said, “Kalau guna Duke highway, tak ada jam. Tapi kalau you tak cukup minyak, boleh turun saya sekarang.” And he changed his mind again! He said, “Ok ok. Boleh jalan. Tol you bayar ah?” And I replied, “Ya.”

So we headed for the highway. I looked around the cab. It’s reasonably clean, but there was something   important that was missing – the driver’s permit. All cab drivers are required to display their driver’s permit. And this odd driver didn’t. At this point, I really wanted to get out of the cab. But we’re already on the highway.

Since I was stuck in the cab I decided to observe the driver’s driving skills. He seemed a bit out of practice. Like he hasn’t been driving for quite some time. Immediately I recalled the horror cab stories that other cab drivers had told me before… like how some cab drivers are prisoners who had just gotten out of prison. Or how some cab drivers are actually robbers who rob cab drivers and pretend to be cab drivers and end up robbing all the passengers. I was thinking, “SHIT. I’m going to get robbed today!”

I quickly looked in my bag for my pepper spray but it wasn’t there. Great. So I did the next best thing… I prayed. I tried to look calm. After all, we’re almost at Solaris by now.

We finally arrived. I paid and got out. I was really relieved because I spotted another suspicious thing – the paintwork on the inside of the car door doesn’t match the outside. The car’s original colour was turquoise, not red and white like the rest of the cabs.

I made a report to LPKP. Although I arrived safely, I still have this nagging feeling that he wasn’t the rightful driver of that cab. So if you see HWC 209 on the road, please do not flag it down. He might decide to confirm my suspicion and that would really suck!

Hello quarter of a century!

1 Jun

Happy 25th to me Just wanted to shout HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY to myself

A detailed blog post to come…