The Taximan's Story

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THE TAXIMAN’S STORY By Catherine Lim

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Very good, madam. Sure, will take you there in plenty good time for your meeting, madam. This way better, less traffic, less car jams. Half hour should make it, madam, so not worry. What is it you say, madam? Yes, yes, ha, ha, been taxi man for twenty years not, madam. Long time ago, Singapore not like this-so crowded so busy. Last time more peaceful, not so much taxi man, or so much cars and buses.

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Yes, madam, can make a living. So so. What to do. Must work hard if wants to success in Singapore. People like us, no education, no capital for business; we must sweat to earn money for wife and children. Yes, madam, quite big family-eight children, six sons, two daughter. Big family! Ha! Ha! No good, madam. In those days, where got Family Planning in Singapore? People may born many, many children, every year, one child. Is no good at all. Today is much better. Two children, enough, stop. Our government say stop.

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Lucky for me, all my children big now. Four of my sons working-one a businessman, two clerks, one-a teacher in Primary School, one in National Service, one still schooling, in Secondary Two. My eldest daughter, she is twenty plus, stays at home, help the mother. No, not married yet-Very shy, and her health is not good, but a good, obedient girl my other girl-Oh, madam! Very hard for father when daughter is no good and go against her parents. Very sad, like punishment from God. Today, young people not like us when we are young. We obey. Our parents say don’t do this, we never do. Otherwise, the cane. My father cane me, I was big enough to be married, and still, got caning. My father was very strict, and that is good thing for parents to be strict. If not, young boys and girls become very useless. Do not want to study, but run away, go to night clubs and take drugs and make love.

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You agree with me, madam? Today, young people they are very trouble to their parents. Madam, you see this young people over there, outside the coffee house? See what I mean, madam? They are only schoolboys and schoolgirls, but they act like big shots, spending money, smoking, wearing latest fashion, and making love. Ah, madam, I know, I know! As taximan, I know them and their habits. Madam, you are a teacher, you say? You know or not that young schoolgirls, fifteen, sixteen years old, they go to school in the morning in their uniforms and then after school, they don’t go home, they have clothes in their schoolbag, and they go to public lavatory or hotel and change into these clothes, and they put make-up in their face.

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Their parents never know. They tell their Mum got school meeting, got sports and games, this, that, but they really come out and play the fool. Ah, madam, I see you surprise, but I know, I know all their tricks. I take them about in my taxi. They usual is in bowling alley or coffee house or hotel, and they walk up, and friend, friend, the European and American tourists, this is how they make fun and also extra money. Madam, you believe or not when I tell you how much money they got? I say? Last night, madam, this young girl, very pretty and made-up, and wear sexy dress, she told me take her to Orchid Mansions-this place is famous, madam, fourth floor flat- and she open her purse to pay me and I say! All American notes-ten dollar notes all and she pull one and say keep change as she has no time already.

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Madam, I tell you this, every month, I get more money from those young girls and their American and European boyfriends in my taxi, more than I get from other people who bargain and may don’t want to go by meter and wait even for ten cents change. Phuil! Some of them really make me mad. But these young girls and their boyfriends don’t bargain, they just pay, pay, and they make love in taxi so much they don’t know if you go round and round and charge them by meter! I tell you, madam, some of them don’t care how much they spend on taxis. It is like this: after 1 a.m. taxi fare double and I prefer working this time, because naturally, much more money.

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I go and wait outside Elroy Hotel or Tung Court or Orchid Mansions, and sure enough, madam, will have plenty of business. Last Saturday, madam, no joking, on one day alone I make nearly one hundred fifty dollars! Some of it for services. Some of tourists don’t know where, so I tell them and take them there, and that’s extra money. Ah, madam, if I tell you all, no end of the story. But I will tell you this, madam. If you have young daughter, and she say, Mummy, I got meeting today in school and will not come home, you must not say Yes, yes but you must go and ask her where and why and who, and you find out. Today young people not to trust, like young people in many years ago.

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Oh, madam, I tell you because I myself have a daughter-oh, madam, a daughter I love very much, and she is so good and study hard. And I see her report cards and her teacher write “Good Work” and “Excellent” so on, so on. Oh, madam, she is my favorite child, I ask her what she want to be after left to school, and she says go to University. None of my other children could go to University, but this one, she is very smart and intelligent-no boasting, madam-her teachers write “Good” and “Excellent” so on, so on in her report card. She study at home, and help the mother, but sometimes, a little lazy, and she say teacher want her to go back to school to do extra work, extra coaching, in her weak subject, which is math, madam. So I let her stay back in school and day after day she come home in evening, then she do her studies and go to sleep.

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Then one day, oh madam, it makes me so angry even now-one day, I in my taxi driving, driving along and hey! I see a girl looking like my Lay Choo, with other girls and some Europeans outside a coffee-house but I think, it can not be Lay Choo, how Lay Choo is in school, and this all dressed up and make-up, and very bold in her behavior, and this is not like my daughter at all. Then they go inside the coffee-house, and my heart is very, very-how you describe it, madam, my heart is very “susah hati” and I say to myself, I will watch that Lay Choo and see her monkey tricks. The next day, she is there again I stop my taxi, madam, and I am so angry. I rush up to this wicked daughter and I catch her by the shoulders and neck, and I slap her and she scream, but I don’t care.

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Then I drag her to my taxi and drive all the way home, and at home I thrash the stupid fool and beat her and slap her till like hell. My wife and some neighbors they pull me away, and I think if they not pull me away, I sure to kill that girl. I lock her up in her room for three days, and I ashamed to tell her teacher, so I just tell the teacher that Lay Choo is sick, so please to excuse her. Oh, madam, how you feel in place? Make herself so cheap, when her father drive taxi all day to save money for her University.

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What is it, madam? Yes, yes, everything okay now, thank you. She cannot leave the house except go to school, and I tell her mother always check, check in everything she do, and her friends-what sort of people they are…What madam? Oh sorry, madam cannot wait for you to finish your meeting. Must go off, please excuse me. In a hurry, madam/ must go off to Hotel Elroy-there are plenty of young people to pick up. So very sorry,, madam, and thank you very much.