Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

The Cab Driver

Yesterday midnight I shared a cab with two exchange students, Alan and Merel, because the Jurong East Modification Project was so bad it disrupted train services and we couldn’t make it in time for the last bus.

Coincidentally the halls we live in were next to each other, so I just have to drop both of them off at a bus stop earlier before proceeding to mine, which is barely a five-minute walk away.

Before Alan and Merel alighted, the cab fare came to around $4.60, which I thought I’d just cover when I alight later.

The fare’s on me, I turned around and said. Alan piped up first and said no he’ll just pay his share, and Merel nodded in agreement. So I made them pay me $2 each, on their¬†insistence.

Shortly after both of them alighted the cab and shut the doors behind them, the cab driver chided me for being too friendly with foreigners. I didn’t really give a flying flagnog about what he said until he mentioned that foreigners are “heartless and don’t know how to appreciate things”.

I was pissed. But I didn’t explode right in his face considering that it was his hands that were on the wheels and not mine. He went on and on, blithefully ignoring the growing anger and flashes of red on my face, about how we shouldn’t be too nice to them because they’ll leave Singapore afterall and forget about us.

* * *

Is that really what the Singapore hospitality is about? I know he is probably just a sore thumb sticking out from the friendly local populace – I am not a local per se, because I was born in Malaysia and just happened to land a place in a Singapore secondary school almost a decade ago. I’ve been living in this island country ever since.

During my early years, it was the very helpful locals that made life so much easier and pleasant for me.

I could still remember how a very friendly cab driver actually talked to my friend’s father over my mobile because I couldn’t tell him the address of a place that I wanted to go.

I could never forget how I stopped strangers in school, in public places, in MRT stations and even on buses and trains to ask for directions. They helped me out, and some even accompanied me to the location before they had to leave.

* * *

Back to the cab, the ordeal lasted for around 30 seconds. I felt like riding on a moral high horse and give him a good lashing about how his perceptions about exchange students were wrong, and that we should very more help them out when they’re in need because the whole Singapore experience is still a very alien and unfamiliar concept to them.

I counted 4 $2 bills out of my wallet, placed it in his hands and got off before he could return me my 50 cents change.

I didn’t need it from a xenophobic person like him.

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