Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hope and despair

Today's taxi driver, Ken, vehemently disagreed with yesterday's (Eric) about 70% of passengers being rude. Ken's verdict was that Eric must be unhappy inside, and projecting that onto his passengers; why, Ken greets his with a happy smile and wave and "then they will be gentle even if they are sad". This conversation also revealed the interesting fact that often people will tell Ken their secrets because he doesn't know his passengers' names.

Ken, the optimist, who learned his English from watching TV, had more reason than Eric to be cynical about human nature. Once he was attacked and robbed by an illegal immigrant while walking with his family in Shek O; and once, incredibly, a passenger he described as "a lunatic" poured sulphuric acid over his head. It was cold that day and he was wearing a hat and thick cream because of his eczema, so miraculously he was unscarred.

I learn so much from taxi drivers (including, again today, guidance on Cantonese pronunciation) that it's a source of some regret that there's such a massive price differential between the bus and a cab fare and no real advantage in terms of speed. I also get travel sick in cabs, especially on the winding and precipitous route back to Stanley, but today it was almost worth it.

6 comments:

nmj said...

Hey Lottie, I'd be delighted to have Eric or Ken - they sound fascinating. The last taxi driver I got - dour Edinburgh guy - was rude and incommunicative and didn't even drop me at my door, I had to walk a block, I was fuming as I had a heavy holdall.

LottieP said...

Hello, NMJ. I certainly have memories of spectacularly unfriendly cab drivers, in both Edinburgh and London. Ken's take on Eric was that he himself must view taxi driving as a lowly occupation, which is why he was convinced his pasengers didn't respect him. Some of the cab drivers I met in the UK seemed, conversely, to have a complete lack of respect for their passengers.

Lucky Ken's cab-half-full approach is definitely preferable...

Grande Poobah said...

i think cabbies in the uk have been forever reframed after that bloke who won mastermind - what's his name again?

I do like the zen approach of cabbie 2 tho

mancsoulsister said...

A wise German once told me 'how you shout from the mountain, so comes back your echo!'...

Mummy said...

I used to love talking to taxi drivers in China, when they spoke English, about politics and business. Maybe it was just the ones who spoke English, but they were very cynical about the state of play as a result of the economic developments.

I had a mad drive to the airport in Singapore once with a man who, when finding out I had a degree in Theology, spent the whole journey trying to convert my to Suffism.

And, today, on the way to the airport in Singapore again, quite unusually the taxi driver slagged off the ruling Singaporean family for being mean and tight and nepotistic. It was rather refreshing.

LottieP said...

Agreed, Mummy; Singapore taxi drivers are entirely different, but usually friendly - the real danger in either city comes from drivers of advanced years who probably should not be on the road.