Taxi drivers are human too
Anyone who takes a taxi frequently enough will have a story to tell about that grumpy taxi driver who took the long way round.
Or the one who wasn't sure of the directions, but would never admit it.
I know, because I too, have mine.
But over the weekend, we got a up-close-and-personal view of what it is like on the other side.
A video that went viral over the weekend showed a driver bearing the brunt of a passenger's demeaning words.
I contacted the passenger, but the 31-year-old would only say that he intends to apologise to the taxi driver in person, before he stopped responding to my queries altogether.
This was confirmed by taxi operator ComfortDelGro. The driver, however, is uncomfortable about meeting the passenger again, the taxi operator said.
National Taxi Association's executive adviser Mr Ang Hin Kee said such cases of prolonged abuse are more unusual.
As for other "varying degrees of unreasonableness", most cabbies have come to accept them as part and parcel of a day job, said the MP, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport.
But verbal abuse is insidious, and can take a toll on the drivers emotionally, as MP Gan Thiam Poh, who sits on the same committee, pointed out.
Many of these taxi drivers are fathers who work long shifts just to provide for their family.
What if the driver in the video was your father, subjected to this again and again just so he could put you through years of schooling?
It must be up to us to calibrate a new relationship with taxi drivers, one based on mutual respect.
A pleasant and fuss-free journey takes two hands to clap.
The cabby will take you to your destination no matter what. But he will be more compelled to do his utmost if you make the effort to be polite and appreciative.
So the next time a taxi driver makes a wrong turn or takes a longer route than the one you're used to, don't be quick to flare up and assume he is out to fleece you.
Just because you're paying for his services doesn't make him less of a human being than you are.
- FOO JIE YING