02 February 2005

Conversations with the Taxi Driver

I rode a cab going to work this morning, and did small talk with the 50s-something driver (although I think I read somewhere that you shouldn't be talking with the person driving the car for safety reasons :-)). After a while, he received a call from his wife and they talked in a local dialect I was not familiar with. After hanging up, his phone went dead. He proceeded to turn it on again and remarked that his phone has been defective ever since his kid playfully threw it. He then talked about his consulting somebody who repairs mobile phones and he was advised to simply replace the batteries.

"But I don't have the money for it yet. I trust the guy. If it was somebody else, they'd pretend to repair it when all it needs is a battery change," he added.

He then proceeded to tell an interesting story of how he met his friend. He was in the FTI area when he chanced upon a guy who was being held-up and was stabbed. The criminal got away, his victim slouched helplessly on the pavement. A crowd was starting to form, but they weren't doing anything to help. This driver carried the victim to his cab and drove him to the nearest hospital.

"I thought he was going to die. He was breathing so shallowly."

In the hospital, he asked for the identification of the victim and drove off to report the incident to the wife. He also escorted the wife to the hospital. When the victim got well, they searched the driver's home to express their thanks. They've been good friends ever since.

***

I took another cab in going home tonight. I remarked that his taxi was new.

"It is new, but the boundary is high." It was 1,560 pesos.
"This cab runs for 24 hours," he added.
"So what time does your shift end?", I asked.
"A bit later. This cab stays with me for 24 hours straight."

Whoa. That was surprising news to me. He drives 24 hours, and then another person drives it for the next 24 hours. And then it would be his turn again. He was actually able to save up and buy a tricycle. This is being used by his brother for additional income as well.

He said he has two kids. Both of them are in college now, but the younger one had to stop schooling as his eldest is now in fourth year. It is the most expensive year yet and he cannot afford to send them both to school. Aside from his family, he also supports his other siblings.

"I've been driving for seven years now, and frankly I'm getting quite tired."

But he has to go on. And you can see his resolve in getting through with life, and persevere.
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