220 Parting Shot:
On sharing a ride
To get a car or rely on public transportation? It’s the age-old question expats freshly arrived in Singapore ask themselves. My husband is lucky enough to have a shuttle that takes him directly to the CBD and back home. I am lucky enough to call a cab at least twice a day, to and from work. And by “lucky”, I mean I get to experience the joy of travelling with total strangers twice a day. That’s right, after being taught to never speak to strangers on the internet or get into cars with them, I now use the internet to summon strangers to drive me places.
I’ve had the same experiences you’ve had: drivers who pump their brakes, making me want to projectile vomit; drivers who are asleep on the 4.30am trip to the airport; drivers who want to know how much rent we pay, why I’m going to the doctor, why we don’t have children; drivers who tell me not to eat chilli crab after my surgery because crabs will get into the wound and infect me. (True story!)
Yesterday was a whole new experience. When I called for a cab, I received a message saying, “Hi how many pax? And if u don’t mind my wife is sitting in the passenger seat?”
I replied I was just one person and got the response “U mind?” to which I responded, “That’s fine.” I won’t lie, I expected an uncle with a little auntie sitting shotgun … if only.
The car arrived. I got into the car on the passenger side, rear door. Sitting in the front was a very young, very short, very pissed-off lady who had the seat pushed back as far as possible. I bumped my knees getting into the car but the seat did not move. The tension inside that car was as thick as the humidity outside. When we got to the first intersection, the driver asked which way he should turn. I then realised the “wife” was using his phone so there was no GPS available. She was doing a hard stare at the phone. He kept touching her leg and trying to make eye contact, and she kept brushing him off and refusing to meet his gaze. He was whispering apologies and she was completely ignoring him. The one-sided conversation only became two-sided as I gave him directions to get me home and end the brutal ride.
It was too much for my overactive imagination. I texted my husband with the lowdown and he got into the spirit of the conjecture game. The winning story was this: she wants an afternoon date. He says he has to work. She thinks he’s cheating on her, so she says, “That’s fine, I’ll go with you”. And now she is literally riding around all day, doing nothing.
We’ll never know what the true story was, but I do know that if a cab asks if it is okay if their spouse rides along, maybe ask a question in return: “Is it okay with your spouse if I ride along?”