220 Part­ing Shot:

On shar­ing a ride

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Contents - BY KELLI SHOE­MAKER

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?”

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