Minggu, 28 Oktober 2012

A Chatty Driver: to Love or to Hate?

This blog is also an expression of my disappointment. Reading this second post, you may find the content contradicting to my first post already. But, whatever. Yesterday I had one of the most annoying experiences with a taxi driver and I was reminded that they are not always heroes.

More often than not, I tend to hate taxi drivers that talk too much. Some of my friends, however, have the opposite opinion. They’d say that being with a friendly driver who loves to talk would make them feel safer, especially if it’s night time. It means that there's a big chance that their life’s in the right hand. Yeah right.

Well, hear me out. Not all taxi drivers who love to chat so much are good people. I have had a lot of upsetting encounters with these folks that has finally confirmed my conclusion that a quiet and dutiful taxi driver is the best type of its kind.

One encounter that I still clearly remember is this taxi driver that drove me from Gedung Kesenian Jakarta to my office in Kemang. Right after I sat down and closed the passenger door, he started a conversation. It was a fun conversation at first. He threw lots of jokes and I laughed a lot. Who would’ve thought that he took that as a sign that I was ‘easy’?? He started to look at the back seat, at me, a lot with a judging look and a smile that gave me goosebumps. I was hoping that I didn’t somehow trapped with a psycho like in ‘The Bone Collector’ movie. Well, he started to sit in a slouchy manner with his seat pulled back, drove recklessly (he took the lane meant for vehicles from the opposite direction), and he was not funny anymore when tried to find out from me about bars in Kemang. It was night time and it turned out that he thought that I was one of ‘those girls’ who went to Kemang to hang out in one of its ‘crazy’ bars. He asked annoying questions such as, “I heard that the girls at the bars in Kemang are wild…” and he looked at me with a creepy smile when he said that. I felt like I want to slap his face with my bag.

I was so upset. First, I was heading to my office. Secondly, I didn’t dress up like those bars’ tacky ‘ayams’. Thirdly, I deserve respect from those whose salary is paid because I took their taxi. I was a customer they should look after. If I could laugh, they should take that as a bonus. The fact that a passenger could laugh isn’t supposed to be something that could make any taxi driver think that the passenger was an easy bar chick.

Of course, I started to give cold responses. I told him that I was going back to my office, which is a magazine, where I work as a JOURNALIST. I ignored him after that, to let the word sink in. It still got me really emotional each time I think about it.

From other encounters, I’ve also learned that a taxi driver could be chatty to hide the fact that he’s sleepy. Once I asked a driver whose driving ability was totally questionable that night. He hit the brakes a lot although the street was quiet. But he just couldn’t admit that he’s sleepy. Really upset, I asked him to stop the taxi and drop me off. He insisted that he was alright. I arrived safely at home but it wasn’t an enjoyable journey if you ask me.

I guess most taxi passengers who just worked for 14 hours with a headache and a back pain from sitting too long in front of a computer would agree with me. We’d be really grateful if we could just have a taxi driver who could refrain from talking, knows the street so well so that we could just trust him and sleep in the passenger seat.

Minggu, 03 Juni 2012

Taxi in Jakarta

You see, driving in Jakarta is hell. This is the city where people who can't drive are allowed to drive. By paying only Rp 400,000 (around 40 US$), without having to follow a specific training and a fair test, one can attain their driving license. So imagine the chaos. 

Lots of people are still brave enough to jump onto the overly crowded streets with their vehicles though, just to hate the traffic and the rule-bending-and-law-breaking drivers right away. It is inevitable to get mad in the traffic mayhem.

Being too scared to hit (or being hit by) other vehicles, I've long decided to count a lot on public transportation. I'm not making this up. My bad physical coordination can generate a utter destructive power. There are thousands of lives (including mine) that have probably been saved with me holding myself back from sitting behind the wheel. I'd jump in my seat whenever another vehicle passed. I can never tell whether or not my foot hit the gas or the brake. When my mind says 'left', my hands turn the steering wheel to the right. It's life threatening. And I could never prevent my mind from traveling to faraway places automatically whenever I got stressed. So by far public transport is my best option.

My experiences with taxi drivers are quite many. I go everywhere by taxi on a daily basis. Well, mostly. Sometimes I'd go by angkot (small cars, painted in various colours and used for public transportation), buses (including the famous Trans Jakarta or busway), bajaj (Jakarta's notorious orange-colored, three-wheeled vehicle famous for its sudden maneuvers and deaf driver), and of course ojek (a sort of taxi bike). Talking about the latter, to take one of them you'd want to consider to have life insurance, especially if you are someone with a family. My experiences involve fatal accidents that almost took my life away. This is obviously the right public transport mode for suicidals.

From all types of transport in Jakarta to choose, taxi is the most expensive. But at least, using it until now I still have my body parts intact. This blog is an expression of my gratitude.

Jakarta street, oh yeah
my hero
my heroes
my hero