Catajan: The wisdom of the taxi driver

Maria Elena Catajan

IT IS said that if you want to know the pulse of the people, listen to taxi drivers.

I was riding a calibrated taxi cab and hoping against hope it would not reach monstrous proportions like the horror stories I have heard the past weeks.

The taxi driver meekly told me as I was embarking that his meter has been calibrated as if asking me if I really wanted to take the ride, I was rushing and had grocery bags in too and so having no choice, bravely said, yes to the calibrated ride.

An honest man, I thought, so what the heck.

The cab driver said it is inevitable that all cabs will be calibrated at some point, explaining the LTFRB now calibrates at random, rather than the schedule earlier presented, so avoiding taxi plates ending in 1-2-3, does not really cut it now.

Calibrated cabs are everywhere.

It is now common knowledge that to ride a taxi is like throwing away hard earned mullah for the continence of a private ride and the cumbersome task of walking.

If you have been living under a rock for the past months and do not know what the hullabaloo is all about, let me be the one to break the bad news; the meter of the cab will add P13.50 per kilometer with an added P2.00 per minute as you go along your way, oblivious of time and space.

The cab driver rued his predicament saying the hike in fare does not really translate into an added income for drivers, saying the boundary of each has also been upped by operators.

He surmised with the increase in fare, the riding public would now think twice before riding a cab, giving them a decrease in riders and ultimately, make life harder of drivers in the long run.

I was in a chatty mood that day and the cabbie’s jovial tone made me want to talk to him, if only to take my mind off the taxi meter.

The driver said with the increase in taxi fare, a corresponding increase in salaries should be set forth, to level the field for everyone.

He said only the policemen were given a substantial increase in salaries and he suspected that taxpayers will, for a long time, be paying for the Duterte-approved salary hike for the nation’s finest.

My cabbie said any hike in price should be done in a staggered pace, so that ordinary people don’t get a heart attack.

He now alluded to the wisdom of North Korea, with only one leader being followed and a seeming equality for all, comparing it to life in China, which he said, he sometimes wished for.

He said he did not vote for Duterte but instead for his favorite actor’s daughter, Grace Poe.

He said it is sad that Poe lost to the strongman; she could have served the country better as he believed instead of the present leader who can badmouth even the Pope.

A sensible man, my cabbie was, I thought.

The driver then launched into a speech on who was the richest in the city, pointing to the members of a local mall and grocery chain and concluding what a charmed life the led.

He said the luxury cars one family member owned before his death were a sight to behold as well as a puzzle to figure out why the BIT did not give a fuss out of it.

Then he remembered the fate that befell one of the family, a grisly murder unsolved till today, and said you can’t really have it all.

The ride ended after 10 minutes, spanning 4 kilometers, there was no traffic, and the cabbie printed me a receipt and walked me through how to compute if my fare was correct.

It was accurate to the last peso.