08 December 2013

Lessons from the backseat

Cab rides are expensive especially here in Singapore and it is even more expensive during peak hours. However, I still need to take the cab sometimes when I am too lazy to get up for work, feeling feverish but need to show my face to my boss, or when I am too tired to take the night bus to get back home after a long night. The price I pay sometimes is worth much less than the lessons I get.

In one of those long nights, I came back home early in the morning. The cabby told me that I become who I hang out with. So he was literally saying I will degrade into rubbish if hang out with rubbish. I felt a smack in the head. It took a while before I understood him. I am glad that the lessons have remained intact even after it shook me.

One morning on my way to work, the cabby picked up a call through his headset in a very flirty voice. I was not sure if he was talking to a young girlfriend or baby-talking his daughter. Later after his call ended, he told me he was talking to his wife. I was surprised. He has been with his wife for at least 50 years since they've known each other since they were kids. He showed me a photo of his family. In it was his three beautiful daughters, his lovely wife and him in his long black curls. They've been married for years more than my toes and fingers could count. He asked about me and found out that I was single. He said I should not put my eyes too high on my forehead. His unsolicited remark poke an arrow through my chest since I was not sure if I was looking in the right places.

Last week, I rode a cab to work because I was too tired to get up early. Stress was getting into my nerves and I was almost lifeless in the backseat until the cabby asked me if I was from the Philippines. It was easy to tell because he was married to a Filipina from Isabela. I have heard of this place in the north but have never been there. He talked about how difficult it was to always travel to his wife's town because she could not easily come back to Singapore for some legal reason. His son is far away from him too. I felt his pain. But then he was too cheerful that I had forgotten how difficult it is to be away from family. He then started talking about the best lechon baboy in Cebu or the tasty spicy chicken at Jollibee. He also mentioned about a young lady in his wife's neighborhood who eloped with his boyfriend a year or two after she met him at 14. He asked several questions to find out if I was single. I told him that I am not the typical Filipina. We both laughed. Some time before he dropped me off at my office, he mentioned that he planned to go back to the Philippines to join his wife and son for good. I was happy to hear that.

If I hear about family and love and life from cabbies, I don't really mind paying the price. There seem to be a lot to learn from the backseat.

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