My Awkward Relationship with Taxi Uncles

Uploaded by: michelpiz

Last friday night.

Jin was heading towards Bugis, and I was going to Shaw Towers along Beach Road. We decided to share a GrabTaxi and split the cost.

7.32pm: Taxi uncle arrives to pick us up from the office lobby

Me: Should I give the taxi uncle specific directions? i.e. my preferred route to take which i know will definitely be faster: KPE, exit Nicoll Highway onto Middle Road then Beach Road.

But I didn’t say anything.

7.35pm: Taxi uncle heads towards Paya Lebar

7.40pm: Taxi uncle turns right onto PIE. We get stuck in slow moving traffic.

Jin: We should’ve gone KPE instead.
Me: Ya

7.47pm: Taxi exits PIE onto KPE

In the mean time Jin and I talk about random things.

7.50pm: Taxi exits KPE onto ECP heading to Rochor

Jin: What time is your service?
Me: 8pm
Jin: Okay la still got 10mins
Me: Yup, but it means no dinner for me..

7.51pm: Taxi exits ECP at Rochor. We get stuck in slow moving traffic. Again.

3 mins felt like 10mins. Ugh.

Jin: Okay we’re reaching. But we should’ve taken the other route which means we could’ve reached earlier and prolly cheaper too

7.54pm: *Beep* ERP additional charge of 2 dollars on top of metered fare.

Me: Yup totally agree

All this while inside totally regretting that I didn’t tell the uncle which route I preferred even though I knew that the KPE-Nicoll Highway route would definitely have been faster.

Me: I totally know what to write for Clogs alr
Jin: Share leh, I won’t “bao do” one
Me: Wait, tell you when we get off
Cause i knew what i was gonna say wouldn’t be very nice to the uncle

7.55pm: Taxi arrives at the destination

Jin and i said thanks to the uncle and got off the taxi. i turned to Jin and said “managing expectations”

And that’s how this piece of writing that you’re reading now came about — managing expectations. Cause clearly I was disappointed with the ride — the jam and the amount we had to pay all cause I chose to keep silent about my expectation.

The act (or art) of managing expectations is a skill that can be applied to any job or environment we may find ourselves in throughout our lifetime. It could be managing internal expectations — working team/bosses/colleagues; external expectations — clients/vendors/partners; or even our own expectations.

Through this encounter with the taxi uncle (FYI, this isn’t my first time. I’ve been through this so many times to have known better. I should’ve said something to the uncle if I already had an expectation in mind. But yes I didn’t that night so I was disappointed), I got reminded again how important it is to manage expectations — internal, external and our own.

So, how do we manage expectations?

1. Say it — “Uncle, 可以走 KPE 然后出 Nicoll Highway 吗?”

  • If you say it, you make your expectations known to the other party.
  • We are not mind readers and neither are people around us. If we choose not to say it, then it’s our fault. We can’t expect them to know what we want without us first saying it.
  • Disclaimer: There are taxi uncles who usually ask: “小姐,你要走哪一条路呢?” and then proceed to list out options for me to choose. I appreciate this gesture loads. But I find out later on that it’s cause of a bad experience that they’ve had with nasty customers saying that they would not pay the cab fare cause the taxi uncle intentionally took the longer route to earn more money. Unreasonable? Yes I think so cause I genuinely don’t believe that taxi uncles would do that (IMHO, but you might beg to differ).
  • This emphasizes the point again: If you have a preferrred route, SAY IT. I’m sure most taxi uncles would be okay with going by your preferred route if you actually choose to say it.

2. Understand the other party’s stand/opinion — “Ah girl ah, but just now the radio say KPE jam, i think we take PIE might be faster”

  • The taxi uncle states his opinion and his recommendation.
  • From this we can understand why he has recommended a different route from my preferred one.
  • If the taxi uncle doesn’t explain why he recommends the other route, I would usually ask just so I can be clear why he is recommending another route — “Uncle, 是不是应为 KPE jam?”
  • I don’t see any harm in asking why or finding out more cause to me, I expect them to be in tuned with the traffic conditions on the road. They are supposed to be experts in their job.
  • Anyway, what’s the worse that can happen? You get kicked off the cab cause the taxi uncle die die don’t want to go by your preferred route. If that does happen, then just hop onto another cab.
  • But at least i know the reason behind his decision — this always helps me understand his decision

3. Make a decision and be prepared to accept the consequences of it — Inside voice that says, “If there is a jam, then no choice”

  • After both parties state their expectations, the time has come for the passenger, to make the decision — “Uncle, 我们还是走 KPE 出 Nicoll Highway 吧” OR “okay uncle, 就听你的走 PIE 吧”
  • Whichever decision I make, I need to be prepared to accept the consequences of it — if there was jam on either route, assuming that it was unpredicted, it would be okay because both the taxi uncle and I have the understanding that a decision was made after both parties shared their opinions.
  • I would have been mentally prepared and not be disappointed with the taxi uncle cause I know how and why the decision was made decision.

Of course last friday night, this whole process did not take place because I chose to not say it and made assumptions. Clearly Jin and I were disappointed with the time taken to get to Bugis and the fare we paid

Not that it was super expensive, but it could’ve been cheaper.

Looking back, I think the taxi uncle would probably have been disappointed/hurt too after hearing the conversation Jin and I had in the car about how the other route could’ve been faster.

Or he is probably so used to this he is numb to it altogether 🤷🏼‍♀️

But this 25min experience reminded me again how important it is to manage expectations and avoid disappointments. I believe as human beings we would have failed many times in our lives, and disappointed many people along the way (ourselves included). But if we could manage expectations better, perhaps we will go through scenarios like these lesser and better spend our emotions somewhere else? 🤔

As a 3 month old full fledge account servicing suit, I need this advice myself everyday, wait, no, everytime i communicate (text/email/call/etc). I’m pretty sure I have disappointed many along the way — external clients, internal clients, and myself. But i’m thankful to be in an environment where even if i fall, the people around me help pick me up, dust off the dirt and choose to continue walking this journey with me 🙆🏼

Big shout out to the carbon team that has been ever so supportive #teamcarbonftw

So I do hope reading this has helped you in some way as much as it has helped me. If you have other tips on how to better manage expectations, do share. I would love to hear your experiences.

*P.S. No taxi drivers were harmed physically in the production of this article. Emotional harm might have been caused — unintentional of course. Oops :p

Bonus advice:
Once you learn something, apply it immediately. Cause guess what, I found myself in the same situation on Saturday AGAIN, but this time with a GrabCar driver 😪