The only disability in life is a bad attitude. ~Scott Hamilton

I accepted a call booking for a taxi near Yio Chu Kang area. Upon my arrival, I saw a man in his early forties, standing beside my taxi with the aid of a pair of crutches. I immediately got out of the taxi to help the man, who seemed to be having some mobility impairment. The Chinese man, who looked plump, politely refused my help, and before I knew it, he had already boarded my taxi.

In the taxi, I chatted with this guy and realised that he was a part-time lecturer and was on his way to the town area to conduct his lectures. He showed me his left leg, which was amputated above the knee and fitted with a prosthetic leg. He was infected with flesh-eating bacteria in a toilet when his foot with a small wound came into contact with some sewage water. Initially he fell sick with a fever and pain, after which he consulted a doctor, who prescribed some painkillers for him. Unfortunately his condition deteriorated so fast that he fell into a coma while he was sent to the hospital. Unfortunately, the doctors have to amputate his left leg to save his life.

What I find remarkable about this man is the positive attitude displayed when I was talking to this man, he somehow manages to keep smiling in the face of adversity. I can’t find a tinge of self-pity or sadness in him. He showed full of enthusiasm talking about his work, his students and his blessings towards life.

To quote what Hubert Humphrey have said: Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts.  It’s what you do with what you have left.

27 Mar 11 An Inspirational Story to share with you

One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company.He passed the first interview, the director did the last interview, made the last decision.The director discovered from the CV that the youth’s academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not score.

The director asked, “Did you obtain any scholarships in school?” the youth answered “none.”The director asked, ” Was it your father who paid for your school fees?” The youth answered, “My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.”

The director asked, ” Where did your mother work?” The youth answered, “My mother worked as clothes cleaner.”  The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect. The director asked, ” Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?”The youth answered, “Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.”

The director said, “I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother’s hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.” The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the kid.

The youth cleaned his mother’s hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother’s hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water.

This was the first time the youth realized that …
1. it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee.
2. The bruises in the mother’s hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.

After finishing the cleaning of his mother hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother. That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the youth went to the director’s office.The Director noticed the tears in the youth’s eyes, asked: ” Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?”The youth answered, ” I cleaned my mother’s hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes.”

The Director asked, ” please tell me your feelings.” The youth said…..
Number 1, I know now what is appreciation. Without my mother, there would not the successful me today.
Number 2,by working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done.
Number 3, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.

The director said, ” This is what I am looking for to be my Manager”.
1. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others,
2. a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done,
3. and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. the director said, You are hired.

Later on, this young person worked very hard…..
1. and received the respect of his subordinates.
2. Every employee worked diligently and as a team.
3. The company’s performance improved tremendously.

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would
1. develop “entitlement mentality” and would always put himself first.
2. he would be ignorant of his parent’s efforts.
3. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager,
4. he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others.

For this kind of people, who may be good academically,
1. may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement.
2. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more.
If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the kid instead?

You can let your kid …
1. live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowl together with their brothers and sisters

It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because..
1. you want to love them in a right way.
2. you want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are,
One day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person.
The most important thing is your …
1. kid learns how to appreciate the effort and
2. experience the difficulty
3. and learns the ability to work with others to get things done.

A Strange Encounter

My taxi was caught in a traffic jam along Ang Mo Kio Ave 6 near Yio Chu Kang MRT and it was a kind of crawl stop crawl type of slow-moving traffic. As the surrounding areas did not have a pedestrian in sight, I was surprised to see a well dressed Malay man in his fifties walked towards my taxi, the man was dressed in Baju Melayu and a songkok headgear politely asked my permission before he boarded my taxi.

The Malay man told me he wanted to go to the mosque and said to me “Go straight ahead and the mosque is on the right”. I asked him if the mosque is just nearby and he nodded with a “Yes”. I started to talk to him and realized that he have just alighted from the taxi about 2 cars in front of me . I think he vaguely meant that the taxi driver have asked him to alight midway from his destination and he have paid the fare. He started to complain to me about that taxi driver who dropped him halfway just now, and mumbled words like he got friends at LTA, and they can help him to deal with that bad taxi driver. I was wondering why the last taxi driver who took him in refused to just drive that bit more distance away from his destination.

After driving for 5 minutes straight ahead and past several traffic lights, I still could not see any mosque on my right. The Malay man always told me the same thing: “Go straight and the mosque is on the right side”. I began to feel uneasy and decided to ask him where is he going and what is the name of the Mosque. To my dismay, he said he wanted to go to Mosque called Masjid Darul Ghufran at Tampines Ave 7. To be on the safe side, I checked the Street Directory for this Mosque and it was in Tampines Ave 5.

I told the Malay man that the Mosque is at Tampines Ave 5 and it is on the East side, quite far away from here, and I will reach the city if I keep going straight. I began to get nervous and suspicious of this Malay man, is he mentally ill? Maybe, I thought to myself as I now realized why the last taxi driver asked him to alight. I stopped my taxi by the side of the road, and before I could say anything, the Malay man took out his wallet and looked ready to pay me the fare, expecting me to ask him to take another taxi. I hesitated for a while and decided to ask him twice if he really wanted me to fetch him to that Mosque at Tampines and his answers are affirmative. The Malay man keep saying: “It’s Tampines Ave 5 and go straight, the Mosque is on the right” and he is late for his appointment.

I took a gamble to fetch this customer as I thought that this well dressed man may just be mentally unstable at the moment. I just kept silence throughout the journey and finally managed to bring him to the Mosque, indeed it was on the right side of the road, but not a straight road throughout the journey.

Fighting over a Taxi

It was a Saturday night and I was slowly cruising along East Coast Park Service Road after dropping off some passengers. As the area was dark, I happened to see a man standing by the side of the road waving frantically at my taxi. There seemed to be a couple standing about 10 metres behind the man along the road but I was not sure whether they have flagged my taxi before I saw them.

My first instinct was to stop my taxi to pick up the man in the darkness of the night, as he was the one nearest to me. An Indian man dressed smartly wearing a neatly pressed shirt boarded my taxi. Before I could ask the man where he is going, I saw the Chinese couple running towards my taxi and then the man, in his twenties, opened the rear passenger door and asked the Indian man to get out, shouting furiously and looking aggressive. The Chinese man then turned to me and said: “I’ve been waiting for more than half an hour looking for a taxi and this man just walked from nowhere to the front of us and boarded your taxi”.

The Indian man kept silence and refused to accede, despite the Chinese man repeatedly asked him to get out of the taxi. The situation seemed tricky and could easily get out of control if I remained silent. I politely asked the Indian man to accede to the couple’s demand as the rule of thumb in such a situation is that the taxi driver to pick up the passengers further away from him than the nearest one.

The Indian man refused to accede and said that he is not going to get out of the taxi whatsoever. Upon my quick thinking, I decided to ask where are they going.  The Indian man wanted to go to Telok Blangah Crescent and the couple to Kampong Arang road. I suggested that they all board my taxi and go to Kampong Arang Road first since it is just a 10 minutes journey and that they split the fare.

The Chinese man with a sullen face, just board  the taxi with the woman upon hearing my suggestion, and he sit in the middle of the rear passenger seats, with the woman on his right and the Indian man on his left. While in the taxi. I try to defuse the tense situation by chatting them up and saying that what happened was just a small matter, no need to get angry over such an incident. It seemed that the aggrieved parties still refused to talk to each other throughout the journey, but then it may be a good thing that the situation did not get worse. I think I have done the right thing.


It happened on my 5th day of driving a taxi. I picked up 2 passengers just outside People’s Park Centre. One was a Chinese male, skinny and thin, in his fifties and  the other was a Malay man in his twenties. The destination they are going is at Bukit Panjang. Once on board, I started to chit-chat with the Chinese man. I said something like as I am new driving a taxi, if customers like you who do not know how to guide me to the destination, especially for places like Sengkang and Punggol, I may just be taking the longer route and the fare will be much more expensive.

The Chinese man seemed to be agitated and angry with what I have just said to him and shouted at me: “You mean I have no money to pay you? How high can the fare be if you will to drive around the whole island? Now I have $200 to spare and demand you to drive to Changi airport and then to Tuas and then to and fro again”. I was taken aback by what he said and thinking that silence is golden, decided to keep quiet and continue driving them to Bukit Panjang. The Chinese man pulled out a mobile phone and called his mum to get ready $200 for him.

After some time, the man started to yell at me again: “I ask you to go to Changi airport, you go now! GO! GO!”. I just ignored him and after some thoughts, I said to the man: “Sir, I’m sorry that if what I’ve said have offended you and hurt you, please accept my sincere apology, I’m really sorry”. The Chinese man still seemed angry and agitated and refused my apology. The man beside him was instigating him all along the journey.

After some time, the man used his mobile phone to call the police, which he have threatened to do so a few times throughout the journey. He called the police and said: “I wanted to make a police report. This taxi driver have insulted me. He is very aggressive and wanted to beat me up………..”. At this point in time, I have decided that enough is enough, and said to the Chinese man: “OK, you want to play with me? Alright, I will entertain you. I will bring you to the nearest police post at Bukit Panjang”. I was swearing inside my heart, this man and his companion must be troublemakers, and they must have had very bad encounters last times with taxi drivers.

Upon reaching the police station, the Chinese man rushed in to meet the officers and started to make a police report, as though someone have attacked him. His face was still an angry one, and glancing back a few times to look at me. I was brought to another corner by the officers and related my side of the story to them. Luckily I was reassured by the officers that there’s no criminal case involved and it won’t be much of an issue. The Officers asked me if I would like to claim the $15 fare pending from the passengers, I said just forget it and write it off. I was then upset about the incident and wanted  to quit driving the taxi altogether.

Once bitten, twice shy. If I ever to meet such a petty person and refuse an apology from me, I would just stop the taxi and said “Sir, please take another taxi, thank you”.


Hi, first of all, I am not Cai Mingjie and I don’t have a PhD from Stanford University. I just got a Diploma from Singapore Polytechnic. Just in case you wonder what I am talking about, Cai Mingjie is a former taxi driver in Singapore with a PhD from Stanford University and he became famous after blogging about his taxi encounters in 2009. Since then he have published a book titled “Diary of a Taxi driver”.

Now that I’m taking a break, I wanted to share with you my interesting encounters while I’m driving a taxi for the past 8 months.