By Anne Wong
Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
Mr Raymond Ng, sharing his story over coffee
My parents always raised me with the same motto which I continue to instill in my children: Never be greedy.
I was born and raised in Penang. I never had the chance to pursue a degree, but I completed my formal education in St Xavier school.
My first job was as a factory worker. I managed to work my way up to a managerial role, and I remained at that level for at least 4 international companies.
In the 90’s, the economy tanked and I got retrenched
At the age of 45, and with no degree, nobody wanted to hire me. It was tough to find a decent job, even with all the experience I had holding a managerial role for years.
So eventually, I decided to drive taxis for a living.
My reasoning was, the timing was flexible, and I could earn a decent enough living if I put in enough hours per day.
Because of the bureaucracy, with priority mostly given to certain groups, I actually waited 10 years to get my taxi driving permit. I’m not kidding.
Meanwhile, how did I manage to drive a taxi?
Some taxi companies are allowed to lease out their permits. This arrangement is completely legal, as long as you have a valid PSV license.
While waiting for the permit to be issued, I rented one and shared it with another driver. During the day, I would drive the taxi, while during the night, my partner would take over.
In a day, the rental cost for a taxi at that time was about RM30-40 per day. The income I would get at the time was about RM100-200 a day. But with petrol, toll and other costs, my usual takeaway is about RM100 a day.
We reduced my costs and maximized the use of the permit so much from that. So in a way, the bureaucracy was a good thing!
Sometimes I feel bad asking the elderly for payment, so I drive them for free.
After being in this industry for quite some time, I’ve met a lot of good people during my travels. Once in a while, I get a very elderly passenger, or a person with disabilities.
Each time, I would feel bad for asking for payment, so I’d drive them to their destinations for free. They need the money more than I do.
I could’ve made a lot of money from some people, but I never took them
In this line of work, it pays more to be cautious, and most importantly, to not get greedy. Especially when I get clients who I can immediately tell are into shady things.
For example, one time, I picked a client up from a hotel and sent him to the airport.
On the way, he told me that he accidentally left his other suitcase in the hotel. He offered me an additional sum of money to collect it and send it to the airport.
I noticed he was only carrying one bag of luggage with him when he entered my taxi.
At this point, I refused, and told him to go get it himself. After all, who ‘forgets’ their luggage at the hotel?
It was clear to me that he simply wanted someone to transport a case of illicit items. During a police block, I’d be the only one who kena from them.
Of course, there were other times that someone would pay me a handsome sum if I picked up something to deliver to a different place, and I would refuse every single time.
I also get customers who would tell me to take them to a certain place, but never stop at the destination.
Instead, he wants me to go round the building a few times before dropping him off someplace else. He would offer me twice or three times my going rate, but again, I would refuse it.
It’s clear that these people have connections to gangs. Maybe they wanted to stake out a place for burglary. In any case, I prefer not to take any chances.
Why not call the Police?
My top priority is my personal safety. That’s why I never want to get the police involved.
If I decide to get involved and report them, the criminals know my name and my car plate number, so I could easily be harassed.
There was a time I once had a criminal on the run from the police who boarded my taxi.
I knew who he was, because I read The Star newspaper that day and I recognized his face. Still, I agreed to take him to the borders and drop him off there.
It’s much too risky to try to be a hero. I’m sure the police will catch him at the border anyway.
I feel blessed, because I’m quite lucky so far, and I never got arrested.
That’s why I always practice my life motto: Never be greedy.
Honestly, the recent economic downturn hasn’t affected the business too badly. And even if it did, you cannot cry, you have to only look forward.
I don’t complain about hindrances in life, because it could always be worse.
Rather, I am thankful that I always manage to save a little for every penny I earned. That’s why I believe you must always work hard. If you do, you will always have enough.
For more stories like this, read: My Experience As A Hijab-wearing Female Grab Driver and Stories From My E-hailing Rides
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