Friday, 11 November 2011

I realize that beside being his friend, I am also his key account

Mark picks me up everyday at 8:00 am. Mark is 'my' taxi driver. The first time that I prebooked a taxi in the morning, he happened to be the one to pick me up. Soon he asked the question: do you need another pick up tomorrow? This triggered the current daily routine. I am learning a lot about Singapore from him. He also offers me to help with internet/phones (his sun-in-law works in a phone store), with moving (he can borrow a van), tourist info (of course, he is a taxi driver) and with female company (he partly owns a little night club). Also, he often brings me food in the morning: all kinds of local noodle dishes, plus local soy drinks, coffee (with condensed milk), tea or even a blend of the latter two. This coffee + tea blend is called yuan yang and this, contrary to the average Westerner's expectations, turns out to be a very pleasant drink!
My attempts to pay for all this, including 'hidden moves' like giving high tips, all fail. "You are my friend, it is my pleasure" I feel somewhat awkward, because I know the taxi drivers do not make a lot of money. And I realize that beside being his friend, I am also his key account. So I just stay loyal to him to return the favour. Mark understands the concept of customer relationship building.

Mark has some flaws though... one of them is being impatient in traffic. OK, this may apply to all taxi drivers around the world. But his main complaint is that drivers in the fast lane are too slow. Tailgating is his usual move to get them out of the way. Two weeks ago however, he was doing 150 km/h (90 allowed) in the middle of the night, as asked by an asthmatic passenger who needed his medicine (as Mark all explained). Mark tailgated another car away from the fast lane, after which a lively exchange of improper gestures and angry faces followed. The tailgatee then decided to get back at the tailgaiter by sending an angry email to the taxi company, who in return decided to end the contract with Mark. He showed me the letter. Apparently there had been another complaint against him, some two years ago. "You do not comply with the service standards of our company" etc. He will lose the taxi by next week. Mark tells me it is no problem, he will get another car.

I am sure he will manage, one way or the other.

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