So here’s a weird little factoid for your amusement. As a sign of respect, people in the know call Singapore cab drivers, “Uncle”. It doesn’t matter if they are older or younger, local or foreign. Apparently your aunt’s husband is the man with the plan for navigating the city’s heavily trafficked roadways.
I’ve tried using the endearment a couple of times in hopes of prompting a fare-reducing route. The thing is, the saying comes about as natural to me as a snap-on Afro and a white on white fist pound on the B-ball court. You might nail the lay-up, but it still looks cheesy when you’re metaphorically rocking black socks in the gym class of life.
Anyway, it was all for naught. Singapore is so riddled with regulations that the cabbies couldn’t help you if they wanted to….which they don’t. None do.
Cabstands and single file cues reign over the midtown arm hail. So much for body-checking those yogurt-slurping yuppies out of the way to make that 9 o’clock downtown. And you can’t jump out midstream if traffic piles up. You’re in for the ride baby, so bring your Visa ‘cause Uncle don’t take bullshit and fare jumpers are sent to the gallows or so they tell it.
You can book a cab from your office or hotel, but they add on an extra $3.50 for the pleasure. There’s also 10% more for charging it, a 35% tack on for peak hours (every waking moment or so it seems), and I believe a variable, wise-ass gringo charge, though I’m not certain about that last one.
Of course you could take the bus for like 6 cents, but it’s the bus for God sakes and at 147 degrees in the shade it’s better to just avert your glance from the meter and think of Christmas.
Still there are ways around the some of this nonsense. Saying uncle is a good start, but being a regular doesn’t hurt either. You’ll save some booking fees and may get the occasional jump out if you’re both up for risking a ticket. Leave it to me to find a way to earn a car-less citation. Always the overachiever.
In fairness, it’s not all one-sided woe. My Uncle this morning bitched endlessly about his first fare…his twin daughters. Not only did they expect a free ride and noon pick up, but they bummed mall money to boot… for boots actually if you can believe it. I sympathized and somehow the booking fee disappeared. Petty? Perhaps. But a bucks a buck baby, even when it’s a Singapore dollar.