Tonight is my last night in Taipei, and while I plan to blog more about it once I get back to Japan (I forgot my camera’s USB cable at home), I wanted to just leave a random thought I had tonight on the blog.
I’ve not ridden in many taxis. In the U.S., the few experiences I did have involved a wonderful driver who used to drive me to the Starbucks I worked at around 3:30am three or four times a week. His shift used to end at around 1am, but he knew my fare got him around 20 USD, so he would stay up the extra two and a half hours just to take me. He was a nice guy. He would keep me updated on the wolf pack tattoo he was getting on his arm, and at times it got uncomfortable when it started sounding like he was hitting on me, but he was a good guy, and I really appreciated that he went out of his way to drive me. I always tipped him at least four bucks.
Anyway, fast forward a bit to Japan, and I take taxis even less. The taxis are cleaner in Japan; drivers wear white gloves and shiny black caps, the seats are covered with white lace and every car seems brand new. However, the starting rate is 600 yen, or about 6 USD. Coming from America, where the flag cost is only two dollars, that seems outrageous, so I don’t usually take them. When I do, though, the drivers are polite, usually going through a pre-roll of typical questions for foreigners. It’s all pretty sterile, and not particularly exceptional.
Since I’ve been in Taiwan, I’ve taken a taxi three times, and am again reminded of how much I like them. In particular, the taxi driver who picked us up tonight made for one of those memories I hope to keep with me for a long time. I don’t know his name. He never spoke directly to us– but as he wove through traffic like a lightning bug, racing down slippery streets with no fear, he began singing to the radio. I’ve never experienced that before- someone spontaneously singing. Spontaneously singing while doing something so reckless as speeding in a downtown area. It was great (not the speeding part; I’m pretty sure I was gripping the door handle the entire ride). It was so refreshing to hear, despite his inability to hold a note, or his fluctuating confidence affecting his volume– it was just wonderful to hear someone not give a damn and sing because he felt like it. It made me smile, and it was a perfect end to the sight-seeing portion of my journey. So, thank you, Mr. Cab Man, whoever you are. Keep on singing. The world is a better place with you in it (though maybe you could ease up on the accelerator a bit there).