12/08/2007

Taiwan's Transport More Civil


Jientan MRT Station

I received a call from a taxi company today, following up on a complaint my wife made to them about one of their drivers. My wife called for a taxi this morning. She was taking our daughter to visit her parents in Wanhua (萬華). When the taxi arrived at our apartment, my wife was waiting at the front door with a backpack full of baby gear, a stroller and our daughter in her arms. She asked the driver to pop the trunk and to give her a hand. According to my wife, he didn't budge from his seat. He told her to put the stroller in the front seat and then to climb in, to which my wife replied: "I only have two hands. Could you please help me?" The driver still did not move. Instead, he said:

"Put the baby on the ground. Then you'll be OK."

When the taxi rep. called, he sounded like business: "We're going to correct this," he told me. "The driver has already had a good talking to. We're suspending him for five days."

I called my wife, impressed that she had actually carried through with a threat to complain. Neither of us wanted to see the driver suspended, as he might have a family to support. On the other hand, we didn't want him to do this to the next person. We decided it was a necessary pain he'd have to bear in becoming a more productive part of a civil society. I pulled this quote off the Internet: "Civil societies are also civic societies, that is, we as citizens must take some responsibility for changing what we do not like." My wife was simply taking responsibility as any citizen would to make Taiwan a nicer place.

I can't help thinking about a story that surfaced a couple of years ago when another responsible citizen did his or her part. That person photographed a bus driver with his bare foot up on the dashboard of the bus. The driver, in his defense, said he had had an itchy foot that needed airing and scratching. The bus company was not having any part of it, and gave him some points (which would probably affect his yearly bonus). The driver promptly responded by committing suicide. It's a tough job driving a bus in Taipei. I wouldn't want it.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, but did she get in the taxi and pay the guy? Driving a bus is not a tough job. Nor is driving a taxi. When you consider that a professional driver (in the US) requires only a grade 3 education (and I'm talking the guys who drive HazMat trucks), they are living off the fat of the land. Bus/taxi drivers get to go home every night. They make more than minimum wage. They could be migrant Thai men...doing construction, couldn't they. I've been a PD (professional driver). I drove carefully and safely. I delivered loads on time, and without damage. So did 99% of my co-workers. In North American we call the other 1% of drivers 'Gypsies'. Gypsies don't drive safely. They fake their log books. They drive at high speeds (speeds they don't a hope in hell of stopping at), they park in dangerous spots. They pull U-turns on the highway. In short Gypsies are A-holes and a threat to public safety...just like 99% of Taiwanese "professional" drivers.

Patrick Cowsill said...

No, she didn't get in or pay the guy. She called the company and requested another cab. While she was riding in the replacement cab, she called the company back to complain about the first driver.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Update: My wife is now using a different taxi company.