“He clearly held pride in his country of origin, regardless of if he could live there or not.”
This past Friday was an endlessly long day, the kind of day where bad and annoying meet up to offer nothing of redeeming value.
I had left my house in the 6 AM hour. Around 8 PM that night I bought a train ticket which would have put me home around 9:20 PM. Ugh. Then I said screw it and opened the Uber app. The price was $29.80 and I would get home about 8:40.
Normally I would never have paid an additional 30 bucks on top on a train ticket that was in my hands just to get home 40 minutes earlier. (After all I need to be frugal in life so I can afford those upper class airplane seats.) As a testament to my day I clicked request and my ride was there in just a few minutes.
The driver was a chatty older Asian man with a moderate accent. Five minutes into the ride I felt bad saying, “Sorry I am not really in the mood to talk.” But I said I anyhow because it was true.
About half way through the drive I changed my mind plus he seemed like a nice guy. Nicer than me that evening for sure.
I couldn’t place his accent so I asked where he was from.
He said Singapore and I told him I went there once for about two weeks in 2002 and very much I enjoyed it and how nice the people were. He seemed surprised his passenger had been to his homeland. I could tell he smiled broadly about my fast Singapore impressions.
I told him I spent a week on the beautiful Sentosa Island and a week in the heart of the city. I told him about going to the food markets at night and getting chicken rice and lime juice and how great it tasted. I told him I liked that even better than the Raffles hotel.
He told me the markets and neighborhoods were the real Singapore and how much he missed it. He said that he was glad I saw Sentosa before they built a casino there. I asked why they would do such a thing, and he sighed. “Money,” he said.
He told me that he did not go to a school were they taught English, so his friends taught him English. I said that is probably the better way to learn English because then you can talk to people the way people really talked to each other. Believe me with my mood I was not trying to be the positive affirmation guy to this random Uber driver. However, he clearly paused for a moment about my thought on how he learned English and he liked it.
He told me that Singapore has become so expensive he can’t live there. I said it was expensive when I was there. It made me a little sad to think that a place has become so expensive that people born in that place can’t live there anymore. But that is no different than the United States (where more than ever the rich get richer and the poor get poorer). Heck look at San Francisco.
He pointed out that Singapore is the cleanest country in the world and a bunch of other positive things about Singapore. He clearly held pride in his country of origin, regardless of if he could live there or not.
I think he appreciated how much I liked Singapore. For me, spending $30 to get me thinking about something totally different than my day was well worth it. Thank you Uber. And in the very random chance that the Uber driver is reading this I truly hope you find a way to live in your homeland again.