I was a frequent taxi rider for 14 years. In my twice-a-day rides, I met countless of drivers whose stories are interesting enough to merit retelling. For a year, my taxi rides were fewer than 10 a month. That number has increased dramatically in the last four months due to errands that necessitate 10-15 minute of taxi rides. Silence reigns in these relatively short drives, punctuated by polite greetings and the occasional political talks. The streak of quiet and time-to-catch-up-with-what’s-new-online taxi rides was broken by a driver with pride and fury in his heart.
I hailed this taxi in front, but not in the driveway, of the condominium building where I live. As soon as I got in and told him my destination, the driver informed me that the previous passenger was a foreigner with a lot of luggage. The guard of the condominium helped him and the foreigner gave him P10.00 ($0.20). He thought it was too small.
I agreed with him, but I also told him that the guards are not supposed to help the foreigner or Filipino guests or tenants and owners because their job is to guard and protect the building and the tenants, not to help guests and tenants lug their stuff in and out of cars. There are trolleys that we can borrow to ease the burden of carrying those. I added that I have not the privilege to be helped by the guards because they always help the foreigner guests first but not the Filipino owners, which was one of the complaints of the owners in a town hall meeting last year. The guards are polite and greet me when I enter or exit the building, but they are just more helpful to those who they think will give them more tips.
He kept quiet for five seconds. Then, he told me a story that happened to him in Greenbelt. He was waiting for his turn at a taxi bay when a foreigner (an American, in his words) and his Filipina wife arrived with a shopping cart. The foreigner asked him to move his taxi so they could pass and cross to the other side (I do not know if his story his accurate, but this is what he told me). He tried to move his taxi but could not due to the unmoving queue, so he opened his window and asked the foreigner to wait a little. Instead of being appeased, the foreigner shouted a lot of #$%&@#*^#!!! words and threw two P50.00 ($1.00) bills through the window. The foreigner told him to move his ass because he had money now. The driver opened the door and went out of his taxi, two P50.00 in hand, and shouted back at the foreigner. He blurted out, in Taglish (combination of Tagalog and English), “How dare you act this way in my country! This is not your country! If you do not like it here, leave!!!” He added that he was educated, and the foreigner had no right to look down on him just because he was a driver. He said that if he were in the foreigner’s country, he would be imprisoned or killed for the disrespectful act, but here the foreigner would just get a slap on the wrist or worse, an apology from the authorities.
I asked him what he did to the money. He tried to give it back to the foreigner, but the foreigner did not want it. The foreigner continued to shout #$%&@#*^#!!! words, and the Filipina wife joined in. He turned to the Filipina and shouted, “shut up! You are nothing!”. I said, “harsh naman, kuya”. He said the foreigner also said the same to his wife, so he did not feel guilty about it. He ended up throwing the money into the trash bin and went back inside his car.
He added that he worked outside the country for a while and nobody treated him like that. Only when he became a taxi driver did he start having these horrible experiences from people who think they are better than him.
At this point, we arrived at my destination. It was a shame that I was not able to listen to his other stories.