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. Now, my taxi rides are fewer than 10 a month, but the drivers are still as talkative as ever. Two weeks ago, on my way to my house from Greenhills, I had the good fortune of hailing this driver.
It was a short ride from Greenhills to where I live, so it was a surprise that even with the perfunctory small talk, the driver and I were able to cover a lot in the short time we were braving Metro Manila traffic.
As we neared the second stoplight, I pointed at the building where I live, and said that it is our destination. The taxi driver said that he used to work in that area, at an ice cream factory. I said that it closed down a couple of years ago, and now it is a mall.
He said that he worked for the ice cream factory for over 10 years as a delivery truck driver. There were hundreds of them before, delivering ice cream and other cold products to sellers across Luzon. Every so often, they taste tested their products and of its rivals. While other drivers chose their own products as the better products. He went against the flow and chose the real better products: sometimes theirs, sometimes their rival’s.
This went on for a while until a superior asked him to sample the ice creams again. He stood by his earlier decisions, and said that some of their rival’s products are better than theirs. He thought that he would get fired right then and there. It was a relief that his superior clapped his back and thanked him for being honest. As an added benefit for his truthfulness, he got a monetary bonus. He laughed at the thought, turned to me while we waited for the third stoplight to turn green, and said that the inferiority of their products was not the reason why the factory went under.
It was typhoon Ondoy that caused financial loss to the ice cream factory. He explained that after Ondoy, the freezers and the products they contained succumbed to floodwaters. He turned to me again and asked, how could they force the flood victims to pay for the damaged freezers? Most of them lost their houses, some their lives. With thousands of sellers across the flooded regions, that meant thousands of freezers and millions of products. Once multiplied by the value of the lost products, it resulted to a big loss. A few months after Ondoy, hundreds of drivers were let go. Only five trucks remained. My jaw dropped. He just nodded solemnly and repeated, “five”.
As we neared the fourth stoplight, he talked about his personal life specifically, the women in his life. He said that when he was younger, he was a handsome man. When I did not answer in agreement, he turned around and told me that he really was, and women loved his aquiline nose, high cheekbones and full hair (he had nice nose). It was the reason why his wife left him. Fortunately, he was allowed to visit his four daughters. I joked, “four daughters, huh. Pambayad utang?” He laughed some more, then he sighed and said, “sana hindi”. I told him that I am sure his daughters will be fine.
As we turned right on the fourth stoplight, he saw our destination looming, he asked me if we could go straight so he could talk some more. I smiled, but shook my head, no. I told him, if we see each other again, he can continue his stories.