Taxicab Confessions

My brother Luke, who usually knows about these kinds of things, taught me that it's polite to call the taxi drivers in Singapore "uncle." And since taxis are cheap here, and we therefore use them rather a lot, I've suddenly found myself with a whole bunch of uncles, which, if I were into geneology and all that, would really be kind of a bitch when it came to drawing my family tree. "Hello uncle!" I'll say, clambering across the plastic-covered seat, nearly knocking myself in the head with the air freshener dangling from the ceiling. "Can we go to Orchard Road, please?" And "thank you, uncle!" I find myself singing as I present my newest family member with a crumpled bill at the end of the journey, holding it straight in front of me with both thumbs outstretched, which is another thing I've been taught to do to be polite. "Have a good day, uncle!"

It was sort of weird at first. A few years ago, my mother offered a lift to a woman struggling with several very heavy shopping bags, and as she climbed into the car gushing "thank you, auntie! Oh, thank you, auntie!" my brothers and sister and I went puce with the effort of trying not to giggle. I always wonder if the taxi drivers are laughing inwardly at my misguided efforts to show respect. "I'm not your uncle!" they're probably thinking as they navigate rush hour traffic, with little regard for outdated concessions like, oh, traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. "I mean, how ridiculous is that? First of all, I'm, like, four years older than you, and second of all, you're probably the whitest white girl I've ever seen in my life. Look at you, with your embarassingly large sunglasses and your overeagerness to make small talk about the weather. You're no niece of mine! And why do you keep handing me money with both of your thumbs outstretched? Did someone teach you to do that as well?"

And yet I keep up with the uncle business anyway, in an effort to do what I think is polite, in an effort to appear less like a tourist, and---if we're really being honest---in an effort to try and appease the elephant in the room (or the car, I suppose), which is huddled in the back corner under a large sign reading I AM PAYING SOMEONE ELSE TO DRIVE ME TO THE GROCERY STORE BECAUSE I'M TOO LAZY TO WALK. (Wouldn't it be awesome, by the way, if the illuminated sign on the top of the cab displayed each passenger's destination, instead of the boring and obvious HIRED? It could change every few minutes: I AM GOING ON A BLIND DATE WHICH I FEEL SURE WILL FAIL and I'M ON MY WAY TO AN IMPORTANT BUSINESS MEETING, WISH ME LUCK! and I'M GOING HOME TO TELL MY WIFE THAT I WANT A DIVORCE, DO YOU THINK I'M WEARING THE RIGHT TIE?)

Today we had an uncle who used to be a customs official at the airport. This guy, I kind of wish actually was my uncle, if only for the drunken anecdotes he could regale us with over Christmas dinner. As he drove us through town, he told us all about how he used to catch drug smugglers trying to get into Singapore, and he didn't mince words when it came to describing how they did it. "Put heroin in straw!" he explained. "Put in condom! Then put up asshole!" Sean and I exchanged a look as he went on to reminisce about the time he'd stopped an Australian man who had done just that; feeling that there was something off about the guy, our customs-official-turned-taxi-driver had searched him and searched him and searched him, but it wasn't until he told the man to bend over that he, ahem, spied the goods. "And so did you have to ... pull it out?" I asked tentatively, almost afraid of the answer but, damnit, just trying my best again to be polite. "Yes, yes!" he shouted excitedly. "Had to pull it out! Got a bonus for finding it!"

1
jes
Jul 11, 2006

If I had to pull it out, I'd want a bonus, too. And I'd want a big bonus.

Maybe that's why he retired to taxi driving - he couldn't stand looking up people's asses. He'd rather drive the asses around the city.

2
Emily
Jul 11, 2006

Love love LOVE the idea of an illuminated sign with a passenger's real destination!

Except that I wouldn't have wanted anyone to know my situation on New Years Eve in Chicago circa 2001: HEADED HOME TO PUKE UP DISGUSTING MIX OF TOO MUCH JOHNNY WALKER ALONG WITH KETCHUP SHOTS THAT SELF DOWNED JUST FOR OTHER PARTYGOERS AMUSEMENT

3
jonniker
Jul 11, 2006

Oh my god. I don't think I could do that. I don't think I could possibly care enough about drug smuggling to force another man to bend over then REACH INTO HIS ANUS AND PULL OUT A CONDOM OF DRUGS. I mean, I care about illegal drugs! I do! I'm not suggesting that we all destroy each other with Ecstasy or anything, but anuses? Condoms? Drugs in anuses? No. Just no.

And this is why I am a writer, not a narc. Sigh.

4
Serenity Now
Jul 11, 2006

I would seriously hope he got a bonus after pulling a condom with drugs out of another man's ass. It should have been some bonus too.

5
Meg
Jul 11, 2006

I love the sign above the cabs idea -- except I would be so embarassed, because mine would always say, "Too tipsy to not take a cab!" or "Lazy girl!"

6
barbie2be
Jul 11, 2006

EIW!!!!

7
Heather
Jul 11, 2006

This is actually a comment on your last post, but ummmm.....given this morning's events in India (commuter train explosion where LOTS OF PEOPLE DIED), I'm going to cast my vote firmly in favor of Myanmar. Or, pretty much anywhere else that's NOT INDIA. Yikes.

Oh, and re: pulling drugs out of people's anuses? EWWWWW!!! I really regret that I read that just as I was sitting down to eat my lunch. My diet thanks you, however. ;-)

8
marcheline
Jul 11, 2006

Actually, the whole "uncle" thing is very common in many countries, as well as India.

In Korea, for example, they take the whole thing to an even higher level. When introducing a spouse, you say, "This is our wife." So you don't seem greedy, as if you want to keep your wife all to yourself, I guess.

In Japan, they introduce the youngest daughter as, "the virgin of the household." That so wouldn't work here in the USA! Unless the youngest daughter was actually a 34 year old computer geek guy in drag.... ha!

9
Vaguely Urban
Jul 11, 2006

That last Uncle is full of grace, indeed!

10
Daisy
Jul 11, 2006

I love the idea of illuminated signs on the taxis! This expands the whole concept of People-Watching to a new level. Instead of guessing why the people are in a cab, you would know! How about, "Don't tell the cabbie, but I don't have enough money to tip him!"

11
Gretchen
Jul 11, 2006

Ahh, the old drugs in the rectum trick. I always think of that segment in Pulp Fiction where Christopher Walken is recounting the travels of Bruce Willis' father's watch in people's asses during the war. And how Chris hands him the watch at the end, and the way the kid looks when he reaches out to take it. THINGS CHANGE, BUT SHIT MOLECULES ARE FOREVER.

12
Mir
Jul 11, 2006

Yeah, um, I was feeling all jealous of your adventures, right up until this post. Now I'm feeling pretty good about being stuck at home. ;)

13
Susan
Jul 12, 2006

So now I'm wondering what the "bonus" was. I mean money is great, but shouldn't he get something MORE for that? But WHAT?

And the sign over my taxi would always say, "WEARING SHOES THAT CANNOT BE WALKED IN BUT LOOK REALLY REALLY CUTE WITH THIS SKIRT."

14
s@bd
Jul 12, 2006

OMGSH OMGSH OMGSH OMGSH

that's so gross.

(yes. I'm an 8-year-old in a grown woman's body.)

15
Velma
Jul 12, 2006

The cab idea is awesome. Mine would inevitably read some version of "LATE AGAIN BECAUSE MY SON POOPED SO MESSILY I HAD TO CHANGE."

Also, seriously not trying to keep up a poop thread here, but I don't know if I've ever registered that the plural of "anus" must be "anuses." It just looks wrong to me, somehow.

16
Carrie
Jul 12, 2006

It never before this moment occured to me that this is another good reason to be glad I'm not addicted to drugs - you have no idea where that shit (so to speak) has been!

17
marcheline
Jul 13, 2006

Oh, no, Carrie.... you have a very GOOD idea of EXACTLY where it's been, and it's not pretty!