I really do not like catching taxis but once a week it becomes a necessity for grocery shopping. The route from our condo in Marina Bay to Great World City is straight-forward with just five corners to turn off main roads and it should cost less than SG$7 (AU$5). However, taxi drivers here in Singapore tend to think, when picking up an Ang Mo, that you’re a tourist and don’t know where you’re going so if I should make the mistake of picking up my iPhone, before I notice it, I’ll be on the scenic route in the opposite direction. And I must remain alert the entire journey, as just when I think it is safe to look away I’ll find myself somewhere that begs incredulity. Needless to say, this simple weekly task which takes a mere 10-15 minutes causes me angst in anticipation, and I had to ask myself why; and why I can’t instead enjoy the journey on the detour as apparently that is a sign of a truly happy person.
Firstly, I believe it’s a question of time. Time is the most valuable commodity we have; once it is spent, it can’t be recovered. For every weekday, I segment the working hours into units and allocate these precisely to ensure I achieve everything that needs to be done that day (sad, obsessive, yet true and a sign of conflicting priorities). So a detour in a taxi can make a mess of my schedule, not to mention it is scenery I’ve seen plenty of times when I intended to see it.
Secondly, I don’t like to be ripped-off. No one likes to be taken for a ride (pardon the pun) so when it happens, it is an affront to ego—someone has assumed we’re too stupid to know better. I don’t like to think I have an ego but obviously I do because an incident in Morocco in 2010 still haunts me when it really shouldn’t. As is often the case with tours, we were taken to a local spice shop in Tangier and I ended up paying significantly more than I should have even though we’re only talking about $40. Still, it annoys me that I didn’t question it even though I knew it was not right and was strangely silent (must have been the spices). Again, I have to ask myself why this would bother me so much since it is not a significant sum—it must be a question of ego, and that’s disturbing; the presence of ego means an absence of humility.