I'm not trying to say that I am a quiet person. Actually I am far from being labelled as a quiet person. With alcohol, I talk twice as much and twice as fast. Once, Star slapped across the face because I couldn't stop jabbering away. "Shut up! There is just so much drunken talk I can afford to withstand in a night!" I didn't wince. I just stopped talking for a while. But by the next "Screwdriver", I was at it again. Without alcohol, I would like to think that I am friendly enough without being too cloying. I excel in group discussions and ask anybody who has met me for the first time, I think the adjective that is most probably going to be used to describe me is "chatty".
There are times however, when I just don't wish to engage in a conversation. Like everybody else, with the exception of someone who would describe themselves as a morning person (I hate those people), I don't really like to talk in the morning. As a kid, the incessant questions asked by my mother before school would always be answered by grunts and sighs. Sometimes a nod, sometimes a head shake. But never once would I answer my mum with a spoken word, even if it's just a one syllable "yes". The idea of talking at 6am in the morning is tiresome, senseless and is looked upon with much detest. What topic of conversation could possibly be so exciting that people are willing to talk about it first thing in the morning?
So imagine my horror when this morning, I boarded a taxi that was driven by possibly the most chirpy and talkative taxi driver in Singapore. I am not talking about good chirpy, I am talking about boisterous talking in volumes that resonates from the front and back of the cab in ear splitting decibels. An alpha morning person. Maybe I could do with a little bit of positivity and cheerfulness, but this is just a case of wrong time, wrong place.
Trying to recollect the experience and conversation alone is enough to give me a headache right now.
"Good morning young man!" he wished (shouted) to me when I boarded the taxi. I was honestly quite taken aback. Time check: 6:47am. Not good. I need to get used to his booming voice, and quickly, or this trip will end up at a poise station when I tried to shut his mouth by trying to cover his lips with my belt from the back. I'm THAT cranky in the morning.
" What can I do for you young man?" he asked.
"Speak softly for a start...", I muttered under my breath.
"I'm sorry. Where?!" he enquired again.
"Alright young man. Raffles Place it is! Buckle up! Let's go!" he chirped.
I feel like I'm in The Magic Schoolbus. Except of course there is no magical destination and there is nothing to learn at the end of the journey. What I am getting is a ringing noise in my ears and a taxi fare with a surcharge.
I read somewhere that one of the best and effective ways to avoid a conversation with a taxi driver is by plugging in your MP3. So I started scouring my bag for my headphones to plug into my iPhone, fervently praying inside that the taxi driver wouldn't start and broach a conversation with me until the headphones are in my ears.
"Did you watch the Man U match last night?" he suddenly asked.
Shit. Because a) a conversation has been broached and b) I don't watch soccer. I belong to the 1% of the male species who don't watch soccer. I don't hate it, I just don't watch it. And I finally got hold of my earphones but it is so tangled, it is messier than Lindsay Lohan's affinity with cocaine; allegedly.
"Nope", I replied.
"Shame! Yesterday got more than five offsides! Terrible game. Line of defense was not that good either, no focus!"
"Mhmmm", I grunted. I have no bleeding idea what the hell he is talking about. I just kept looking down, trying my level best to untangle the headphones.
"Now house prices really getting ridiculous isn't it young man?", he asked a second after, obviously not reading my body language. I nodded. The damn headphones, still tangled beyond help.
"Are you married young man?"
I feel like he is about to break out into the YMCA song any moment now. I shook my head.
"Good! You will live longer! Haha!", he joked. I offered a weak smile. By this time I was highly irritated and just chucked the tangled mess that is my headphones back into my bag. I sat back and closed my eyes.
"You're not feeling well young man?" he asked.
"I am okay", I amswered curtly, eyes still closed. Later on in the day I will have the time to regret my actions but as of right now, I have a splitting headache. Moments after he spoke, the sound still lingered inside the cab like a fart. It's that bad and no, I am not exaggerating.
"Must take care of yourself. Nowadays living in Singapore is very stressful", he advised.
"Sitting in this cab is stressful", I said inside my heart.
"Nevermind! You go sleep! When we have reached, I will wake you up!", he said. And then the cab got silent. Eyes closed, all I could hear is the faint sound of the engine and soft music playing from the radio. Richard Marx started singing on the radio, his lilting voice almost lulling me to sleep. This is how cab rides should be in the morning.
Suddenly I hear humming. Ten seconds into it, Mr Cab Driver started singing along to the song. Softly at first, and then the chorus came:
"WHEREVER YOU ARE, WHATEVER YOU DO, I'LL BE RIGHT HERE WAITING FOR YOU!"
I opened my eyes. This is turning into a nightmare. I'm feeling mildly sociopathic. He glanced at the rearview mirror and smiled, "Did I wake you up young man?"
"Uncle, drop me after the traffic light", I said sharply.
"I thought you want to go to Raffles Place?"
"I want to get something from here."
I took out twenty bucks from my wallet and asked him to keep the change. I alighted the taxi and started walking to Raffles place...by foot.
"You mean to tell me that you waked all the way from City Hall to Raffles Place because of an annoying cab driver?" Star laughed at me when I finally reached her workplace to hand her the Macbook Air she forgot to bring along with her from last night, doing her presentations at my place.
"I didn't say he was annoying", I replied, annoyed.
"But you think he was didn't you?" Star raised her eyebrows condescendingly.
"For someone who sleeps around on a daily basis you sure do have the nerve to talk about patience don't you?" I replied.
"You're never seeing me again!" Star said, snatching her Macbook from my hand and angrily walked away, a familiar pair of red soles punctuating every step of hers.