Courtesy is something I feel is strongly lacking among people in the younger generation today. While it is a big word to unpack in itself, and we all have different guidelines and principles as to what constitutes courteous and discourteous behavior and mannerisms, I believe there are some mannerisms which cannot be compromised. These should be highlighted. I would like to draw attention to the top three things you could do to peeve your driver before he sends you to your preferred destination. I am not referring to riding in taxis. On the contrary, I am reminded of people who treat their friends, friend’s friends, friend’s parents, teachers, etc. with disrespect when they ride in their cars as passengers.
A few months ago I offered to send two young ladies back to an MRT station near their home, after a formal dinner event at night. What could have been a pleasant getting-to-know-you session turned out to be my worst drive home. Let me share some reasons why, and perhaps you could echo similar or dissimilar experiences.
Peeve Number One: Sitting at the back of the vehicle when there is an empty passenger seat in front
The two ladies were inseparable. More than that, they were probably too shy, or uncomfortable, or pure selfish, to choose to sit themselves in the back seat when the passenger seat next to me was empty. Immediately I was cast into the role of a chauffeur, sending two young ladies back to their destination. My mum taught me from young that the passenger seat in front should always be filled first if you were riding in a senior or a friend’s vehicle; only taxi drivers sat alone in front, like trishaw riders did while their passengers chatted happily away behind their toiling backs.
Perhaps these ladies had not been taught manners as proper as I was, so I let it slide, giving my passengers the benefit of doubt that they were shy. It would not have been such a nasty unpleasant trip, if the two ladies had stopped talking about their personal private affairs in the back seat, completely oblivious to my presence in front. It was so difficult getting them to engage in a conversation with you, although I did try my utmost. And failed utterly.
Peeve Number Two: Expressing unhappiness when the driver takes a wrong turn
Yes I did make a wrong turn and we ended up being stuck in a little jam that night. But the two ladies did not hesitate to express their unhappiness and dissatisfaction. “Aiyah, we should have taken the other way… Now we will be stuck in a jam.” Well it would have sounded better if they grumbled in words. Most of the time those two ladies just voiced their unhappiness by making groans, grunts and sighs in the back seat each time I had to step on the brakes because of the congestion.
When you are a nervous wreck hard-pressed for time, don’t forget that chances are, your driver is also stressed. While you sit comfortably in the moving vehicle with music and the air-conditioner and company, the driver has to pay full attention to drive through that congestion. If you sit comfortably for ten additional minutes, your driver drives with full alertness for ten more minutes too. The last thing we need is our passenger (“friend”) to complain in front of our faces.
Peeve Number Three: Bargaining for your own convenience after being an awful passenger
I know it was late, but the last possible thing you could do as a passenger to irk your driver friend at this moment, would be to try negotiating an additional journey. “Err… How far are you going? Can you send us to XYZ instead? Will it too far?” Worse: “Anyway driving is very fast. You can just drive down and make a quick U-turn.” I would usually love to give my passengers a lift to somewhere convenient for them, but most passengers are kind enough not to push their limits and test the boundaries to their rights.
If those ladies had been kinder, more courteous passengers, I might even have offered them a ride to the destination they had hoped for, even at the expense of my inconvenience and time (and petrol!). But when you have been an unlawful passenger, please do not try to bargain with your driver for your own benefit. It only shows how ignorant and selfish you can be.
Yes I am griping, but I don’t think these gripes are without basis. Such behavior are becoming increasingly common, so much that we should now take a look at ourselves and think if we have forfeited our goodness and courtesy for things like selfishness and ingratitude.