Be the reason someone smiles today.
The bright yellow taxi came to a stop by the side of the road. A tall slender woman stepped out of the driver’s door and went to the back of the taxi where a lady passenger was standing.
“Good morning madam, I’m Yuri. Let me help you put your shopping bags into the boot while you take a seat in the car,” Yuri greeted with a smile.
Yuri took a glance in the rearview mirror and noticed the woman was fanning herself with a brochure. She quickly lowered the temperature of the air-conditioning in her taxi, hoping to make it a more comfortable ride for her passenger.
“Is there a sale at Marks and Spencers? I noticed you bought quite a number of stuff from there.”
Being a taxi driver allowed Yuri to meet people from all walks of life. She enjoyed striking a conversation with them. Some of them were chatty while others preferred to be left alone. At times, she had to deal with difficult customers. On rare occasions, she came across passengers who gave her slip when she stopped them at their destinations. Initially she wanted to give chase but later felt that there wasn’t any point in doing so. She might be on the losing end if she injured herself while chasing after the passenger or incur a parking fine if she stopped at a no parking zone. Yuri learnt to take such things in her stride and not be overly bothered by it. On the positive side, her general knowledge grew through the conversations she shared with her passengers.
Late at night, Yuri was waiting in line at the airport to pick up passengers. When it was her turn, she saw a slim lady with chestnut-coloured long hair walking towards her with a huge suitcase. Yuri hurried over to help the lady pull the suitcase towards her taxi. The lady had an air of elegance as she strolled towards the taxi in a ‘catwalk-like’ manner. She wore a light brown leather jacket with a white translucent top that revealed her black bra quite clearly. She paired it with black skinny jeans and a pair of boots.
Yuri met all sorts of people everyday and she treated them like any ordinary person. In fact, she once ferried a K-pop idol of a popular female group and she treated her well, just like how she would treat the rest of her passengers.
Judging from this lady’s dressing and her demeanor, Yuri guessed she must be some sort of celebrity or important person. Nonetheless, she would still provide good service regardless of the status, as long as the person was a passenger in her taxi.
“Good evening madam. I’m Yuri. Let me help you with your suitcase,” Yuri greeted in her usual chirpy tone.
The lady wore a serious expression on her face and gave a quick nod. She attempted to help Yuri lift the heavy suitcase into the boot of the taxi but was politely refused by the taxi driver. The lady was amazed at Yuri’s strength when she saw the tanned taxi driver heave the suitcase into the boot seemingly effortlessly.
“Where are you off to, madam?” Yuri asked as she slipped on her seatbelt.
The lady gave Yuri an address.
Wow, she must be rich. I’ve heard about the district she stays in but never had the chance to go there. Looks like it would be an eye-opener for me tonight! Yuri thought to herself.
“Had a good flight? Which country did you come from?”
The lady turned her head from the window towards Yuri.
“That’s really far away. Were you there for holidays or work?”
The tone was cold. It appeared that the lady wasn’t keen to start a conversation judging from the single word answers. Yuri decided to stop asking any questions. The passenger was probably tired from the long flight and wasn’t in the mood to talk.
As Yuri turned into the road that led into the district, she couldn’t help but be awed by the sights. A row of European styled lampposts stood in the middle divider of the road. A huge entrance arch with naval design and a sign that said ‘Ocean View’ greeted Yuri as she slowed down at the security post.
A middle-aged security officer came out of his office. He raised an eyebrow at Yuri, wondering what sort of business she had in this district.
“I’m dropping off a passenger,” Yuri explained, pointing to the back seat of the taxi.
“Which block are you going to? What is the unit number?” The security officer asked as he peered through the rear passenger window.
Yuri turned around to face the lady. However, the lady was sleeping soundly at the back seat.
“Excuse me, madam,” Yuri called out. The lady didn’t respond. Yuri repeated herself, slightly louder but there was still no movement from her.
Feeling the stern glare of the security officer, Yuri decided to tap the lady on her knee.
“We’ve arrived at Ocean View. The security officer needs your block and unit number.”
Fortunately, the lady stirred. She looked at Yuri with half-opened eyes while stretching her arms over her head.
“The security officer is asking for your block and unit number,” Yuri repeated.
The lady frowned and dug out a leather-bound notebook from her handbag.
“Block B, Unit #12-50.”
The security officer wrote the information in his log book and opened the gantry for Yuri to pass through.
As Yuri drove past the security office, she took in the sights within the compound. A fountain, comprising of two dolphins which were sprouting water from their blow-holes, sat in the middle of a big roundabout. Behind the fountain were six blocks of luxury apartments, resembling the sails of a ship.
How nice if I had the money to buy an apartment here. Everyday I would wake up and be greeted by the vast blue ocean at my balcony. Yuri thought to herself.
Yuri spotted Block B and parked her car the foot of the block. The lady gave her a fifty dollar tip.
“Thank you very much. I hope you had a comfortable ride in my taxi. Here’s a banana for you.” Yuri whipped out a banana and held it in front of the lady.
The lady had a look of confusion on her face.
“A banana resembles a smile and wearing a smile,” Yuri held the banana in an upturn manner and placed it in front of her lips to illustrate her point. “It helps to chase the tiredness away. I hope you’ll have a good rest and be energized for tomorrow!”
Just then, the lift doors opened. The lady was in a state of surprise and didn’t know how to react to Yuri’s offer of the banana. Nonetheless, she took it before stepping into the lift.
“Good night!” Yuri greeted merrily with a wave. The lady gave a slight nod as the doors closed.
As Yuri sat into her taxi, she realised it was close to midnight.
“Time to call it a day and rest. Tomorrow will be a better day!” Yuri declared as she tucked the fifty dollar note safely in her money pouch before driving home.
Three days later…
Yuri had just dropped a passenger off at a shopping mall in a neighborhood suburb. She planned on visiting the washroom at the mall and grabbing a cup of hot coffee before driving off. She switched the sign on top of her taxi to “Busy” and was about to park her car when she heard someone knocking on the front passenger window.
“Sorry, I am taking a short break at the moment. Please hail a taxi from the taxi stand over there,” Yuri explained as she got out of the taxi.
“I’m in a hurry and there is a long queue for taxis. I’ll pay you double the fare on the meter!” came a flustered request.
Yuri noticed it was the same lady whom she dropped off at Ocean View two nights ago. She appeared to be in a genuine hurry and was carrying a black portfolio with her. Since her short break wasn’t that urgent, Yuri decided to oblige.
“Late for an appointment?” Yuri asked while driving through the midday traffic.
Looking at the rear view mirror, Yuri saw the lady frowning and looking worried. “I’ll try my best to get you there as soon as I can without getting a speeding ticket.”
True to her words, the lady insisted on paying Yuri twice the amount of fare that was stated in the meter. Yuri refused to accept the extra amount, stating that it was her job to ferry people to their destinations. In the end, the lady pressed a ten dollar note onto Yuri’s palm and told her to buy herself a cup of coffee.
“Oh well, lucky me,” Yuri muttered to herself. She parked her taxi at a nearby coffeehouse and took a short break.
After returning to her taxi, Yuri noticed bird poop on the rear passenger window of her taxi. While using a wet wipe to clean the poop, Yuri noticed a navy blue Prada card holder on the rear passenger seat.
Opening it, Yuri saw name cards of various companies, mostly from talent and creative agencies. Then she spotted a few names cards which were identical and assumed that belonged to the owner of the name card holder.
Blanc & Eclare
Yuri wondered which passenger this name ard belonged to. It couldn’t have been the teenage girls whom she dropped at the mall nor the middle aged man whom she picked up prior to the teenagers. It could only be the lady whom she had just dropped off at the office building before she took her break.
Seeing it was an expensive card holder and that there was an address on the name card, Yuri wanted to return it to the owner.
It was two hours later when Yuri appeared at Jessica’s office. It was located on the fourth floor of a low rise building. The main reception was mainly white with only two dark coloured plush sofas at a corner. The company’s name was made of individually laser cut hairline steel and mounted onto the wall behind the receptionist. The place felt cold and unwelcoming.
Unfortunately Jessica wasn’t back in the office. Not wanting to hang around any longer, Yuri left the name card holder with the receptionist and returned to her taxi.
Beep! Incoming booking.
Yuri pressed the green button on her phone to accept the booking. The customer’s address, contact number and destination flashed across the screen. It was a five-minute drive from where she was.
Arriving at the customer’s address, Yuri slowed down as she looked around for the customer. There was slim built woman standing at the roadside and she was waving to Yuri.
“Good evening Miss Jung, where would you like to go to?” Yuri greeted with a smile.
Jessica was a little taken aback when she heard the taxi driver greeting her by her surname.
“Oh, don’t worry, I’m not a stalker. I was the one who returned the name card holder which you dropped at the rear seat the other time,” Yuri quickly explained.
Jessica’s stiff expression softened a little as she gave the address she was heading to. Yuri nodded in acknowledgment and headed for the destination.
A few minutes later, Jessica’s mobile phone rang. Jessica merely silenced it and looked out of the window.
The phone rang again. Jessica took a glance at the name flashing on her phone, silenced it and left it on the seat.
The phone continue to ring on a few more occasions and each time, Jessica ignored the calls. Her expression grew darker with each call and her brows were knitted tightly.
Yuri presumed it was the same caller and wondered why Jessica didn’t want to pick up the call. It was her third encounter with Jessica and she knew this customer wasn’t one who liked to talk.
When the taxi arrived at the destination, Yuri handed Jessica a banana as she returned the change to the latter. However, Jessica rejected the banana.
“Take it,” Yuri insisted.
Yuri held the banana in a upside down, resembling the letter “n” and said, “Whatever unhappy things that come into your path, just smile and look at it from another angle. Maybe you’ll find a new way to deal with them.”
Turning the banana the other way around to resemble the letter “u”, Yuri handed it to Jessica.
Jessica mouthed a soft “thanks” before alighting from the taxi, a banana in her hand.
Jessica was pulling out her wallet from her handbag to pay for coffee when a teenage boy bumped into her and snatched it away from her in a blink of an eye.
It took Jessica a few seconds to realised that she was being robbed since it happened so suddenly. By then, the teenger had slipped through the exit of the coffee shop and onto the main road.
Jessica gave chase, yelling for help at the top of her lungs. Unfortunately there weren’t many people around since it was past lunch time and the cafe was located on a side street.
In a distance, Jessica spotted a bright yellow taxi. She called out to the driver for help when she spotted the driver coming out of the taxi.
A high pitched voice and scream caught Yuri’s attention as she alighted from the taxi. She wanted to take a short break at the coffee shop after being on the road for more than two hours.
Seeing a teenager running in her direction with a woman’s wallet in his hand and a woman shouting for help in the background, Yuri immediately pieced two and two together and knew it was a snatch thief incident.
Peeling the skin off a banana, Yuri threw it onto the pavement and the teenager slipped on it as he was too busy turning his head to see how far he had ran away from the woman. The teenager slid and fell forward, almost missed kissing the floor as he used his hands to break his fall.
By then, Yuri caught up with the teenager and twisted his hands to his back so that he couldn’t struggle. She managed to wrestle the wallet out of the teenager’s hand as she knelt on the boy’s back with one leg in order to keep him flat against the ground.
“It’s you?” Yuri was surprised to see Jessica. She handed the wallet to her.
Jessica was panting heavily having ran a distance to catch up with the thief.
“Th-thanks…,” Jessica said, trying to catch her breath.
“You’re welcome. Hey boy, you look healthy and is able-bodied, why do you want to resort to stealing? I shall bring you to the police now!” Yuri reprimanded sternly.
“S-sorry, I promise I won’t do it again!” The boy pleaded, his eyes filling with tears.
“Let him go,” came a relieved voice.
Yuri didn’t loosen her grip on the teenager. “He stole your wallet!”
“I got it back and nothing is missing. Let him go.”
Yuri gritted her teeth. “Count yourself lucky this time.”
Yuri gave the teenager a smack on the back of his head before releasing him. The boy kept apologizing as he ran away.
“You are hurt.” Jessica lifted Yuri’s right arm gently and inspected the wound on her arm.
Yuri shrugged her shoulders. “It’s nothing much. Just a light abrasion.”
“You better get it washed else it might get infected.”
Upon Jessica’s insistence, they went back to the cafe to use the washroom. Thankfully the cafe had a first aid kit and Yuri was able to disinfect the wound and apply a plaster over it. While watching Yuri clean her wound, Jessica praised Yuri for her quick reflexes.
“Haha, a girl’s gotta learn some self defense, especially in my line of work.”
Curious, Jessica asked, “Why does a taxi driver need self defense skills?”
“At times, we may meet some nasty customers and moreover It is useful for me as a female to protect myself.”
“That’s quite true,” Jessica said, nodding in agreement. “Better go see a doctor if the wound gets worse.”
Yuri saluted. “Yes Madam!”
That action made Jessica giggle. She found this taxi driver rather amusing.
That giggle sounded like the most melodious tune Yuri had ever heard in her life. Short but sweet.
Jessica picked up her bag and rose from the seat. “I need to go back to the office now. Thanks and I owe you lunch some day. Ring me at my office if you happen to be in that area.”
Yuri made an okay sign with her hand as Jessica left the cafe. She was already excitedly thinking of a suitable day to meet Jessica to claim her lunch.
Suddenly, Yuri jumped up from her seat. She realised that she should have offered to send Jessica to her office since she was a taxi driver. However, it was too late as Jessica had just boarded a taxi and left.
“Argh, silly me!” Yuri muttered to herself as she headed for her taxi.