After the wonderful “being a cosmonaut” taxi-story, I am happy to present you:
An Ambassador in Singapore
A story by Michal Linial
It was a long trip, 4 days in Singapore. I visited the tallest artificial waterfall in the world, and went on a night safari with artificial moon light. Well, time to go back home to reality. Before leaving my hotel, I made sure that I had enough money for a taxi ride to the airport. Due to last minute extra taxes, I found myself with only 15 Singaporean Dollars (~ 10 $ US). In the hotel, they promised me that it is more than enough. I entered the Taxi and immediately mentioned that I have 15$.
In the next 30 minutes my taxi driver explained that he actually does not want these 15$ at all. At the matter of fact, he is honored to take me to the airport as a treat of the Singaporean people to their distinguished guests. He said: ”I want your memories from Singapore to be enjoyable so you will tell everyone to visit us, and so you come back as well”. I was impressed. He continued: “my real satisfaction is to be the ambassador of my country”. He even went into some psychological arguments: “Can you remember the last time you were in Paris, can you tell me who took you to the airport?” I admitted that I did not remember, and then he continued: “Can you remember who took you to the airport from Jerusalem only 5 days ago ?” I had to admit that I did not remember any of this…and then he made his last point ”You will always remember me and you will want to come again to Singapore just because you met people like me”. Indeed, I was so impressed and vaguely remembered the Israeli slogan “HASBER PANECHA LATAYAR”, which is no longer relevant… I promised him that I would cherish these memories forever.
We arrived at the airport, my ‘ambassador’ helped me carry my heavy luggage, he shook my hand and immediately said, “I can take whatever you want, 50 US Dollars, or 50 Euro and I do not even mind 50 UK pounds”. I did a quick calculation to sort all these attractive alternatives and humbly offered him my 50 US $. My taxi driver added “But this does not include your heavy luggage.” I replied ”I can give you the 15 Singaporean Dollars.” My ambassador answered without hesitation: ”No way, I want you to have good memories and save them as souvenirs for your kids”.
Well, as you see I have not forgotten him, and he was right, this week I fly back to Singapore.
A poster with the slogan: “HASBER PANECHA LATAYAR” (This means “Be nice to the tourist.” The poster also hints at the literal translation: “explain your face to the tourist.”)