“Zao!” he said with a smile. Good morning. “Where to?”
“To the international airport.”
He pulled away from the curb.
“Would you start the meter soon?” I asked.
“Oh Miss, we actually don’t use the meter for trips to the airport. Our company charges a flat fare of 888 (roughly US$30).”
“Is that right?”
“Yes, others charge 1,000 but we only charge 888. It’s a lucky number.” He said. “But if you wish, I’ll start the meter.” He flipped the switch.
“Oh, no, you don’t have to, if that’s your company’s practice. I hope you are not thinking that I do not trust you. I will need a receipt, because I need to get reimbursed.”
“I’ll give you a receipt even if we didn’t use the meter. But I have the meter on so you can see it will cost more.”
[Blink, blink. A bit awkward to continue the conversation.]
“Would you like me to take the shoreline highway or take this [street name]?”
“Eh, my flight is at 1 p.m. Which one will be quicker?”
“The shoreline, it is less congested.”
“Mr. Driver, it feels strange that drivers ask me to pick the route. Wouldn’t you be more experienced than I am to pick the best route?”
“Well, this is hang gui, the way of the trade, some guests may not be happy with our choice, they have their preferred way. We always ask to make sure the guests are not angry at us.”
We passed by several temples. I asked whether he goes to temples routinely.
He said he is a believer of Taoism. He follows the teaching of Laozi. (Learn more: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/laozi/) No, he does not go to temples often, the teaching says the believer practices the teaching in life. But he goes to mountains to look for qi, the source of energy that the earth emits, qi makes him healthy and strong. Oh no, the hot spring area I inquired does not have good spot for qi, places with sulfur does not have good qi.
We talked about health.
“I was very bad when I was young. I left home when I was 14. I did many bad things, I smoked and drank, I ate betel nuts. All sorts of bad things I did! Now I do none!”
“What made you change?”
“I don’t know, just age, temple, family, I guess. I just changed.”
He told me about stewed beef noodles and the places to eat especially good ones. He said I could call him to ask about anything in Taipei. He knows it all, because he left home at 14.
He dropped me off at the airport.
The meter read 970.