HE’S had passengers tell him off, dealt with drivers’ road rage and even returned a wallet with $3,000 he found on the roadside while driving. But nothing could prepare Mr Colin Hey for a female passenger giving birth in his cab.
“It was over 10 years ago but I still remember the incident. A pregnant Malay woman got into my taxi at Eunos Crescent and told me to rush to KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Just before we reached the hospital, I heard a baby’s cry... I turned back and the baby was on her lap. My heart was pounding so hard!” the 57-year-old ComfortDelGro taxi driver said with a laugh.
Despite the dramatic incident and the occasional stressful moments, Mr Hey enjoys every minute of his job. However, that wasn’t the case when he first took the wheel of a taxi. Forced to wind up his printing business of 14 years when the Asian Financial Crisis hit in 1997, he became a taxi driver to make ends meet while looking for another job. Little did he know that the crisis would be a blessing in disguise.
He settled into the taxi driving job and now, nearly two decades on, says: “I love my job and I enjoy meeting new people every day. I like having control over my working hours.
“When you’re in the driver’s seat for long hours, you may feel stressed and uncomfortable. It’s not good for your body. I try to change my position when I start feeling uncomfortable. If there’s a long wait at the traffic light or for my passenger, I will do some stretching in the car. Sometimes, when I have some free time, I will also get out of the car for a stretch. I also brisk walk for about 20 minutes after lunch before I start the engine again!”
As for the rare issue with passengers, he deals with them with a positive mindset.
Mr Hey shares: “Once, a preschooler dropped his opened canned drink. I looked back and his father challenged: ‘Why did you look back? Are you worried that we dirtied your taxi? Don’t worry, I won’t dirty your taxi!’ He continued scolding me after that.
“When the man had calmed down, I told him: ‘Sorry sir, when your son dropped his drink, I turned back to check if you needed assistance. I never intended to find fault with you.’ The customer later apologised for overreacting and even gave me a tip. That was a very memorable experience.”
The affable senior also steers his cab for a noble purpose – to serve the less fortunate in society. Since 2009, Mr Hey has been a volunteer with the CabbyCare Charity Group, comprising 300 Comfort and CityCab cabbies who seek to provide love and care to the less fortunate.
CabbyCare’s community projects include delivering food to the needy and library books to the elderly, as well as providing transport for needy children and elderly to and from home and hospital on a case-by-case basis.
Mr Hey used to volunteer his taxi services for these projects up to three times a month. Now, as the incumbent Secretary of CabbyCare, he focuses more on planning and coordinating new community projects alongside four other committee members.
Displaying his compassionate side, he adds: “I find it very meaningful as I’ve always liked to do charity work. And I’m glad I can use my taxi to extend a helping hand to the poor and needy.”
This story is part of an 'Everyday Heroes' series. To read our previous story featuring bus captain Elizabeth Choong, click here.