A Grumpy Taxi Driver teaches me a life lesson…

I grabbed a car this morning. I was running late and so I needed a car. My partner ordered it on the taxi app as I made my way to the pick-up area.

The driver went to the wrong pick up area despite the app giving clear directions. Beijing is cold in the morning and you don’t want to be hanging around outside for too long at this time of the year, so that was not a good start. (-4 degrees as I waited.)

Anyway, after some delay the driver turned up and, as you may have guessed… he was real grumpy.

When I got in the car my partner was on the phone to him trying to explain the pick-up area and he was being very rude to her, also as I got in the car – he was being a tad rude to me.

It’s cool, I am old enough to look at rude people and just push back or seek some way through the conversation. My tolerance levels these days are so much more than what they were in my younger days.

Back then I may have just banjo’ed him…. yep, he was being that much of a grumpy a**hole.

In between his big sighs, the mutterings under his breath, and some erratic driving, I got the feeling he was not in the best place this fine, but chilly morning.

I must add, this poor level of service is unusual for China, it’s unusual for this car company as we use them all the time and it’s unusual behaviour from the driver, even in the heaviest of Beijing traffic jams… the fact is though, the road was clear, so WTF.

But, again, I was being tolerant, maybe because of the time of year – it is just before Chinese New Year, and I had figured he might be wishing he was somewhere else, with his family, and not having to be working. Missing family time can affect your mood in a big way. (I should know as I have been unable to get back to the UK to see my children for over a year now!!)

I was being patient. I was being understanding.

But I needed a vent. So…

I text my partner the following:

“He is a nice happy driver this morning” (I was being sarcastic)

She texted me back:

“Really, he didn’t sound this way at all…. I will give him a bad comment later” (Meaning on the app review)

My follow-up text:

“We should learn how to tolerate each other in this time of crisis… he just needs some love and care from his family and he would be 1% better” (I was being genuine but maybe, again, with a little bit of sarcasm mixed with the concern of how the pandemic affects people)

Her further replies to me are what I later reflected on, she wrote:

“He should rest at home, he is not qualified for this work”

….and with a bit of fun in the air my reply was:

“If the qualification is about being a decent and nice human, then you are correct, he is not qualified for this work”

Back came her reply and clearly, the grumpy driver had been nastier to her on the phone than I could understand (it happened in Chinese):

“Some silly, old and grumpy man does not cherish the chance the world gave to them… the job he is having now could go at any moment, maybe he is not happy with this fact, but he should know the cruel fact more..”

A note at this point: my partner works in HR and because of the pandemic she has had to deal with a lot of challenges for many people in her organisation as you can imagine, so this frustration is understandable.

But, also rudeness, grumpiness is just so unusual in the service industry in China and when encountered, the reaction to it can be what is deserved. Very critical… and so it should be.

No disagreement from me on this, and not just for China. Anywhere in the world, poor service is a downer.

Chinese people are very proud of their country, their culture, and what they are striving to achieve as a nation and so they expect the best from everyone.

Grumpy drivers are not always tolerated.

But, again, I was being patient.

The grumpy driver was still violently humming to himself, tutting and giving out large sighs.

“Honey, you should still have a nice day and ignore the grumpy driver” was a follow-up text from my partner.

My patience was notched up a little and I texted back….:

“Maybe he is sick and we should look at this as a possibility for his behaviour and maybe we should always try and understand what other people are going through, rather than what our perceptions are, maybe we should tell ourselves a better story about him….”

Then came another big sigh and another under-the-breath muttering…

“Maybe” I texted again.

“…Just Maybe, he is a grumpy old man and that is just it. Maybe he is in the wrong job and would be better suited to something where he doesn’t work with the public”

He muttered and tutted again…. I was sure it was directed at me. (is he reading my texts, I thought rather comically)

“If you are going to do a job though, you should do the job to the best of your ability and not dump your rubbish onto people you are paid to serve as part of that job” – I continued with a wee bit of rage texting now!! (and for sure, still a little bit sarcastic)

Sensing a little negative shift in my mood, my partner texted back

“Any way you will never see him again after this moment so you should let him go on his merry way and we just accept he isn’t qualified”

I got my patience back in gear and agreed.

It is just one person being a grump for a moment in time as they pass through my life. Apart from learning the lesson of tolerance, managing my mood through ‘talking via text’ and learning to shift my perspective…. I also got a lesson on how people just ‘are and aren’t’ qualified for some things.

But seriously, what is the qualification here?

For my reflection, that is just it…

Some people are just not qualified to be what they are because they are JUST NOT NICE PEOPLE.

A good lesson for life.


See what China is really like in this video…!!

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