For many years, Thailand's taxi drivers have been subject to extreme criticism over their perceived rudeness, lack of courtesy and general unprofessionalism. Until now, they had been keeping a gentlemanly silence, hoping the complaints would go away, but the chorus of dissatisfaction having recently increased, one of the city's cabbies has now hit back at the whingers.
In a no-holds-barred interview, Sombat Boomroon said:
"Complaints, complaints, complaints! When are we going to get some respect around here? We do so much to promote Thai tourism, but all we get is whining."
He cited evidence of his tourism-boosting efforts.
"If someone wants to take a cab from Sukhumvit to Patpong, I often make a 'short' detour to the Grand Palace, so that the visitors can appreciate Thai architecture, culture and history, and all of this whilst keeping the meter running," he said. "But what thanks do I get? None."
"There is no fixed time to get from one place to another, is there? Sometimes a ride from Pratunam to Victory Monument might take fifteen minutes, sometimes a whole day, depending on my mood.
"I have my own particular way of doing things," chuckled the jovial cabbie, adding, as an afterthought "Who am I anyway? Their servant?"
Boomroon also lashed out at what he called "ungrateful foreigners". He raged:
"Just because they give me some money, they think they can tell me to go wherever they want. But what about my needs? Sometimes they want to go to Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy, but I, myself, might fancy a look around Mahboonkrong, instead.
"It's my choice at the end of the day, because I'm the one in the driver's seat. People in the back should just shut up and listen to my Isaan music CDs, for which, incidentally, I make absolutely no charge."
Boomroon's comments are being taken seriously by the Bangkok Metropolitan Transport Authority who hope to make him disappear soon.
Inspired by an article from the New Straits Times, Thursday, November 30, 2006 (page 14)