My trip to London was an eye-opening one, not because of the intimidating Big Ben, but because of my newfound respect for the London cabbies. There I sat, bewildered by his puzzling speech while he spoke humbly about his hard earned taxi license. Having ferried a countless amount of both Londoners and tourists over the past 17 years, there is no street or road alien to this experienced cabbie who had ferried my family around. I had vivid memory of him gesticulating wildly with his wrinkled hands to express the hardships of passing The Knowledge- an extremely challenging geographic test of London for any driver considering to be a taxi driver.
After doing some research on my own, I indeed take my hat off to them. We seldom think twice of the cabbies who ferry us around during peak hours, often even chiding them behind their backs for their undesirable attitude. London taxi drivers are required to know the city at the back of their hands, a mind-boggling task that demands commitment, effort and patience. Imagine having to memorise all the geographical locations of all the places in Singapore, just two times more, with the fastest routes to arrive there. In an article of Reader’s Digest that covered the same topic, it states that having to take five years to complete The Knowledge isn’t unusual, and I’m certain that the cabbies-to-be face multiple setbacks from failing The Knowledge when faced with the most arduous questions set by the examiners.
In an interview with the Reader’s Digest, a taxi driver in London states that receiving the coveted green-and-gold badge of a cabbie is extremely emotional, with many successful drivers crying upon seeing their badge, a representation of the intense memorization and hard work they had been through. You might think that this is possible by just cramming information into your mind by poring over the maps of London, however perfect knowledge of the city’s routes are only gained through hands-on experiences with the city itself. Driving through various backstreet routes daily and around the city are part and parcel of preparation for The Knowledge.
These unsung heroes are indeed indispensable to the city, let’s be more appreciative of them and think twice before we make rude remarks to them. They deserve our respect for what they sacrifice to serve us, and that is undeniable.
Emma Ho (1W)