Friday, May 4, 2007


"Hello do you need a taxi now?" asked a polite but robotic girl on the other side. My initial thoughts were that I actually needed a taxi thirty minutes ago and is it not bloody obvious that I pressed '1' to get a cab now?

"Yes. Now please." I asked through my gritted teeth.
"Certainly sir. What's your name sir?" she asked.
"Mark," I replied.
"Ok. Mr. Mark,"
"Actually. Its Mr Ashworth. My first name is Mark,"
A short silence followed from the confused hotline assistant, which was eventually broken by the sound of sawdust falling onto a workbench in a nearby factory in Johor Bahru.

"What is your pickup location?" she bleated, as I contemplated whether I had engaged in a more intelligible conversation with the automated machine when I first dialled.

"Bukit Panjang," I said in my most neutralised accent.
"And where are you going to?" she asked.
"Tanjong Pagar," I replied digitally.
"Please hold for taxi number," was the next line that she bleated. Then that was it. The conversation had cut off and I was now listening to a third machine telling me to wait five minutes for the arrival of my taxi.

"Many thanks." I politely told it, "and I wish you a jolly good day Mr Machine."