Getting around Shunyi demands some form of wheeled transport such as scooters, bikes, electric bikes, even golf carts for short distances; and a car, mini-van or a taxi for longer trips. In some residential compounds in Shunyi metered taxis do line up to wait. Funnily enough, it is usually at commercial areas where metered taxis are nowhere to be found. Enter the black cab.
A lot of people are wary about using black cab drivers for various reasons, one such reason being hiked prices for short distances. However, if you watch closely, you will see that it is generally the same group of drivers that congregate around specific areas, like Euro Plaza, Pinnacle Plaza, or any of the residential compounds. So it is easy to make any one of the drivers your regular contact if you are willing to take the risk.
Our family’s go-to guy is James Wu, from Wenshui near Pingyao in Shaanxi. Wu is a friendly guy who approaches his business with a high level of professionalism. On your first meeting, he engages you in conversation by trying out his English and immediately turning the music in his car on to an English selection. As you come out, he hands you a printed calling card with his contact information.
Establishing a relationship
We have used Wu in the past whenever he is not busy with his regular clients who he ferries into the CBD in the mornings and evenings. One particular day, we had an unexpected overlap in scheduling and my son arrived at the bus stop with no one to pick him up. I was still ten minutes away from home. As per school bus policy and my instructions, the bus monitor could not let my son go home alone. As I planned to make arrangements for my son to wait for me at the clubhouse, the bus monitor said over the phone that there was someone who wanted to talk to me. It was Wu saying he was at his usual waiting spot, that he had seen my son and overheard the situation, and would I give him permission to walk my son home. I truly appreciated his concern for my son, and the fact that he would be willing to step in for me in my absence.
From then on, Wu became our first choice substitute driver. He has taken us on short trips like to or from the boys’ school, my own school, the airport, or occasionally to my children’s activities on a Saturday. On days that we need him and he is unavailable, he goes out of his way to find a friend, another black cab guy and sends him my details.
Wu arrives a few minutes early, is always in a good mood and likes to chat about the weather while driving. He has even invested in a receipt writer, knowing that most people who ride in his car require a fapiao for taxi fare reimbursement. He is a devoted family man with two teenagers, now in high school. He says he has been able to put the children through school from his earnings as a driver.
When asked if he wouldn’t prefer to be a family driver with a steady income, he says that if his children were younger he would have considered it. But now that they are older he prefers to have free time in the middle of the day. He attributes his good health and pleasant disposition to being able to take things slow, having time to chat with friends, and choosing his work hours.
Although he waits in the ISB and Yosemite area, Wu can be contracted to do pick ups in other areas in Shunyi. As long as his time allows it, he is willing to make trips into the city as well.
Call James Wu at 136 8128 9218 if you are in need of his service. And tell him you saw him on beijingkids.
Photo by Dana Cosio-Mercado
Dana is the beijingkids‘ Shunyi Correspondent. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Beijing in 2011 (via Europe) with her husband, two sons and Rusty the dog. She enjoys writing, photography, theater, visual arts, and trying new food. In her free time, she can be found exploring the city and driving along the mountain roads of Huairou, Miyun and Pinggu.