My Unusual Stories with Online Drivers — Part #2

Husni B.
5 min readAug 13, 2021

#2 Unexpected Journey in Bandung

I have told in the previous story what I did in this beautiful city, which is Rejected, But I’m Proud Of It!. In fact, there are stories that I didn’t tell, my experience of using an online taxi as my transportation.

Long story short, during the day when I landed at the city station, I didn’t know where to spend the night. Usually, the mosque is my favorite because it does not cost money to spend the night there. After a few minutes of seeking the mosque that was closest to the location where I would be interviewing the next day, I got out of the station to look for public transportation to get there, because the cost is surely cheap. But after a few kilometers on foot, I was confused about which route to take, after thinking for a moment I decided to order a taxi online because it was late afternoon. But when the driver came to me, it turned out that he used Sundanese and it seemed a little hard for him to use Indonesian as I do so we don’t talk too much while on the go.

A normal day suddenly became a little tense when he told me that our destination only had one access to get into the area and was heavily guarded by local drivers who have a bond that is not quite friendly with online taxi drivers. Sure enough, when we got to the alley, dozens of local drivers were already on guard. Then my driver tried to negotiate with them which I certainly didn’t understand because they used Sundanese. After my driver negotiated with them, a horrifying thing happened, I was not allowed to continue the ride with him and it had to be continued with a local that was there which made me have to pay twice.

The cloudy afternoon sky added to the unpleasant feeling of being there, no evening light adorned my afternoon. When I arrived at my destination mosque, the atmosphere was quiet and dim in the middle of the residential area that I felt. After resting for a while and looking for a reference for dinner later, drizzling rain flushed this place at dusk. After I thought it had died down, I ordered another online motorcycle taxi to take me there. But sadly, the driver refused it because he knew that the area where I was under strict guard by local drivers and highly prohibited for him to be visited.

I had thought in my mind to get out of this area but a pretty far distance made it impracticable. When I walked a few steps out of the mosque, it turned out that there were lots of places to eat lined up along the road that I didn’t recognize before. But strange, the mood was not at all crowded, just the darkness of the night and only the lights of the traders illuminating the night. I didn’t even see many of the locals like a dead area turned on by food merchants. But my starving belly ignored it all, after walking all the way it felt like I had figured out what plan I would do tonight. I opted for a fried rice seller not far from the mosque to fill my belly and a small house at the end of the street that was converted into a coffee shop for writing and relaxing. After my belly full filled, it’s time to relax my mind followed by a cup of coffee. I was the only customer at the cafe that night. I chatted with the owner and told them why I stayed here tonight, I felt so warm when they prayed for my next day.

Time keep going on, it was getting late and they were getting ready to close and I had to leave right then. Because it was so cold, I thought of sleeping inside the mosque and luckily 1 out of 3 doors were unlocked so I could sleep warmly.

In the morning while I was writing stuff for the interview at midday, someone came up and interrogated me. It turned out that he was the person in charge of this mosque, and told me that I needed permission to spend the night here. Because this place is prone to theft, they are vigilant against unknown visitors. After he asked me a lot of questions and I explained everything as is, he asked me to take a picture of my ID card just in case. The day that was originally soothe became a little tense, again.

After lunch, because I couldn’t order a taxi online, I had to use a local driver who gathered not far from the mosque and followed by rain while on the way to the office. In the afternoon, after all the things are done. Time to head to the town square to recharge from exhaustion. Finally, I was able to order an online taxi again, which has a cheaper price than what the local driver offered and that’s why I prefer to use online services.

After sunset, I stepped a little through the city while looking for a place to fill my belly. After that, I continued walking to find a cafe to stop by. I don’t think I need to tell you again in this part because I’ve told it in the previous stories.

Long story short, because I didn’t want to be in a hurry when my return train arrived, I headed for the city station 1 hour before the train’s arrival. Of course, I ordered an online taxi to get there. To ease my sorrow while at the cafe before, I tried to talk with my driver. The light talk turned blue as the driver told his misery.

The current online system was greatly decreased productivity as a driver. In the previous system, he was allowed to take as many taxi orders as possible. But in the new system, it is only allowed once an hour. So that previously he could receive orders up to more than 20 to no more than 15 orders he could receive. That’s what makes him have to extend his working hours to reach his target and that’s why I was able to be given a ride by him even at midnight.

Sometimes I’m feeling miserable when I know that I live the hardships of this life alone. It turns out that there are many people out there who are suffering too in their life. It’s enough to make me feel better knowing that I don’t face this life alone.

Continued in part #3