23-year-old Muhaimin Zulkarnain was on his way back from a job interview in KL when he got into a taxi. The ride would have been like any other, had he not met the driver and had that meaningful conversation with him.
Muhaimin, who is from Johor, graduated last year and is currently working part-time at a cinema while searching for "the perfect job".
He had just completed an interview for a job as a Field Biologist, and was heading to his alma mater for an event when he managed to strike up a conversation with the taxi driver on his way there.
"The taxi driver was a very friendly and honest elderly uncle," Muhaimin recalled.
"I can't remember how the conversation started but he was very talkative and we started discussing careers and education."
The conversation took an interesting turn when Muhaimin discovered that the taxi driver has a son who studied law but is now working as a tukang potong rumput (grass cutter) in Singapore
"Upon graduation, the son couldn't find a suitable job in Malaysia to support his family," Muhaimin said.
The taxi driver told Muhaimin that some employers in the law industry were, in fact, interested in hiring new employees, but they were only prepared to offer a thousand ringgit or lesser, per month.
His son, who was a fresh graduate then, decided to go to Singapore to work as a tukang potong rumput simply because he did not want to live off his father's money. He was eager to support his family.
The son, who spent a few years cutting grass in Singapore, continued looking for a relevant job in Malaysia, but to his disappointment most employers were not interested in hiring him due to his irrelevant job experience
"He made SGD1,000 each month, which was equivalent to almost RM3,000," Muhaimin said.
According to Muhamin, the taxi driver's son worked in Singapore for a few years and collected enough money to sustain himself and his family. So, he returned to Malaysia to look for a job in the law field.
"Unfortunately for him, no law firm would want to take someone with no experience in law and has been cutting grass for the past couple of years."
With little hope left in Malaysia, the taxi driver's son went back to Singapore to continue cutting grass every day, with a promise of SGD1,000 every month.
"He may not be a lawyer but I am proud of my son because he did what he had to do to support himself and the family," the taxi driver told Muhaimin.
"Some people were saying that this type of people are lazy. How is this true?" asked the taxi driver.
"The reality is that we all need to do something to survive, especially due to the unstable state of the economy," he continued.
"Some cut grass, some wash cars. I drive a taxi. Just because people see it as a low-level job, doesn't mean it's a bad job," the taxi driver concluded.
The insightful conversation with the taxi driver came to an end as Muhaimin arrived at his destination. They bid goodbye and the taxi driver wished Muhaimin good luck.
Recalling the incident, Muhaimin said, "We do not know the circumstances that the son went through during that phase in his life. Maybe he was going through something difficult and didn't have the chance to "start-from-the-bottom" and climb up the corporate ladder."
"Please keep in mind that his father is a taxi driver, a very kind and honest one too. I didn't ask about the mother's profession, nor did I ask whether or not he has other siblings or mouths to feed. I just assumed they needed money urgently right after he graduated. So he had to do what he had to do."
"I guess some of us, including myself, are more blessed than others. We could live comfortably with our parents and live off the family's savings while we pursue our passion and gain experience in our career even though the pay isn't sufficient. But not everyone has the same privilege or opportunity," Muhaimin said.
"We all face different problems in our life and will have to find different solutions to solve them. All for a better tomorrow."
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