Last night, despite the typhoon, my friends and I ran across the puddles and dived into the closest taxi we could find. As we dropped our dripping umbrellas on the floor, my friend had a feeling she’d been in this taxi before. The back of the driver’s seat was covered in photos and newspaper clippings. We took a closer took and realised it was the driver in the photos. We then peered over the front passenger seat and that’s when we noticed the instruments. Musical instruments. The driver started fiddling with his sound system. He slipped in a CD and our ears were instantly met with the melancholic waves of a classical number. This, paired with the storm outside, and the fact that we were driving through small alleyways lined with city-goers braving the rain to enjoy a hearty feast, left me with a feeling that we were starring in a perfect movie scene.
As the music reached it’s crescendo, my friend piped up- “司機，我已經坐過你的車“ (“Sir, I’ve been in your taxi before”). He immediately remembered her, and thus began their conversation about the curious life he leads.
His name is 石源 (Shi Yuan), which directly translates as the source of stone. He is a taxi driver on the streets of Taipei where he gets to meet all kind of lovely, crazy people on a daily basis and gain a little insight, a little peek into their lives.
But, 石源 is not just a taxi driver. He is an extremely talented musician and a few years ago he used to play music in a western restaurant. However, due to a change in consumer needs, the western restaurant decided they no longer needed in-house musicians. It was at this point in his life where he began driving a taxi. He loved his daily encounters with all sorts of wonderful people, but something was missing. He hadn’t taught himself how to play numerous musical instruments to just sit in a car and drive people around. Music ran through his blood and it wasn’t enough for him to just sit and listen to his favourite CD’s day after day as he explored the roads of his beautiful Taipei. There must be something more he could do?
One day he discovered a hospital that recruits volunteers to play music to their patients. This was it! This was his chance to celebrate his passion and talent for music, his chance to share it with the rest of the world, and in return help make people smile. He started playing the piano in the lobby area of National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital, and pretty soon, news spread of the gentle, kind-hearted talented musician taxi driver and his generosity. Before long his musical wings had landed him in a few more hospitals dotted around the city and now he has a weekly routine of the hospitals he visits to share his music in-
Monday 星期一12-2pm Xindian CiJi Hospital 新店慈濟醫院
Tuesday 星期二 12-1pm Tai Da Hospital East Side 3rd Floor 台大醫院東址三樓
Wednesday 星期三 11-12pm Shi Lin Yang Ming Hospital 士林陽明醫院
Thursday 星期四 11-12pm Nei Hu Third Zong Hospital 內湖三總醫院
12-1pm Nei Hu Third Zong An Ning Bing Fang 內湖三總安寧病房
Friday 星期五 12-1pm Tai Da Hospital East Side Lobby 台大醫院東址大廳
Saturday 星期六 11-12pm Lin Kou Chang Geng Medical Building 林口長庚醫學大樓
That’s his current schedule and to think that in-between all of that he still works as a taxi driver. He is a busy man and yet driving us to our destination, he seemed so calm and relaxed; I could tell he really enjoys his life.
He is a self-taught musician and believes that if you really put your mind to it, you can learn any instrument you like. He plays the piano 鋼琴, small violin 小提琴, big violin 大提琴, ukelele, mandolin, guitar 吉他，keyboard 電子琴, banjo 斑鳩琴, er hu (chinese fiddle) 二胡, yue qin (a lute with an oval or octangular sound box) 月琴, chinese flute 中國笛, accordion 手風琴, jazz drum 爵士鼓, latin drum 拉丁鼓. Wow! Could he be any more wonderful?
He has become good friends with the patients in the hospitals and some people will put aside a spare hour in their daily schedule to make a trip especially to the hospital to hear him play. I haven’t met anyone as fascinating as him in a long time. I love that he clearly gets such pleasure and happiness from spreading his love of music to people. Hospitals can be sad, eerie places, but thanks to this amazing man and his music, the atmosphere is brightened and even if just for a moment, people can forget their illnesses and just revel in the music, allowing it to wash over them and soothe them.
Once, he was called by the family of a sick lady to rush to her dying bedside and play some music to allow her to cherish her last hours. He immediately stopped what he was doing, grabbed his instruments and rushed to the scene. He did not have to do this, he had no relations to this lady whatsoever, and yet there he was, playing his violin, spreading joy to what may have been someone’s last minutes on earth.
I have nothing but overwhelming admiration for this taxi driver musician and his gigantic heart, bursting with goodness.
We need more people like him in this world.
I hope that if you live in Taipei, you too, may have the chance to stumble upon him and take a ride in his taxi. Otherwise, why not go and listen to one of his daily concerts in one of the many hospitals he frequents.
There’s something special about him. His energy is contagious and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to meet him.
Once we reached our destination, he handed us each a few tissues. The rain was getting heavier and he wanted to make sure we would leave his taxi comfortable and dry. We hopped out and wiping off the rain droplets from our arms, we peered inside to thank him once again. He nodded in acknowledgment, twisted the knob on his CD player and proceeded to select his favourite classical number to prepare for the next customer seeking a little retreat from the rain. As we shared one last smile, he drove off, not phased one bit by the typhoon that lay ahead. He had his music.
石源司機 The man himself.
You can watch him on youtube too. He has quite a few videos up there and here is a little sample-
I think it’s so cool the way he lives almost a double life. He’s like some kind of superhero. He drives a yellow taxi by night, but when the sun rises he adorns his favourite suit, complete with bow tie and top hat and off he goes to create a healing, musical spectacle.
石源, you are incredible.