Diary of a PhD Taxi Driver: True Stories From Singapore’s Most Educated Cabdriver

I recall that this was very big news around 10 years ago. Basically, the author Dr. Cai Mingjie was a research scientist with a PhD from Stanford, specializing in Life Sciences (biochemistry and cell biology). However, he was fired/retrenched at the height of his career, for reasons that were largely unknown. He did not manage to find a job initially and became a taxi driver in November 2008, which he persisted for around six months. (He managed to find another job, though non-academic, subsequently.)

He started a blog called “A Singapore Taxi Driver’s Diary” (now deactivated), which became hugely popular. Subsequently, he published his blog as a book which is featured below.

For a free preview of his stories, one can actually click on the Amazon book preview to read a couple of the short stories. The stories are quite insightful, and motivational in a way. Taxi drivers have a unique perspective since they are able to observe all strata of society on a daily basis.

The free preview on Amazon has the following stories:

  • Day One (first day of working as taxi driver)
  • Broken Barrier and Two Unforgettable Customers
  • Preface & Epilogue (which describes the interesting background of the author)


Diary of a Taxi Driver: True Stories From Singapore’s Most Educated Cabdriver

Overall, the author deserves deep respect for being 能屈能伸, being able to take temporary setbacks; able to bow and rise at will. After all, being a taxi driver is a honest job.


I think the above book and news represented the start of the “bursting of the bubble” of Life Sciences, at least in Singapore. (If a life science researcher with Stanford PhD has problem finding jobs, how about those with lesser qualifications?) For those who recall, life sciences was hugely popular as a major around 10-20 years ago (2000-2010). Many JC students, including many of my classmates/acquaintances would choose it as their major in University. The life sciences department was one of the largest compared to other sciences like Physics or Chemistry. It turned out that the job opportunities in Life Sciences was not that plenty, and many would end up in careers totally unrelated to Life Sciences / biology.


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