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Happy New Year, it's on me

[ 2011-02-01 13:00]     字号 [] [] []  
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On the first day of every Chinese New Year, taxi driver Gu Qingtai decorates his car with red silk ribbons and provides free rides for his passengers.

It has been Gu's annual practice for nearly 20 years.

This year, however, Gu, of Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning province, is not alone. All 60 taxis of the "Gu Qingtai Taxi Love Team" will join him by taking passengers for free.

Gu, 56, named the day of Chinese New Year his own "thanksgiving day" in 1993. He decided to take passengers free of charge to express his gratitude for his higher income.

"When I resigned from a factory and became a taxi driver in 1991, I earned 10,000 yuan ($1,500) that year, nearly 18 times the previous year," Gu recalled.

With a heart full of gratitude, Gu always does his best to help passengers.

He once picked up an old man at a hospital in 1994. When they arrived at the destination, the man, who was in his 80s, took out his wallet with a trembling hand. All of his money, including the coins, couldn't make up the 7-yuan fee.

Gu didn't take his money.

He then made up his mind that whenever he meets vulnerable people on the street, especially the disabled and the old, he would take them for free, even when they are not waiting for a taxi.

In 2000, his fame spread as he began to shuttle students from extremely needy families to the college entrance examination.

Local radio reported Gu's story and called for more drivers to join the effort.

At first, other taxi drivers thought it was just flashy showmanship, and some even tried to shoulder his car off the road.

Gu didn't respond, but kept doing what he thought was right, and he gradually earned the respect of his peers.

In 2003, there were so many like-minded drivers that Gu registered "Gu Qingtai Taxi Love Team," bringing together drivers with a strong sense of social responsibility.

At present, there are 60 taxis and 120 drivers on Gu's team from different taxi companies in Dalian. All have registered with the Dalian Charity Federation as volunteers to help the needy.

After the Dalian Charity Federation placed donation boxes in the team's taxis in 2006, passengers often put coins or even all their change into the boxes.

In 2005, Gu was elected a national-level model worker.

Officials from the local traffic administration gave him a lucky plate number, "BT8888", in the hopes that Gu's taxi can bring good luck and fortune to more passengers with the lucky number 8.

"When we live comfortably, we should think about people who are less fortunate. One person doing a good thing is like a point of light; a group of people doing good is like a beam; if all of us join in, there will be brightness everywhere," he said.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Happy New Year, it's on me

About the broadcaster:

Happy New Year, it's on me

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.