How did you get into the industry? I retired as a driver in 2000 from a road construction company. The pension was a really small amount, so I needed to find a job. Except for driving, a job I had for 30 years, I have no other skills. So I rented a taxi and registered as a cab driver. What's your job like? I start work before 7am and go back home for lunch at around 1pm. After three hours' rest, I drive around again until 11pm. On average, I drive more than 300km everyday and earn about 300 yuan. Each month I have to pay 3,600 yuan in leasing fees to the taxi company and 3,000 yuan in fuel. If I'm lucky, I don't have to repair the car or pay traffic fines. But this kind of luck is rare. I usually have less than 2,000 yuan to put into my pocket. I don't have holidays and I'm on the road more than 360 days a year. What difficulties do you face in your job? I always say to myself that compared with the Chinese [before 1949], who had to deal with the 'three mountains' of imperialists, feudalists and officially backed intermediaries, I am in a much worse position. I have the burden of 'six mountains' weighing on me. The first one is the government. It sets both the per-kilometre taxi price and the type of cars, which means I and other drivers with older vehicles are put in an uncompetitive situation. The second mountain is the taxi company, which requires drivers to hand in thousands of yuan each month to rent the cars. Although some Beijing cab drivers went on strike to get the companies to reduce the fees, they could never win, because of the companies' strong government connections. Third, there are the management rules, many of which I think are unreasonable, and fourth there are the traffic police - I can be charged hundreds of yuan for any tiny infringement. The fifth problem is difficult passengers. And, finally, there is my family - I have to earn enough, or my family, with two children in their early 20s, cannot survive. What kind of problems have you had with passengers? Too many people use all kinds of tricks to avoid payment. Last time, a very well-dressed female passenger picked a fight with me. She claimed my fare machine rolled over too quickly and was overcharging her. I insisted that my machine was fine, but I let her go without paying a single yuan because I prefer to safeguard our industry's image. Cab drivers are often cheated by passengers. Sometimes they say they have to get something from a building. They let us wait outside, but they don't come back. We also run the risk at night of being robbed. I feel very sad when I hear that in Beijing each month, several cab drivers are robbed or killed by passengers. So when I work late, I definitely do not pick up tall, strong men. My wife is very concerned about my safety and, no matter how late it is, she will not go to bed until I get home. Some cab drivers arm themselves with knives or electric prods. I don't use anything, but trust in my observation of people to alert me to potential danger. How's your health? At the moment I don't have any major illness, but I am worried a lot about my health. I haven't had a checkup for more than a decade, but I don't have the time and I worry there would not be much I could do if there was a problem. That's why I just keep driving, and strive constantly to earn money. I feel really low when I don't get enough business, have to fix the car or am fined by a police officer. Have you had any hard times in your life? I am from a peasant family in the mountainous area outside Beijing. I long for an ordinary life. But I don't envy some of my friends who have become much wealthier through very calculating and deliberate ways. The most frustrating time in my life was in 1996, when my then wife divorced me and made off with most of my property. I was extremely poor and had to raise our son. I remember that when I left the court on the day of the divorce, I climbed a small hill nearby and cried for an hour. Do you have any plans for the Beijing Olympics? Of course, as a Beijing citizen I am looking forward to the Olympics. But I am not sure I will be healthy enough to work then. My company is getting us to learn everyday English sentences. I don't have a middle school education and I am now over 50 years old. So it is difficult for me to remember those words.