During the summer of 2010, my wife and I spent several weeks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We frequently traveled by taxi. Most of the cabs were pretty old and poorly kept. However, on one occasion we rode in a cab that was very different from the norm. This cab was a bright red late model car and was spotless inside and out.
As we got in the cab, I commented to the driver on how nice the cab was and that he obviously took pride in his work. He responded favorably to that comment and we began a conversation. As we rode along I asked about his schedule of work. I also asked how many hours a day he drove the cab and if he were a native of the city. As we talked, he seemed to become more comfortable in sharing personal information and I continued asking questions.
I learned a lot about him. He only worked when he wanted to since he had retired from the police department. He had worked mainly in the special forces of the department. Then he mentioned that he was a marksman and had actually been trained by Americans in Bangkok. As I was pondering this information, he began pointing out locations where he had been sent because of a murder or a robbery in process. His job was to shoot the perpetrator.
We passed one building where he casually said that he had shot and killed four people. So as calmly as possible, I asked how many people he had killed in the line of duty. His answer was quick and concise. He said, “Overall, I have killed 84 people.” This information really shook me. My cabby was a trained and experienced assassin! I was grateful when we reached our destination.
This experience demonstrates not only the value of questions, but especially that the most interesting and memorable information is several questions deep.