How many of you have ever taken a cab? Besides the smell, what do you notice about the driver? Have you ever really wondered who was driving you around? What if it were a marriage counselor? Or a rehab specialist, designated driver, tourist guide, or maybe just a friend for hire? Believe it or not all of the above are correct.
Previous TV shows you may have seen aside, the fact is that in order to succeed as a taxi driver one would almost expect a degree in some field, but the degree all taxi do drivers hold is the one on life.
When I worked as a taxi driver it was very monotonous. Pick little old lady up, take her to the store and take her home. Pick up said passenger and take him/her to pick up car from the repair shop.
Until I started working nights, then it was everything you would have expected. Picking up “johns” looking for a female friend, or picking up a buyer looking to score his next fix. Believe it or not, as a taxi cab driver, you are expected to know where the tourist spots are in your town or city, and if you wanted to be really good at your job, know where to buy drugs from. But don’t think it ends there.
When a fare trusts you he trusts you. After all you are putting your life and his life in a very real danger.
I was a taxi driver in a major city on the gulf coast, and one night I was dispatched to pick up a fare at one of the local sea yards. He got into my cab and after some small talk he told me he wanted to buy some drugs. Don’t be appalled it happens all the time. This guy had no family and spent ten months out of the year at sea. To him, his only outlet was a fix that could only be gotten every two months when he landed at any port of interest.
As a matter of legality I could not tell him where to buy drugs but I could take him to a bad neighborhood. He said ok, and after collecting my fare upfront we were on our way. Twenty minutes later I dropped him off at the corner of two well lit streets, this was for my protection. I told him to walk west down this street and if he wasn’t back in twenty minutes I was leaving. Fifteen minutes later he walked back to my cab staggering and he tells me he has been mugged. The gash on his forehead confirmed his story. He wants me to call the police so I do, but I admit I am a little puzzled as to what he is going to tell them he was doing there, after all it’s not going to be a secret.
The police show and take his statement and mine. I tell the truth because the police would know better anyway. My fare gets back into my cab and we begin the twenty minute ride back to his ship, bruised battered and beaten. This man already has to deal with his choices, I am not going to pass judgment, but right now he needs a “friend”. I act as that and in truth for the twenty minute ride, I really am his friend. He shared demons I could only imagine, and it made me thank God I was going home to my family later that morning.
I will share more stories in the future, but next time you hop into a cab just know that we do listen and we do care, even it it only makes us reflect on our own lives a bit.
My previous job as a taxi driver.