I’m flying up the Eastern Distributor from the airport towards the City, doing a hard 80 klicks. Passing through the tunnel under Dacy Avenue, I’m struck by a sudden heart seizure which throws me to the floor and wedges me under the steering wheel. But it’s cool. So automatic is this section of freeway to me, I visualise still holding my lane as we approach the next tunnel.
It’s the German tourist in the back-seat who has my attention, as he leans over the front yelling and pointing. Climbing back in the saddle I wonder what his problem is, as we haven’t crashed, nor lost speed or time. It’s the meter he’s pointing at - it’s reading $00.00. I must have knocked it on my way down, or during my brief spasming on the floor, clearing it back to zero.
‘No worries mate,’ I reassure him, ‘I’ll adjust the fare for you...’. ‘Ya, ya,’ he complains, ‘always the same. London, New York, Singapore - always taxi drivers pulling tricks to rip us off...’.
I’m dreaming of course. Dreaming on the sofa, fast asleep in front of the television. For I’ve just completed nine straight night shifts in the cab. I had a similar experience on Saturday night, early in the shift. After dropping my son and his mate at the Olympic Stadium I was overcome by a sudden dog-tiredness. Though the City was jumping with work, I pulled into the Five Dock rank, locked the doors and sank into a welcome coma. The perils of a relief driver.
After this marathon bracket I awoke yesterday morning at 9am, grabbed a cab and drove to the City for five hours of television taping by the ABC. Five hours of work for four minutes of footage on Mondo Thingo next Thursday week. It went okay, the producer was lovely, the technicians patient, and the passengers behaved themselves. However I was really tired and felt under-prepared, thinking at the end of so much more.
‘Why did you do it,’ asked a mate over dinner, ‘You weren’t paid were you ?’. Whilst true, I guess it satisfies a curiosity, a willingness to try something new, to scare oneself. Taking risks by extreme exposure, I’ll try anything once. In this case the sort of exposure which attracts money through advertising. Or so the theory goes...
‘Money,’ I told him, ‘through some website advertising or a lucrative sponsorship’. ‘What,’ he laughed, ‘so you can buy your own cab !?’. ‘That’s it mate,’ I replied, ‘get a station wagon, drive 24/7, sleep in the bastard !’. Sad really, the things cabbies dream of. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bed for three days, before arising to do it all again.