Melbourne yesterday, post-wake. An unusual day, like wearing a suit, travelling on the 'wrong' side of a taxi. A suit may project power, confer authority, demand respect...until boarding a cab, the great leveller. For a cabbie, an interesting & worthwhile experience.
Early Sunday evening I collected a young fella around twenty years old from South Sydney Juniors, an working class club in Sydney’s south eastern suburbs. He was dressed in Souths Sydney football colours and requested I take him home to Maroubra.
Entering his neighbourhood I asked, "Doesn’t Bob Carr live around here?" "Yeah, a couple of streets away," he replied. "Suppose you run into him down at the Maroubra Bay Hotel," I joked, "knockin’ around with the Bra Boys?" "Hardly," he laughed. "Though I do see him being driven around the place."
Our former State Premier doesn’t hold a vehicle license. But then why should he? Former Premiers and Opposition leaders receive many free perks, including chaffeured transportation.
The passenger revealed that his father didn’t trust Carr. "Why not?" I asked. "Aww, mainly because he doesn’t drive. The old man don’t trust anyone who doesn’t drive. He’s warned me never to bring home a girl who doesn’t drive. He reckons if she’s too lazy to get off her arse and get a license, then I’ll spend the rest of my life cartin’ her around." That's tough love in Maroubra.
Yesterday I kicked off the shift by heading to a rugby league fixture at Olympic Stadium - South Sydney vs Parramatta. Within minutes I’d collected a fare to Redfern, bingo ! Way to go on a quiet Sunday afternoon, forty bucks, thanks very much.
The passenger, a fella around thirty years old with ‘one red eye and one green eye, mate’, was a tough guy in the hard working class tradition of South Sydney. Get a result ?", I asked. "Too bloody right," he said. "Put five grand on the Bunnies at $1.75." "What about yesterday," I asked, "did you jag the double with the election ?" "Phfft ! Wouldn’t waste my time backing those idiots." "But aren't you a Labor man ?" "...‘ken oath - 'dem Libs cancelled remissions."
(A final Cabpoll from last night's shift will be posted today on the ninemsn election page)
Late yesterday afternoon a middle-aged fella climbed aboard in the City and requested Newtown. Surveying the gridlocked traffic he leant back in the seat and smugly stated, "This is why I moved out of Sydney - you don’t get this in Adelaide." Fair enough.
However the mention of Adelaide to a cabbie raises the topic of sexual assaults on taxi passengers in that city. From my daily reading of a world taxi news digest, it would appear that per capita, Adelaide currently leads other world cities in this statistic.
Over the last nine months there have been some 35 reports of sexual assaults on female passengers in Adelaide, with police investigating an additional 20 assaults prior to 2006. Despite the creation of a special police task force, reports of assaults continue.
This had led to the fitting of dashboard stickers in cabs bearing the taxi registration number. I mentioned to my passenger how it was puzzling the taxi networks could not locate the accused cabbies using a vehicles’ GPS. He responded, "That’s because many drivers disable their GPS and on-board cameras".
If true, what’s the point of installing mandatory security devices if they're not policed ? Who's regulating South Australia’s taxi industry ? The passenger confirmed Adelaide taxis were now considered a last-choice option by many women. They deserve better.
Here's another update to bring readers up to speed. I've just delivered my final Cabpoll on the NSW Election to ninemsn's Election site, all viewable on the one page. That makes six over the last two weeks in a pretty ordinary campaign for voters. Passenger feedback indicated they would have happily supported my suggested Raving, Looney, Cabbie Party, such is their lack of choice !
On the home front Mum continues her convalescence in a rehabilitation hospital. This plus two deaths in one week of dear Aunts in Melbourne, means I'll be travelling south early next week. Look for daily moblogs then.
Sadly, another significant blow this week has been the passing of wonderful Californian blogger, CathySeipp, the only US blog I regularly visited. Cathy's daughter, Maia blogs.
Three weeks into the sabbatical and it’s time for a quick update. This period has been overtaken by events on the home front plus a major blog development. After 57 years living in the family home my aged mother has decided to relocate to a nursing village.
Besides dealing with the emotional aspect of selling the home, Mum has unfortunately ended up in hospital after sustaining back injuries, alighting from a taxi ! Unbelievable. It never rains...as they say.
At the same time I’ve been invited to supply content on the NSW election for Australia’s largest newsite, ninemsn. This material is in the form of my popular category, CABPOLL. With only ten days or so remaining to the March 24 poll, it’s envisaged some half dozen CABPOLLS will be posted. So feel free to check it out at the ninemsnNSW election page.
Finally, many thanks for readers' best wishes and patience over this period. Despite endless shifts the blog break has certainly been helpful and I’m now angling for a short holiday after the election. Looking forward to sending some rural posts from paradise. Cheers, Uncle A.
UPDATE : Is anyone's browser only showing four posts on Cablog's front page ?