“I’m a strong believer in karma,” a passenger stated last night. “It’s a belief which calms me down whenever I’m tested.” We were talking about those occasions like road rage and fare theft which happen to taxi drivers on a regular basis.
The subject arose when I related forfeiting an earlier $12.50 fare to a scammer. She had hailed me outside a brothel in Broadway and requested downtown Darlinghurst.
Aged around fifty years old she was mutton dressed as lamb, peroxide blonde, face like a prune, hooker heels and armfuls of scrungy plastic bags.
It was an old story: first give a wrong address then abuse the driver on arrival; quickly alight from the cab claiming, ”I’ll be back in two secs,”; refuses to leave her bags in the cab; scamper into a unit block leaving me stranded on a clearway in peak hour. Ripped.
After hearing this tale my aforementioned passenger said, “The best thing about karma is you know that sooner or later she will get what’s coming to her.” “Yeah, but that’s based on blind faith,” I countered, “I'd feel much better seeing it actually happen.” Not that I wanted to punish the bitch myself but I’d sure enjoy seeing her karma delivered.*
Yet this didn’t address the other side of the coin – the inevitable karmic reward for copping daily injustices. In this case I was confident that the $12.50 would be returned.
Sure enough, within the hour, two consecutive fares each left $5 tips. That’s karma.
* An Aussie example of macro karma, required reading for aspiring bloggers.
We all know about that photographer, Bill Henson. Well, on the weekend I read an online opinion which claimed that given he specialised in photographing naked teenagers, then his work was derivate and thus redundant. Not fresh. Now I fear my constant recording of Oucha will be deemed derivative and redundant. Oh, the shame.
This time yesterday, dawn, I almost shut down the blog. It had been that sort of week.
Feeling lousy with the first flu since quitting smoking, I managed to delete my email Inbox folders. Please, no one ask when was the last time I backed-up, okay ?
However that was just a warm-up for the next episode: accidentally formatting a hard drive containing copious documents, images and videos from the last eight months.
No worries now, though, as last night the mighty Magpies smashed the Cats and the Dragons found the odds right to have a go at Manly. Oh, plus I've just remembered there's now 640 bucks in an envelope from cigarette money collected every Saturday.
It is always amusing when masters of the universe decide I need to know exactly how rich they are. It’s as if they believe their excessive wealth somehow confers automatic credibility and unquestioning respect. Hah!
Twice last night I carried passengers keen to establish their financial credentials. Sure, both had been drinking but sober or not, this is Sydney where it’s almost de rigueur to boast about such things.
Indeed, I’ve had friends do the same thing so why would strangers baulk at big-noting themselves to a taxi driver. It’s not like every cabbie has a blog, a camera and readers.
The first bloke started off by bitching how hard it was to retain trustworthy management for his burgeoning multi-million dollar business. Initially he presented the argument in relation to wanting to spend more time with his son.
By the time we stopped outside his waterfront mansion he’d managed to gratuitously convey how many properties and cars he owned; his monthly turnover; his greedy family; blah, blah, blah. Though being only thirty five years old his crassness was easily forgiven.
The second fella, however, aged around forty years old should have known better. An early surprise came with the unsolicited announcement that he was a Queen's Counsel. I guess if Lefty can make barrister by age thirty anythings possible for hotshot lawyers.
My passenger bragged of an art collection ‘worth three million dollars’. Woooh, I almost mocked. Plus he'd purchased oil and mineral shares back when they were relatively cheap, information revealed after the leading question, “How are you cabbies handling the fuel costs?”
Even classier was mention that his 'ex-wife' is the beneficiary of the stock. "As it should be,” he blithely added. What made this comment so stylish was the fact he was travelling with a Kings Cross hooker back to his chambers in the legal district, after midnight.
Yesterday evening I demonstrated the N95 to a handicapped fella, explaining the many time-saving features. In particular he was excited to learn the device is free on Vodafone’s $49 Maxi plan and alighted happy he’d finally found a replacement phone.
Another grateful passenger was a 19 yo kid with no money facing a five kilometre walk to Epping Station. At 11pm he was en route to the Central Coast after a 9 hour shift at a call centre. How could I not drive him to the station - it was on my way, there was no work, what the hell.
At 1:30 am a young woman out of a finance tower fell into the front seat and dutifully ignored me for a short fare to Kings Cross. Why sit up front, I thought, only to brush me with an IPod. For some reason I recalled the Banker and a sense of dread enveloped me, though not for long. At her destination she paid the $8 fare with a $12 tip. What a gal.
A woman in radio; another in television; a Japanese business couple; an Irish lass to Manly; an Irish journalist to the inner west; some of the interesting fares from last night. Granted it was generally light and cursory contact but still, they were invigorating and positive encounters. Good for the soul, that’s cab driving.
I reflected upon this after dropping the last fare at 2:30am. He’d come from a bar after work, though wasn’t drunk, just relaxed. Relaxed enough to change seats and join me in the front after stopping for bread at a 711.
For some reason he felt compelled to justify his nocturnal routine. “I love living by myself...coming home when I want,” he said, without conviction. After establishing that I too was finishing work, was the same age and divorced, he became animated, sparking off the coincidences. But this just seemed to underline his loneliness so I changed the subject.
“Mate,” I announced, “I gotta go” and immediately felt lousy as his kindly face failed to mask the disappointment. Instead he offered a tender handshake, thanking me for possibly the only agreeable chat he’d had all night.
The bloke would enjoy driving cabs, I thought on leaving. A chance to go home happy and content, nourished by his encounters.
Once I heard the writer, Norman Mailer opine that real happiness is taking an active interest in one’s environment. Mailer also once stabbed his wife but she forgave him.
Cablog reader and Sydney cabbie, Rainer, sends a harrowing tale from the frontline,
I know you enjoy Adrian's stories but tonight I feel compelled to tell one myself. Stuff like this happens to cabbies all the time and I would like you to know what the average taxi driver has to put up with trying to make a living.
Last night I was driving down Balmain Rd in Leichhardt at 11.50 pm, with my nice passenger Tom, who is very tired from a big week and looking forward to a good night sleep.
As we approach a speed hump near Moore Street I see a group of about 10 young punks, aged 13 to 15 standing on both sides of the road, rushing towards me as I slow down. The feeling in the back of my neck tells me that something is about to happen
Soon enough I see two fellows on the left rushing towards the cab and throwing stones at the windscreen. What escapes me is the other 3 on the right who carry and throw a 5 foot garden fence [metal] into the windscreen, which wraps itself around the roof sign after showering Tom and myself in glass.
As I slowed down I looked in the rear view mirror which showed 10 kids rushing towards me, and I realised Tom and myself would be dead meat if they caught us. So I gunned it looking through the holes in my windscreen.
Tom certainly was awake by now, showered in safety glass like me, but fortunately for him not bleeding from tiny cuts like myself.
Now I don't want to play the harp here, but I'd rather tell you people and let off some steam and keep it quiet from my wife who would get upset and worry every time I said goodbye to her after dinner.
Unfortunately stuff like this happens to other cabbies on a regular basis, including abuse, racist slurs and fare evaders. And most of us are the working poor. Show me the cabbie who heard of superannuation or private health insurance and I show you an owner, not a driver.
But then, as the old cabbie whom I met soon after said to me, shit happens. Sadly for most cabbies, it happens all too often. Yet on a daily basis I hear what bastards taxi drivers are and I wonder why.