It's a pretty fair bet that once a warrior finds himself on the ground with a bouncer sitting on his chest and being punched in the head, then the fight is lost. Still, at least he can tell his mates he had a red-hot go.
Early last Monday morning I was hailed by a bunch of rowdy blokes outside the dreaded Three Wise Monkeys bar on George Street. It was pretty quiet and being short on money I decided to stop.
A fella climbed in the back, alone, whilst a mate leaned in the front passenger window and ordered La Perouse on Botany Bay. He was also large and muscled with copious tattoos covering both arms. Looking me in the eyes he snarled, “You know where La Perouse is, right?” “Of course,” I replied and turned to check the mate who sheepishly averted his gaze. He was pretty pissed.
“Has he got any money?” I asked the tattooed bloke. “He’s got fuckin’ money, don’t you worry about it. You know where ya goin’?” “Sure.” “Well make sure he gets there,” he warned, “and don’t fuck around.” Great, do a bloke a favour and get threatened.
We headed off and almost immediately the drunk slurred, “Mate, just pull-up around the corner.” “What?” “I got no money,” he said and I hit the brakes. “You’ve got nothing," I asked, "not even plastic?” "Nah, nothing. It’s best I get out here 'cause I don’t want to tell ya when we get to La-pa.” This was a refreshing bit of honesty from a penniless drunken passenger and I thanked him as he wandered off. Phew.
A few nights later I ended up at La Perouse during the wild electrical storm over Sydney. So I took a break and captured some footage of the light show over the Bay which I’ve now mixed with some Coldplay concert vision from a few weeks earlier....
This was my taxi on a recent trip to see Coldplay at Acer Arena. I only catch about half a dozen taxis each year but at least one or more will be missing a Driver's Authority. "Oh, I left it at home," or "It's in my bag", they will explain. Yeah, right.
The issue of moonlighting drivers is prevalent and may explain the constant passenger refrain of cabbies who don't know basic locations. The dishonourable Marcus Einfeld recently lamented to a cabbie mate how he had to direct a driver to Circular Quay!?
Or how about a visiting Canadian whose driver took him from the International Airport to Coogee...via Bondi. Fortunately his Aussie friends had forewarned him about 'Sydney cabbies' and so he refused to pay the extra twenty bucks.
When I was at the Ministry of Transport last year renewing my Driver's Authority I had a chat about these problems with a compliance officer. "Well," he explained, "we simply don't have enough staff to thoroughly police the industry and get rid of these drivers."
Another area of concern came via a recent email from reader, Richard...
The driver, soon after leaving the airport started talking about Mardi Gras, I told him the flight was a happy one and I thought it would be a good weekend in Sydney, although myself and my wife wouldn't be going to the parade / parties as we had other plans... the driver then started hammering in about gay people, what he thought of them, how disgusting he thought it was...As I have plenty of gay friends & couldn't care if other people are gay or straight I told him I didn't have a problem with gay people but he kept on going on about the axe he should keep in his car... to the point that he was really starting to creep me out.
As I told both Richard and the aforementioned Canadian - simply ask for a payment receipt showing full details and report such drivers for unprofessional conduct. Until the Government starts funding the MOT properly then, sadly, it's up to passengers to do the job for them. Only then can the travelling public expect an efficient and relaxing service.
Recently I was approached by a commercial radio producer about going on-air and relating tales from the frontline, the raunchier the better.
"You know, like Taxicab Confessions," he suggested and I quietly groaned. He continued, "You must get propositioned by women all the time." After explaining such proposals were rare in my taxi I offered to find him another cabbie.
A few nights later I overheard the perfect conversation for 'blokey' breakfast radio. Two fellas around 30 years old travelled into the City on a Saturday night...
A: Is Thommo coming tonight?
B: Nah, he's been sin-binned by Jade.
A: Oh, what happened?
B: He and Slugga had a wanking competition at the party last week.
B: They jerked-off out the backyard.
A: Ha, ha! That's gold!
B: Jade was really pissed off, though, she called him an animal.
A: Well, yeah. Fair enough...I suppose.
A: Who won?
A: What time?
B: Forty-eight seconds.
If any cabbies feel like taking up the radio offer send me an email for the details.
The latest news from the World's Best Job details a scandal involving a Russian girl. This Top 50 finalist really has got the X(XX) factor, sooo...what's not to like ?
Voting is currently underway amongst viewers to choose a Wild Card entry from the Top 50. One local candidate, James Hill is currently living in London and desperately attempting to gain media traction and generate votes for his application video, the most stylish of all.
James also has a Ning page featuring his classy brand of vlogging and portraiture which will resonate with anyone who has ever done time in an English winter. And thanks to James progressive music tastes I now have a groovy new band to add to my playlist!
So, dear readers, get over the fact this is a Queenslander and click those links to help build his traffic. Then do the Aussie underdog a favour and send over a sunshine vote.
UPDATE: James writes, @adrian: Blues, Waratahs & Swans. yeah born and raised in NSW, then the folks got the house in the whitsundays, so started working from there in 2002, then London in 2006.
This week reader Ben reported that a Friday night cabbie near King St Wharf refused his request for Surrey Hills. Under taxi regulations Ben insisted he be taken there but was eventually forced to wait for another cab, which on a busy night are few and far between.
The driver indicated he was looking for a much longer job, a lie, as on busy nights this is the opposite of what makes the most money. Simply put, we prefer short jobs when it’s busy and long jobs when it’s quiet.
Allow me to demonstrate this from last Monday, during the peak period of 8 to 10pm.
First I collected a young French woman at Rushcutters Bay headed for Harbour St, Darling Harbour. Due to heavy traffic I gave her the option of paying the Cross City Tunnel toll. She just shrugged and left it up to me. So I took the tunnel even though the surface route would have earned me more money.
My rationale was governed by the knowledge that being busy, there would most likely be a fare at Darling Harbour, meaning a new flag-fall of $3.10. That’s money for jam.
Within one minute of drop-off a fella boarded for the Rocks. Sweet, as there would certainly be work at the Rocks, another $3.10 and the meter ticking again. And so it went - Circular Quay to Wooloomoloo; Potts Point to Darling Harbour; Casino to Chinatown. Over the hour I took around $60 with back-to-back work.
Upon dropping the Chinatown fare a young Asian woman in Sussex Street hailed me. No worries, I thought, guessing she would be another downtown fare to continue my productive run. Instead, she nominated South Hurstville, a thirty minute run for around $50. This was the end of my good luck.
Why would I not consider this a meaty job? Because compared to the previous hour of continuous work, there was virtually no work in Hurstville at 9:30 on a Monday night. Therefore I would spend 30 minutes returning Vacant to the City, with a dead meter.
And whilst this second hour is marginally less than the first hour, over longer distances the difference is more pronounced.
It is complicated, I know, but that’s the dark art of assessing cab fares.
Around 3am this morning this American fella boarded the cab outside the Home nightclub at Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour. Some 3000 clubbers were partying at the traditional Mardi Gras after-party, appropriately called, Homesexual.
"So how was it?" I asked. "Oh, it was just awful," he lamented. "What, too crowded?" He laughed, "No, it was too gay!" This took me by surprise and I sought an explanation. "Well, don't get me wrong, I'm gay, too. But I'm really over that silly 'gay' behaviour."
At first I thought he was referring to the numerous trannies attending the event. "No, I'm fine with them." When I suggested screaming queens with their effected voices and excessive flouncing, he agreed. "Exactly. Can you recommend a bar with mature gays?' I dropped him at the Columbian hotel.
What I don't understand is why gay men, even those who are in long-term stable relationships (and thus not likely to be on the prowl for a root) still adopt the slight lisp and effete mannerisms at work, on the street, in any number of situations where they're not in the company of other gay men?
Speaking of de Brito, the Sun Herald yesterday re-published a blog post he wrote some time ago on immigrant cabbies and to which I contributed. Unfortunately there's no online link but the original can be found here.
Taxi drivers are often considered reliable sources of knowledge and everyday wisdom. Sure, some drivers exploit theintimate access to a broad cross section of society, thereby gathering a multitude of views on all topics. Yet sometimes we're simply not in the mood to chat.
A barista revealed to me this week that he always sits up front and expects to be engaged in conversation. "If not, no tip!" he stated. So I challenged him, "But why should the driver be obliged to entertain you?" "That's part of his job," he shot back. "Bullshit!" I laughed. "Only if you're lucky!"
However there are many cabbies who drive solely for the joy of meeting people and discovering what makes them tick. And let's be honest, one doesn't drive to make serious money.
Anyway, Cablog was linked this week from the comment thread of a neat article on taxi driver wisdom. The subject, Eduardo, imparts some sound advice for surviving taxi driving. Advice which has a broad application to any occupation.
His passenger is Aussie blogger Robert Gerish, a business coach, professional speaker, business commentator, consultant and author.