Saturday night was particularly tough due to a shortened shift to attend a family birthday. In attempting to make up for lost time I carelessly accepted certain passengers I would normally avoid like the plague.
In particular one fare involved three young Pacific Island lads pumped on testosterone, booze and pills. Just after I had dropped a fare in the south western suburbs they called me outside a nearby party and I elected to wait. Yet subsequently, on at least a half dozen occasions I could have ejected them.
If it wasn’t drinking in the cab, attempting to blow up the stereo speakers, demanding I loan them my phone, abusing other motorists or female pedestrians or bashing my seat, it was their general antagonistic and intimidating behaviour.
In the end they paid but boy, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be the driver who took them home after clubbing all night and coming down off party substances with reduced money to get home. It was my fault for stopping there.
The other fare which was almost as hard was a young, heavily tattooed fella, also wasted on booze and pills, who barged aboard whilst I was dropping off a fare at an Oxford Street nightclub.
For the next hour I did everything short of hold his dick in order to massage his swaggering ego and empathise with whatever gripe he raised, from a disqualified driver's license to refusenik cabbies to police harassment at Stereosonic.
At the destination his debit card was declined leading to a tense standoff until a trip to the 711 finally cleared the transaction. A lost twenty minutes at my expense.
If either of these fares had elected not to pay, $70 and $100 respectively, there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it without risking my personal safety. In both these cases all I can say is thank God for the hug drug.
Actually, ecstasy may well have been invented by the taxi industry in order to neutralise the more aggressive passengers. For it’s impossible to resist the flooding sensations of a chemical rush whilst projecting the persona of a hard man.
Think of Underbelly’s Jason Moran, mid-rage, suddenly breaking for a few moments of meditation and visualisation. One minute my passengers would be swearing viciously thence without warning lapse into a bout of deep inhalations followed by the head drooping listlessly for a minute or two of silence.
These timely interruptions helped avoid lending my phone, justifying short cuts or explaining credit card charges. And once they had recovered there would be no recollection of the said challenge.
However to spend 30 or 60 minutes walking on eggshells, holding one’s breath and hoping for the best explains why some passengers are just not worth it, even under the influence of ecstasy.