A young woman hailed late one night in the City. She had been out with friends - only the young and restless go out midweek in winter - and was dying to get home. They were all American, students on their gap year in Sydney, and loved to party.
My passenger was in despair at their tendency to group together rather than branch out into the community. Yet conversely they struggle to break into the Sydney girls club. It's a tough club for outsiders to crack, as they are considered competition in a town with a dearth of eligible men.
She lived with an Aussie family on the North Shore in a beautiful location with water views. The home-stay was a totally immersive experience, right down to the 'damn bus service into town'. Hence the cab home, which she couldn't afford, save for 'Grandma's credit card'.
I thoroughly enjoyed her incessant East Coast rap, starting with her large body type being an issue in a body-conscious town. “Yep, Sydney is all sun, surf and sex.” I said. “If you don't feel good in a swimsuit, you might like Melbourne. It's not obsessed with that sort of stuff.”
There was also the issue of being excluded from the inner circle when on the hunt for men. Late at night when the girlfriends moved in on likely candidates, she was reduced to 'babysitting these silly bitches'. Thence making her lonely way home to the suburbs whilst girlfriends were all shacked-up downtown. Bitches.
In the cab, the big, heavy girls are generally friendlier than the micro-mini and heels girlfriends like hers, with congenial, well-adjusted personalities. When concerns over fashion, size and sex are eliminated that youthful enthusiasm can be used to shine in other areas, like the art of conversation. She was funny, engaging and a delight to carry.
Until, that is, at the end of the street when I found her phone on the back seat and had to return...
Hoping I'd picked the right house - it was the only one with lights on - I climbed to the front door and rang the ship bell. And waited. And rang again, and waited, all the while with the sound of thumping footsteps inside. Could she not hear? Everyone else must be asleep upstairs. What to do?
After a few minutes I spotted a light coming from around the verandah and headed there expecting to find a lounge room. It was a bedroom with open curtains revealing cloths strewn across the bed. No one was there. What to do? Alarm bells rang, I shouldn't be there.
Then the front dooor opened and an older woman's voice called out, “Who is it?'' Jees, the friggin' cab was parked in the driveway with overhead flashing hazard lights - it sure wasn't Santa. If only she had opened up earlier and saved me the embarrassment of wandering around bedroom windows at night.
Once I handed over the phone and accepted her grateful thanks I couldn't get out of there fast enough. Sometimes good intentions can be plain wrong. A cabbie once told me he throws all lost phones straight into the harbour. They're just too much trouble. Agreed.