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taxi drivers

They are not all right-wing, they are not all boring and they are not all linked to organised crime. Taxi drivers are sound.

These fine men and women have to put up with us, the public, often drunk and desperate. They endure the same mind-numbing patter from us in journey after journey: patiently telling us what time they started, what time they’ll finish and whether they are getting a turn. They know stuff we don’t: like traffic light timings and short-cuts and where to buy spirits after midnight. And they see things we rarely see, such as humans enjoying kebabs and drunk women waving their shoes.

Taxi drivers work long, long hours too, hanging around hoping for fares while risking their very sanity by over-exposure to football phone-ins. Some, yes, can get too informal. In one journey, my driver called me chief, boss and, ultimately, my man. Recognising this as psychological warfare in the battle for alpha male primacy, I gave him a sizeable tip and left the car having called him squire. Word got out, I reckon, because it hasn’t happened to me since.

When it’s late and wet and windy and every bus apologises for being not in service, there is no better sight than a black hack with a yellow light, come to ferry you home. Even the fankle with the inertia reel seatbelt is okay, right then.

One day, I will ask a driver the question which has confounded us all for years: why are there names written in gold leaf on the bodywork? Lore has it that these are the names of the driver’s family members, while others suggest they are regular hires. I suspect a culture of mutual respect and that those golden names are just famous taxi drivers from the past.


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