24 December 2008
I’d never taken much notice of taxis or taxidrivers before. Colourful characters in colourful cars. Part of the background. Lined up here and there, scurrying along city streets, minor characters in movies.
And then, when I became a cabbie myself, suddenly everything was cabs. I’d look at a line of cabs, pick out the tiniest details and point them out to my wife. I bought “Taxi Driver” to relish in Robert de Niro. I scoured the internet for taxi stories. I started my own taxi blog. I wrote copious accounts of my adventures.
I was hooked, plugged into a life I’d only guessed at before. The crackling radio conversations of codewords - suddenly they became clear.
Other taxidrivers fascinated me. We’d chat on ranks, occasionally I’d drive one home - mates rates - from a club, interstate or international cabbies would jump in at the airport. I relished the chance to swap stories with other cabbies. Each yarn would spark another memory, of runners, pukers, singers, jokers, kangaroos and caribous.
When I travelled, I’d go hunting taxi adventures, hauling my big yellow bags to a tiny yellow taxi, jumping in beside the driver in Frankfurt, Chicago, Hong Kong and swapping tales.
Hasim in Istanbul handed me his business card at the airport, with an email address of “Sultan of the Taxi”, posed with RingBear, and drove away out of my life.
Melissa Plaut encouraged me with my blog and when her superb book “Hack” was published, I bought my own copy, fresh mail-order from Amazon. I devoured the hilarious tales of a taxi despatcher in Arlngton, cabbies in Hawaii, London, Canada.
And I’m still loving it. There’s not enough hours in the day to drive a shift, read up on the blogs, and write up my own adventures. But I try.
And, in what may be a first for the cab sector of the blogosphere, my day driver Paul is tag-teaming with me. Two drivers, one car, night and day, the driver’s seat is never cold. His stories are my required reading, even when they’ve been summarised in a few words at shift changeover. He posts them in off moments from his iPhone, and he calls them Taxi Typos.