Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I’m fairly certain that Taxi drivers the world over are given a handbook with the same old stories, and the same contrary political views in them no matter what flavour of government is in power in their particular slice of the world.

They even have the same accents. No matter which country they reside in, inevitabley they can neither speak fluently in my language of choice nor the vernacular of whatever country it is in which they choose to reside.

There are of course some regional differences. In Japan your driver is likely to be wearing white cotton gloves and the door will open for you as if by magic.

In Jakarta, the supervisor at the airport will rather ominously hand you a complaint form already filled in, complete with a number to call as you get INTO the cab.

Indonesian Taxi drivers are the fastest in the world I think. 180 kilometres per hour is the norm in a rattly ford Metro between two lanes of traffic until one reaches the freeway, and then they put their foot down.

London cabbies have a mystical reputation for friendliness and honesty, which in our admittedly limited experience seems to be entirely proportional to the size of the tip offered, or confined to the pages of picture books.

But it is the blokes in Sydney and Melbourne that really capture the imagination, with their tales of derring do, sleep deprivation and dealing with passengers who may have overindulged.

I think I had the same driver on the same week day in both cities once, which rather heightened my sense of deja-vu.

Not more than two hours between journeys I was told the same tale of the difficult customer they’d had the weekend before.

It was two AM when his mates poured their rather fluid and non comprehending associate into the back seat of the car, giving the driver his home address.

Said passenger remained lifeless in the back seat for the entire journey, and both drivers assured me that they’d tried to talk to him on several occasions during the trip. On arriving at the address, they couldn’t rouse their passenger sufficiently to elicit a fare, nor for that matter to get him out of the car.

Both swore that they’d helped him out but he’d simply fallen in a crumpled pile on the footpath.

Being decent human beings, they took their passenger under their arms and half carried, half dragged them to the front door, hoping to wake someone who had enough to pay the fare. The walk up the front lawn was a difficult and frustrating one apparently, with the passenger doing little if anything to aid in the journey.

In both cases the door opened after a short delay, and a bemused spouse greeted the driver supporting an almost lifeless passenger with;

“Thanks. Where’s his wheelchair?”

It must be true, they both swore it was, and I'd never doubt a cabbie!

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