Sunday, 26 February 2012
A Driving History 5- The 87 Cutlass, The Cab
It was 1998, and I needed a job, so I went and got a taxi license. I went to work for Checker Cabs, and then I followed the advice of my brother, and arranged a rent agreement with the owner. I think it was $45/shift. I worked nights, four days a week.
It was an 86 or 87 Cutlass. It was my first time driving a propane powered vehicle, and it did seem cheaper to run, but of course that was in Canada. I used to proudly proclaim it was the oldest car in Checker's fleet.
I have alot of little stories in that car. Some good, some bad. A couple times I felt threatened. Sometimes I'd help someone out. It was uplifting, and depressing.
A stripper once flashed me her breasts. I'd get offers of blowjobs for rides (never took them up on it). I'd give the odd free ride out if someone had a particularly sad story to tell me- I did that once for an abused woman who was on her way to the shelter, for example.
I remember getting one ride from Whyte ave to over by the Coliseum, he was being severely unkind, verbally abusive I thought, to his date. I dispensed with the small talk and kept my silence, not liking this guy. I do remember him saying that he liked a driver that kept his mouth shut. Didn't help my tip, but.
There was a time, also over by Fort Rd where I dropped three guys off, but not before one of them made a comment about robbing me. They threw the money at me and left, much to my relief. The nights did eventually blur into one another, and as I got to know the job better, I did get into something of a routine.
I have this one story that would impact me in a small way for the rest of my life to date, though. I had picked up this fare on the northside and had to drop him off downtown. It wasn't a particularly big fare, but he got to talking about his favourite cigars.
They were Honduran Punches. Big thick cigars. As he enjoyed one in the back seat, he said, " (Winston) Churchill used to smoke these. He had a little debating trick he used to do. He would shove a very thin wire down the centre of the cigar before the debate. As he engaged his opponent, he would smoke the cigar. The ash got longer and longer, but it wouldn't fall of the thing no matter how it was moved. By the end of the debate, many of his opponents were far more interested in the ash and when was finally going to fall off than in his words. As they lost the thread of his argument, Churchill would move in for the kill. "
When he got out of the cab, he gave me one, as a tip. It was a $20 cigar. And I enjoyed it when I smoked it, after my shift. Its funny, though. I have since smoked Jamaican, Cuban, and Costa Rican cigars to name a few, but I still, to this day, prefer the Honduran cigars.
I quit driving cab on the winter 0f '99. A cab driver in Edmonton was getting beat up or killed every week. My wife and I decided the job was too dangerous. I went back to school, eventually earning a Bachelor degree in business management.
To an extent, though, I miss the job. There were some things about it I enjoyed very much.