Sunday, January 11, 2009
Little Poem About Taxi Driving
Well, taxi drivers are scum bags. Now I know you’re a scum bag. Worse. You’re a whore. A pimp and a whore under one roof. And you’re a fucking little sociopath. These credentials are impressive, but won’t necessarily make you a good taxi driver. You might look the part, if you weren’t so goddamn cute. A few more years of drink and drugs will take care of that. Anyway.Taxi drivers are scum bags. They lust only for whores and gambling. They like to fight. They like to kick jerks out of their taxi. They are jerks. They’re not nice to women and children, Arty types don’t make the grade. They’re sheep in taxi driver clothing. A real taxi driver is a full time son of a bitch. He may or may not know how to speak great English, but you can bet he’s a talking asshole in any language. The son of a bitches will never grow up. They don’t want real jobs. They’re eternal boys, which is to say your average irish fellah, except they do it for a living.Have a beer.Taxi drivers take the worse shit a man can take and get paid for it. Mercenary killers are higher on the ladder. So are whores when it comes to selling your ass. A taxi driver is a legal criminal. Something like a lawyer, same branch of pedestrianism. Know what they call a taxi driver without a hangover? A nonsequitur. No such animal. You’d fit in there pretty well. Drugs too. You gotta take lots of drugs to be a taxi driver. But know how to handle them. Combine them like an alchemist. The best taxi drivers can shoot a goofball in their neck going sixty in heavy traffic and the passengers won’t even notice. You’d do alright there too.Where was I?Oh, yeah. The most important part - and I don’t know if you fill the bill here. We’ll see - a taxi driver’s gotta know how to push a taxi. If you can’t pass a taxi through the eye of a needle, you ain’t no taxi driver. The taxi’s gotta be an integral part of you. It has to fit like a glove, hang like a genital, bounce like a tit, shit like an eagle, fly like a demon, burrow through the city like a rat in a garbage heap and come out shining. You gotta be able to sneak up on a fare like a pickpocket. You gotta squeeze through double parked cars like toothpaste. There can’t be more than the distance between the hem of a whore’s skirt and her snatch between you and sleepwalking pedestrians. You gotta have nerves of steel and the patience of a toad. Otherwise you’ll crack up. You’ll get fired or end up in a fireball on the motorway. Taxi driving is magic and you gotta master the automatic pilot. If you’re the type of pedestrian who bumps into other people on the street, probably you won’t make a taxi driver. Got it? Now’s for the passenger. You gotta put meat in the back seat. That meter’s gotta be running or you ain’t going to make it. You’re going to sweat blood to find the bastards and eat shit when you do. They’ll put you through the ringer. “Driver, where you taking us? This isn’t the right way. I’m taking your number. The garda will hear about this!” They’ll get out after chewing your ear off and stiff you. The ones you’ve given the best service to. The insult cuts like a knife and the stiff knows it. It’s hard out there these days. People are frustrated, powerless like they were in Hitler’s Germany. They make their little power plays wherever they can. You got to shrug your shoulders. Keep your armor shining. Keep the meter running. You’ll be a true blue misanthrope in no time. Just take a few hundred of the bastards around on Saturday night and you’ll see what I mean. They get in smelling of toothpaste, deodorant, perfume, mouthwash. You’ll pick them up a few hours later reeking of garlic, alcohol, digesting food. A rich nauseating stink of momentary happiness. They’ll scream in your ear and tell bad jokes. The assholes will test your patience. They’ll spill drinks, vomit, ejaculate and fight like cats and dogs. You’ll get real familiar with the hose and the rag. You pick them up overflowing with gaiety at the beginning of the evening and drop them off at the end angry, depressed, gibbering drunk. You’ll hear the same selfish, petty, narrow-minded, ignorant, misinformed, vicious conversation repeated over and over. Every one of the bastards thinking their situation is unique. Planning kids, marriages, and careers before they know how to tie their shoes. It’s the same everywhere. The big muddled blueprint of the herd. Now you’ll have some fine human experiences, the kind that flood you from head to toe with a warm sense of beatitude. You’ll pick up the father who’s just watched his wife give birth. You’ll pick up the widow who’s just watched her husband die. You’ll pick up the ones that have been stabbed and shot and raped and take them to the hospital. You’ll take them home later bandaged from head to toe. You’ll pick up the guy on his way to the bridge to jump. You’ll pick up the young lovers and you’ll wipe off the back seat when they get out. You’ll pick up a thousand sob stories and broken hearts. You’ll pick them up by the tens of thousands and they’ll all give you the same corny lines. The hopeless banality of it all will sicken you like the smell of rotten meat. But the taxi driver has to put up with it. He gets the big picture. He gets the whole stinking overview. It’s okay for the passenger who experiences reality from one point of view. But a taxi driver sees it like the Buddha. He’s got to cultivate the sewer. Another beer? Sure, sure. Go ahead. Have a line. That’s what it’s there for. Don’t interrupt. I keep losing my train of thought. Everybody’s desperate. Everybody’s got guns. They’ll shoot you in the back and ask questions later. You gotta have your radar on. A map of the city’s gotta light up in your brain. You gotta see not only where the fare is when I call it, but the fare that ain’t called. You’ll see a fuzzy area where the danger is. It’ll come as a stink or a bad taste in your mouth. You gotta size up a killer from several blocks away before you can see his eyes. Gotta see how he’s standing. How he’s dressed. How he signals you. If he’s hiding something, it’ll show. A sick light will burn a hole through the map. You’ll pass him at sixty. Only then will you see the ozone in his eyes. The blank hole which is the enemy. Hermes won’t fail you here. Take my word for it. That’s why I don’t put no fucking cage between you and the back seat. If you’re stupid enough to pick up a cemetery run, you shouldn’t be driving in the first place. There’s something else. You gotta be a good Christian. You gotta be nice. A real sweetheart. You gotta be kind as a bloodthirsty bat at a prayer meeting. Clever as a praying mantis in some rich matron’s crab salad. Somebody different for every asshole that gets in your taxi. Oldest trick in the world. All holymen are hip to it. You gotta be what they want you to be. Then you’ll succeed. I mean you gotta be nasty when it’s necessary. But not lowbrow nasty. You gotta score. And you don’t score with cheap shots.Another thing you should keep in mind: Taxi driving is contagious. Once you’re addicted, it’ll eat you inside out and spit out the pit. You won’t ever want to go back to a regular job, that is - if you’re a true taxi. Of course I know you’re a whore. You already know the business from one angle. It’s like religion. Eat at some holy trough while the head monk sticks it to you. Anyway, as I was saying, the virus is lethal. You’ll find you can’t function without the taxi. You’ll hate it. Take a day or two off and you’ll be longing for your ride. It’s like drugs that way. Taxi driving will eat your soul and there won’t be anything else for you.Guess that about covers the details. Only thing you have to do now is get out there and get to work. And I told you not to ask questions. Just follow orders and don’t worry. I’ll tell you what you need to know over Radio Two. Just keep your ears open. I’ll be talking to you.Now hit the road.