I think cab drivers are a microcosm of the larger society and that if a sufficiently large sample is analysed, one can gain critical insights into the mind of a city. This has to be the year where I used cabs the most. Tight deadlines at work, atrocious weather conditions, moving houses and a few late night jaunts around town conspired to leave me needing cabs at various times this year. The downside was largely financial – I ended up racking up significant costs on renting cabs over the year. On the plus side, I think I gained a window into the mindset of this city.
The experiences were largely good. In general, the cabbies provided a lot of friendly banter on a variety of topics – the shambolic performance of the Scottish National football team, Wayne Rooney’s theatrics in the bid to snatch an enhanced pay package, the delights of summer in the shape of scantily clad women, and pregnant Nigerian women and their inclination to take cabs even over short distances and the like. There was the occasional complaining cabbie who had stories to tell of how the city’s taxi regulators milked him of the genuine profits he made; or more regularly the one who bitched about the weather.
There were the touching stories too – the bloke whose niece was dying of cancer and had been sent home to die in peace, the one whose children had ganged up to wring a couple of hundred pounds worth of Christmas gifts from his grasp and the one who knew someone who had fallen victim to a Nigerian scam artist.
I had the pleasure of meeting a few thinking cabbies too. There was the one whose immersion in Ian McEwan’s ‘Solar’ I was loathe to disrupt, the one who wistfully harked back to memories of night life in Port Harcourt sandwiched between two buxom lasses, and of course, the ex-professional footballer (his claim, I didn’t verify anything).
Inevitably, three questions never failed to come up… “Where are you from originally?”, ” How long have you been in this city?” and “Where do you work?”