Taxi Tales: London Cabbie Confess All
For most cab drivers, their only responsibility is safely maneuvering their way throughout the city, drop off passengers, and get paid. Occasionally, the cab driver looks in the rearview mirror hoping to get a glimpse of the person he or she decided to give a ride. It is in that moment they realize they are not doctors or lawyers; they are street priests and their cab is the confessional. Along the narrow streets of London, taxis stop to scoop up tourists, women, executives, and young students trying to find their way home. The driver asks ‘where to?’ and zips along the streets of London fast enough to drop off their passenger and slow enough to run up the meter. They often look at the reflections of their customers in the mirror and shake their head in amazement at the oddity of others.
The interesting thing about people is that regardless of how peculiar they may be there is someone shortly after them that were even more peculiar. A woman asking her cab driver to stop at a convenience store in order for her to purchase another pair of stockings to hide an affair from her husband, for a cab driver like Terry, may be a reasonable request. It is the moment when Terry glanced at her in the rearview mirror and saw she had her new stockings scrunched in her hands and putting them, on that may have seemed to be a little much. In the life of a cabbie, the next passenger after a woman like her is probably more fascinating. For example, the account of the anonymous driver who watched as a much older gentleman and two young women began a rendezvous in the back of his cab. John, a London cab driver whose last name is unknown, once noticed something strange on the floor of his backseat. When he pulled over, he realized that the last passenger did not leave a briefcase, bag of money, purse, or phone. Instead, the passenger left a living snake and according to his account, it was the same length of his taxi and he had to drive to the police station and requested that they removed it.
As in any profession, there are the more seasoned drivers. The ones who are in tune with their city and have a laundry list of streets to avoid. For example, London’s popular Clampham High Street turns into fraternity town on the weekends according to cabbie John Kennedy. By his account, the worst season is the summer because it is the time of the year when he is driving around an intoxicated passenger with the windows rolled down and the mixture of alcohol and vomit permeating his cab.
Regardless of the city, country, or continent taxi drivers will often encounter bizarre people and attention grabbing conversations. For them, it is not the odd people that are odd, but the people considered normal and sane by societal standards that may cause their driver to lift their eyebrow and shake their head.