Why Driving A Taxi Is A Mental Heath Issue
Everybody knows cabbies are crazy. Just visit Manhattan and manifested before your eyes will be thousands of Travis Bickles, Robert De Niro's famously deranged character in the 1976 film, "Taxi Driver." But what is never discussed is why even I can become, even just for a minute, another Travis Bickle, a human being suddenly out-of-their-mind, recklessly accelerating their cab down the crowded roadway?
Inherently connected to cab driving is an unending, incessant battering of body and psyche guaranteed to debilitate anyone. From my personal experience I don't see how anyone alive could remain immune from the combined insult that is taxi, Darwinian evolution not adjusting fast enough to the untenable, when within a mere few minutes with the wrong passenger, all personal tranquility is utterly and instantly destroyed, breaking you down and transforming you into something you never, ever wanted to be: a thoroughly discouraged and miserable human being, with your worse instincts taking over, especially immaturity, miring you in a sticky morass not completely of your own making.
Again, what I have found is that this state of mind, or state of mental health, is unavoidable when driving a cab, the implications serious and personal. Of course every occupation, even the highest and most prestigious, contain drawbacks and inherent negatives. The real danger and problem connected to the "crazed cabbie" syndrome is its potential permanency, similar to various types of schizophrenia, this very real psychosis incorporating into an individual's real and extant personality; and once entrenched, making it extremely difficult to remove. How many cabbies are inclined to seek therapy, parking themselves upon the psychiatric couch or join the embracing circle of group therapy? Not many is the quick answer.
As said, it is nearly impossible for me or any other cabbie to resist the unavoidable, the unrelenting physical and mental beating we all experience daily. Imagine the interminable pounding of the sea upon the shoreline and you have a good idea of our average day. My sole motivation for writing this examination is concern over my own behavior, worried that carryover is affecting what I am doing overall, which for me means my writing, my current book and what I am doing to ultimately be successful and live solely from my writing.
As mentioned multiple times, my previous professional background as counselor, case-manager and therapist puts me in a special position to comprehend what is happening around me. And seeing I am unable to insulate myself from taxi's damaging impact, it scares the hell out of me, strongly suggesting that what I am doing might be suicidal, ultimately killing myself by a thousand cuts. I have always viewed taxi as the means to a positive conclusion, not a dead-end leading to confusion and failure.
And given that, there has always been an assigned logic for my travelling to Mexico and other points across the globe as often as I do, travel acting as a necessary antidote to the poison that is taxi. Without travel I could not keep driving cab. It is as simple as that but as is usually acknowledged, poison habitually ingested leads to inevitable death regardless of steps taken.
Friday I will be back in the cab for a least a half a shift, fully knowing it is a less than healthy choice. As is well-known with the therapeutic process, awareness of a personal issue or problem is just the beginning of the path forward toward resolution and well-being. Can I and all my fellow cabbies do the work necessary to alter the unchangeable?
My honest response is I don't know, feeling the odds are against us, the raging taxi sea the ultimate victor, old Neptune throwing his net and dragging us down to deepest fathoms of despair, our broken selves then tossed back upon the rocks, destined for the fishes or unmarked graves, collectively more than forgotten, our suffering never noticed nor seen, acknowledgment never to be our final benediction.