Of the many things taxi is, beyond all and everything is its obsessive nature, consuming your time and energy, ensuring your primary activities are confined to eating, sleeping and driving cab---taxi an active parasite, a tapeworm striving off vulnerable flesh and blood. But surely Joe, many might say, you exaggerate, no occupation could be that demanding because, as so many people have commented to me, "all you are doing is driving a car. What is hard about that?" And besides, the argument proceeding further, what can one expect when operating amongst the menial and lower caste, you the taxi dalit begging for your bread and butter, as too often our profession equated with the likes of dish washing and cleaning toilets or gravediggers in a pauper's cemetery, interring the nameless, forgotten and tubercular dead. Frankly, we cabbies are the table scrapes leftover from dinner fed to the family pet or discarded into the compost bin.
But yes, what is difficult about maneuvering forward in some of the nation's most congested streets while figuring out "just where the money is?" because, unlike usual and normal occupations, there is absolutely no guarantee you are making a dime, or what what some like to express as, "a single red cent," whatever the hell that means? What is hard about finding yourself completely alone beneath the top-light, your day a blank slate, totally left to your ability or not to make your taxi day, with no one caring other than the taxi association screaming for the lease or your wife shouting "why haven't the bills been paid?" If you think this isn't stressful, that this isn't much fun, then you too, like the cabbie, are completely out-of-your-mind, unsympathetic to your fellows, self-appointed royalty ignoring the unwashed rabble clutching at your heels.
As I keep saying, and will continue to say about taxi, is that your only true guarantee is a kick in the buttock and a sore back and cranky knees and swollen ankles followed by indigestion and insomnia, with the certified assurance that your chronic fatigue and overall exhausted state of mind, body and soul will forever remain your best friend and worst enemy, that "feeling like crap 100 percent of the time" is normal, and why after a few years you won't even notice you are a dead man (or woman) walking, or should I say it, driving? Isn't life grand, finding yourself transformed into a walking and talking zombie? George Romero would be proud!
And what has this done to me personally, besides this dismal list of maladies? Taxi has stolen my life, reducing it to a seven-day cycle of working three to four days and briefly recovering during the remaining three, only to begin the drudgery all over again. When trying to make up for lost sleep, sleeping twelve hours, when do I then have time to write and read and exercise and just plainly think while keeping up with the usual obligations paying bills, grocery shopping and brushing my teeth?
Precisely I don't which is why I leave taxi for weeks at a time so I can simply breath and remember I am alive, that an entire world outside of taxi exists, one of joy, fun, and can I say, personal satisfaction. This remaining week I will be working minus interruptions to finally finish the editing of my most recent book, it being last April since I last peeked at it, working on a few pages.
Anyone thinking driving taxi is more important than my writing is delusional. Taxi for me is a "day job" that's gone on way too long. The American composer Philip Glass drove taxi in New York City for a few years but finally got out, going on to complete something far more important---adding to classical music's legacy and cannon, receiving a deserved recognition for hard work done.
Now that is something important but taxi, despite its usefulness in sometimes providing very necessary transportation to medical appointments and hospitals, is not equally paramount. But the writing of just one poem or essay or short story that will outlive me, something people will both read and enjoy centuries from now, is far more important than all the thousands of cab rides I have provided.
There is no escaping that reality. While making money driving cab it's clear I am wasting my remaining unknown precious years upon this planet in this form, in the personage of who and what I am. In twenty to thirty years I will be dead, obviously then having no ability to do anything special, like completing my childhood autobiography or bicycle along the River Doubs with someone I love.
No, taxi is unimportant. Eating good food is important. Walking along the River Seine in the rain is. Even bickering over absolutely nothing is better than taxi.
And concerning that, there is, nor can there be, any argument.
Your latest posting brought back to mind a very proverbial bumper sticker from years past , which ironically enough , was plastered
on the rear bumper of a cab and
read ' I used to have a life but
my job ate it !! '. How true
is that acknowledgement ??
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