A taxi ride can go one of two ways…

 

A taxi driver called Bill
It doesn’t matter which city, in which country you’re in, getting into a cab is always going to go one of two ways. The first is the Alan Jones/John Laws brigade, full of attitude or opinion you don’t
share. The other is often a rich life story.
Hobart is exactly the same.
Lovely Deputy and I are doing our own sociological experiment on our Friday night taxi rides home. It’s all about engagement: what life is like for our taxi driver.
Fortunately, daytime radio has long since packed up and gone home. Although we’ve still had our fair share of attitude, crankiness, and the odd racist slur.
Mostly we’ve met some interesting people.
I introduced Lovely Deputy to Flynn once, a New Zealander and resident of 20 years. Flynn, and I agree on a number of things, one of them is that Paul Keating was a visionary, another is that he looks hot in an Italian double-breasted suit.

 

One early morning, like around 1 am, we spent 15 minutes consoling one driver whose wife was severely depressed. He turned the meter off.
We got in one night and jovially asked our driver where he was from. The conflict was already shocking by this stage, he replied, ‘Syria’.
Was there family still at home?
‘I haven’t heard from them in three years.’
Then on Friday night we got in the taxi and met Bill. We closed the doors, and paused mid-conversation to be met by meditative music and take in the cab’s ambience.
We had an unexpected Zen trip home with a very Mindful-Bill.

 

Lovely led the engagement strategy this evening…because he’s really a hippy. Bill told him that only once had he managed to listen to his meditation for the entire shift, but mostly he did it
for an hour or so. He’s a man who is contemplative and wistfully told us that for a period in his life he had a meditation practice, but not now.
How does the meditation music usually go down in the cab?
There are the people he hopes it might help settle down. Drunken conflict is all too often part of a cabby’s nighttime shift. Apparently they’re the people that ask him to put something else on. He usually elects for something middle of the road, hoping they’ll play an old love song that will soothe the beast(s) in the backseat.
How does he approach the job of taxi driving?He is fully cognisant of his role: to responsibly deliver a customer from point A to point B. Sometimes it’s challenging. His answer, ‘One step at a time with my bowl of milk.’

His parable is about a sage who was tasked (for some perverse reason I now forget) to walk in front of a firing squad without spilling a drop of milk from the bowl. The ones who
went before him either died during the task or for failing it. This sage didn’t. When asked how he survived, he answered, ‘I just took one step at a time.’
He may not have a formal practice, but he’s living his mindfulness every day.

I asked if his American accent was from the West Coast. Bill has a gentle sense of humour. He said, ‘No, people on the East Coast meditate too.’
What brought him to Australia?
His kids.
At this point he’s more circumspect. He’d like to see them more than their occasional cup of coffee, but he’s philosophical and pragmatic. They’re men now and they have happy, busy, wonderful lives. That’s something he can be proud of, even if he feels it as a loss sometimes.
He sounds like an excellent dad, and he was a lovely driver.
So every taxi driver has a story and this one was an inspiration. 

What’s your taxi driver story?

If you liked this post, you might like one about what matters to kids, you can find it here.

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