Twenty Rides & a Love Note
The Curator of Cambodian Art at the Denver Museum, name of Bunker, she looked like a cross between E Annie Proulx and Madelaine Albright and walked with a limp. Art Gallery of NSW to Sydney University.
A Japanese psychologist who specialised in coaching trauma victims giving evidence at criminal trials. A small, extremely alert, birdlike woman who said that Recovered Memory Syndrome does not exist in Japan. University of NSW to the City.
A Czech-born, German speaking, Swiss orthodontist here for a conference. We talked about that variety of homesickness which does not know where home is. City to Darling Harbour.
Two drunken Russian mafioso who'd been at the opening of a boutique in Double Bay and spent the ride to the City discussing recalcitrant employees and amenable strippers.
A Saudi man with three beautiful daughters and one son, whose wife rode on ahead with the boy in another cab, here with his family on holiday: a man of grave courtesy, impeccable manners and the air of a slightly weary prince from another age than ours. City to Glebe.
A mother and daughter, seemingly identical apart from the difference in their ages, 'of Middle Eastern appearance'. I could not tell if they were Arabs or Jews and didn't dare ask. City to Brighton le Sands.
Two Prison Architects from Melbourne who were extremely stressed by the manifold demands of their work. City to the Airport.
A chaotic, Botswana-born IT guy, a White African; we discussed, among other things, marijuana cultivation; he loved Australia but missed his adrenaline fuelled youth, when each day was an improvisation and the stakes life and/or death. He left his keys in the car, but it was a radio job so I remembered the street number and posted them back to him, resisting the temptation to address the envelope: Botswana Bwana. Newtown to Rose Bay.
A large, long-haired man of indeterminate occupation who'd worked for 25 years, on and off, in Chile. Very well informed about both banking and politics but veiled, veiled ... Darlinghurst to Brighton le Sands.
Two half cut Crim/Businessman picked up outside a car yard on Parramatta Road. They were going to a pub in Balmain but, when they realised ‘Jean’ would not be there, changed their minds and went to the Airport instead, along the way hatching nefarious schemes to eliminate rivals and defraud governments.
A Spanish girl with a broken elbow and wrist, sustained when she hit a speed bump while simultaneously riding her pushbike, texting a friend on her mobile phone and attempting to apply balm to her lips. She was delirious with morphine but her friend got her home. RPA Hospital in Camperdown to Marrickville.
Two young smarties on their way to a Christina Aguilera album launch. One of them said he had that very day discussed farting on set with Toni Collette; they other was involved in the buying and selling of pearls from Broome. Glebe to Kings Cross.
Two aging, serious music fans who'd been to hear the Arctic Monkeys at the Enmore and meticulously deconstructed the gig on the cab ride home. St Peters to Kogarah.
Two drunken young men who'd just cleaned up big in an illegal poker game. Though they were het boys, they spoke to each other like lovers as they planned further clean-outs. St Peters to Paddington via Surry Hills.
A garrulous Irish IT guy who spent the first part of the ride abusing the government and the second, after I'd been stopped by the police for speeding, abusing cops. As they wrote out the tickets (there were two, I hadn't filled out my worksheet properly) I found myself explaining the derivation of the word 'fiction'. City to Potts Point.
A woman and a man who'd been dining out together and were now going back to his place for a tryst. She called her husband and children as we drove along, setting him straight on details needed for the Census form and reassuring her kids that she loved them and would see them in the morning. Crows Nest to Bellevue Hill.
A Dancer with a little-girl voice, wrinkled hands, grey thighs, and pink feathers at ankle and wrist. She inadvertently left a perfumed feather behind on the front seat. Surry Hills to Kings Cross.
An obsessed Film Director (is there any other kind?) who meticulously summarised her day's emails for the benefit of her monosyllabic boyfriend, grunting in the back seat; it was about the financial shenanigans of her Producers and the deals they were or were not making with some crooked German financiers. They were looking for a writer but I managed to keep my mouth shut. Darlinghurst to The Rocks.
A couple of stock brokers who never said where they were going: I had to work it out from their conversation with each other; one, an American, rhapsodised about the $330.00 worth of fatty tuna he ate in a sushi bar in Hong Kong; he was making a special detour on his next overseas trip so he could gorge himself there again. City to Bondi.
The Head Caterer at the NSW Houses of Parliament, a big, beautiful Fijian man called Joseph. We spoke about Fiji and he knew every place I’d been there, some of which are very out-of-the-way. Invited me to come and dine at Parliament with him one day, and bring my sons. Macquarie Street to Kogarah.
On Wednesday when I took over from the day driver, an Ecuadorian called Italo, he showed me a love-note a fare had given him and said: This taxi has holes in the floor, but Queens ride in it ...