Wednesday, September 02, 2009

last & first ride

She's Oirish, walks with a frame, has big blue eyes and soft warm hands, is 91 years old and begins working on me the moment she gets in the cab. You're lovely fellah, she says with her hand resting upon mine, which is itself resting upon the gearstick. All you fellahs are lovely fellahs ... so kind to a poor auld woman such as meself ... This goes on for a while and then the pitch comes in: Why don't you turn the meter off, darlin', all the drivers do, it's only six dollars to where I'm goin' ... This is of course an outright lie, which she knows and I know and she knows I know. From the Junction down to Bondi Beach, especially at that time of day, when the schools are coming out, is ten at the least and more likely fifteen. I make my case and leave the meter running; she blithely changes the subject and begins instead to tell me about her life in Dublin, where she lived until she was 75, and her family in Australia and anything else that comes to mind. I do not expect to find myself and herself singin' In Dublin's fair city / where the girls are so pretty ... but that is in fact what happens. Soon enough we pull up outside the chemist just up from the old Astra Hotel, now apartments, where she lives and there's 14.75 on the meter. She takes out a miniscule purse and has a momentary (staged) panic that her money has all gone ... but really what she has is a ten and a five dollar note nestled among the receipts and scrips. Can you not give a discount to a poor auld woman? she wheedles and I can't help myself, I say ten. Orrghh, make it eight, won't you darlin'? she says and I do, I do! Give her two bucks. Scarcely believing my own foolishness. I get her frame out of the back seat, get her out of the front, prop her up on it and she tacks chortling away. I carry on, thinking that, though I'm marginally out of pocket, this way both of us feel good whereas the other way ... would be bad both ways. And maybe I'll have a lucky day ... I do. Eight hours and about $400.00 later I'm powering up Oxford Street on my way back to Rose Bay determined, this time, as I have three times previous, not to stop for that one last fare when two girls, waving frantically, come skittering onto the road from behind the back end of a bus and as I brake one of them spills her mobile phone, an i-phone or a palm pilot by the look of it, almost under the left front wheel of the cab, forcing me to brake harder. They get in. Going to Milsons Point. A blonde and a brunette, both young (20s), both shickered: the heady smell of spiritous fumes in the cab is so strong it makes me feel a little high. Brunette, who dropped the phone, gives it back to Blonde, assuring her it is unbroken. Then she asks me: Do you smoke? I say no and she swears, loud and long and startlingly explicit. A bit later she leans over from the back seat to show me something. I don't really see what it is but gather from what she says that it's a vibrator or perhaps the case of a vibrator. They both have one but it isn't clear exactly where they have them ... there's a bit of chat about battery strength and a few lewd double entendres; they're meeting a couple of lads at Milsons Point railway station and then, who knows. Lots of raucous laughter. You're a really cool taxi driver, says Brunette. And you're Australian. I tell her where I'm actually from and she tells me that her Dad was from Wellington and that the family lived for a while in Takaka. So it goes and soon we're over the bridge and heading down the hill towards Luna Park. I pull up near the railway station and Blonde starts to pay with her credit card ... twenty something dollars. While we're doing the business Brunette starts having a truly horrendous coughing fit, sounding like a 60 year old emphysemic not a babe of 22. When she recovers I say: That's a bad smoker's cough and she comes straight back with: That's not a smoker's cough, that's a frustrated person with a dildo up her arse. I look at her in true astonishment and she smiles back, louche, sultry and also very aware of how sexy she looks. I look over once more after I've done a U turn and am about to head off back up the hill. They are leaning in confab together against a low wall, heads bent, laughing like drains ...