Monday, April 21, 2014

Things We Learn from Taxi Drivers

I should start with a bit of a disclaimer. Taxi drivers clearly have a very challenging job. They work lonely shifts in anti-social hours, and often see human nature at its worst. I should also say that I have met some great cabbies - helpful, interesting people working hard to look after their families.


I am regularly struck by the proportion of taxi drivers I encounter who hold bizarre and parochial opinions. Of course there are the classic unwanted racist observations, you know, along the lines of 'This used to be a nice area didn't it mate? Until THEY moved in.' I guess driving around all day listening to the imbeciles on talkback radio would do that to you after a while, but I seem to have hit a rich vein recently of star graduates from The Cabbie Institute of Bollocks Opinions. Disaster often looms when they ask me what I do and I'm unwise enough to tell the truth about being a history teacher. Suddenly I'm being told that the Persian Empire actually won the Persian Wars, or that the allies couldn't have defeated the Nazis without the help of Brazil.

Recently however I had an outstanding driver who really raised the bar. Here's what the Duchess and I learned during a short trip:

1. Noah's Ark was grounded in Macedonia, making Macedonia the cradle of civilisation.

'\ 2. Macedonians colonised Europe after The Flood, including Scotland. This is the reason so many Scottish names start with 'Mac'.

3. One of the reasons our driver knew all this was because of the fact that he could speak 11 different languages. When asked, he gave his proficiency in Scottish as an example. After I politely enquired whether he meant Gaelic, given that Scottish isn't actually a language, he demonstrated his linguistic prowess by starting to speak in a theatrically offensive and inaccurate Scottish accent. Cockney was also one of his alleged 11 languages, and we heard a fair bit of an approximation of that as well.

4. Our driver had not worn underwear since 1989.

Shortly after this revelation, we arrived home, happy indeed that our trip wasn't any longer.


  1. Now I know why the Schiltron always reminded me of a Phalanx!

    I'm a little concerned how the topic in number four was raised - perhaps it was a long drive. Since 2014 is his 25th anniversary of "going commando" did he reveal has he was celebrating the milestone, perhaps by learning a 12th language?

    1. Actually from memory it came up when he was explaining his cultural affinity with the Scots, on the basis that they don't wear anything under the kilt. And alarmingly, all this came out in a ride of about 7 minutes.

  2. My last taxi driver insisted on singing a medly of hits from the musicals.

  3. Fantastic! Its a wonder that he didn't have a culturally insensitive and offensive head-dress like the Indian tracker off Night Vale!

  4. A great read, and very amusing good job the ride was a short one

  5. That guy has nothing on London cabbies (and I'm told that London cabbies have nothing on New York cabbies)!

    #4 is not something you really want to know. Mind you, it's hardly worse than a local councillor a few years ago who revealed that as part of her commitment to saving the environment she cut down on laundry detergent use by wearing the same knickers for a month at a time. *shudder*

  6. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull fame wore the same socks for 7 years or so. maybe he should have spoken to your Cabbie dux and then gone without. Wonder what other insightful comments may have come up on a longer trip???

  7. Discovery Channel et al gas a lot to answer for ;)

  8. Possibly one of the reasons why Scottish membership of the European Union is a good/bad* idea...
    *delete as applicable

  9. I really enjoy meeting people like this chap. I always feel so much more intelligent afterwards for some reason.

  10. Ha! Somedays my grand scheme of retiring into the vast forests of Northern Michigan seems to be an inspired idea! The trees do not offer much of opinion;however, I may become that crazy ole coot that talks to trees and plays with toy soldiers! ;)

  11. Why do some people feel the need to share so much. In the cabbies case perhaps boredom and all his storys are just to shock you and are porky pies.

  12. Hilarious! Reminds me of a quote from someone who's name eludes me: "It's a shame all the people who know how to run the world are already busy driving taxis and cutting hair".

  13. "approximate Cockney"? That'll be Mockney then. A known language, innit?

    Wonderful post.

  14. I got him to drop me off a couple of houses away! :)


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