The question asked was “what’s so awesome about becoming a taxi driver” and I had to think for a few minutes. I drove taxi for about five years in Houston between 2000 and 2005 and the most awesome thing to me was the diversity of the people that I picked up from day to day.
One thing all of you who read this need to realize is that Houston is not a mass transit town. Basically everyone here owns a at least one or two vehicles and those who use mass transportation or the taxi service here are the out of Towner’s or the locals who depend on the taxi system as their live line to get to and from medical or business appointments in a timely manner.
Over the five year period I ran, I came across a colorful group of people depending upon what area of town and what who I picked up. The cab company I ran for had a wide variety of contracts that we ran from the military to Medicaid, and then there were the business accounts like running railroad crews to given destinations after their time would end for the daily run. We would take the exchange crew to wherever the train would stop after a given shift for the change over and pickup the crews that were getting off. We also had accounts with several maritime company’s where we would pick up the seamen when they were allowed to come ashore and take them to destinations of entertainment or the local malls and it was always a thrill listening to what they had to say about their countries of origin or where they had been.
Then we had our locals, during the daytime I ran mostly Medicaid and Red Cross contracts during the weekdays. These were mainly elderly or mentally handicapped patrons who lived out in sectors of the town which made it least cost effective for the government to pick them up on their regular routes and seeing I worked a general area of town during the week days I ended up picking these people up on a regular basis. The thing that stood out with these was their individual needs. Picking them up on a daily basis you tend to become their friends and a regular lifeline for them and become attached to some.And then there were those I picked up at night, a lot of these were the so called night people, “The night clubbers, and people. It’s amazing how people change after a few drinks. In my case I had a few people that I would pickup that worked the late shift and didn’t like to drive. I had several professional dancers (strippers) that I picked up and television tends to give you the impression that these women are the dregs of society but I would pick up a group that were highly professional and devoted to what they did during the day light hours several were single mothers attempting to better themselves and this was their way of making and income that allowed them to go to school and take care of their families.
But overall driving a cab was somewhat exhilarating. It allowed one to see that diversification that we find in life and really see what makes each of us the individuals that we are. I enjoyed my time behind the wheel and would love to do it again if the system wasn’t as corrupt as it is. I made good money driving but it’s as if every time you made more the cab company wanted that much more on the vehicle lease or the city wanted that much more for the licensing and registrations required for operating. It got to the point where you didn’t make enough for the time spent in the vehicle. Now I live in the country and would like to start my own transportation service to help those out where I live. This would also allow for me to make an income to supplement my Disability check but I don’t think that will happen seeing I don’t have the funds to obtain a vehicle to do so and leasing from the cab companies out here is out of the question seeing the majors won’t come out here for those who truly need it and if they do the fares are outrageous. But I definitely do miss those colorful characters that I pickuped from day to day and sometimes I wonder how they are because a lot of them became like family and close friends dependent upon you just like a child, when you part you wonder how they are doing and then you lose touch over time.