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  ...presents...       So You Want to be a Cab Driver?
                                                         by Ken Wanio
                                                         06/06/1999-#367

             __///////\ -cDc- CULT OF THE DEAD COW -cDc- /\\\\\\\__
               \\\\\\\/  Everything You Need Since 1986  \///////
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 |___heal_the_sick___raise_the_dead___cleanse_the_lepers___cast_out_demons___|


    Well, cab drivers are scum bags. Now I know you're a scum bag. Worse.
You're a whore. A pimp and a whore under one roof. And you're a fucking
little sociopath. These credentials are impressive, but won't necessarily
make you a good cabby. You do look the part, if you weren't so goddamn
cute. A few more years of drink and drugs will take care of that.

    Anyway.

    Cab drivers are scum bags. They lust only for whores and gambling. They
like to fight. They like to kick jerks out of their cab. They are jerks.
They're not nice to women and children, even if they are women and
children. Arty types don't make the grade. They're sheep in cab driver
clothing. A real cab driver is a full time son of a bitch. He may or may
not know how to speak English, but you can bet he's a talking asshole in
any language. The son of a bitches will never grow up. They don't want real
jobs. They're eternal boys, which is to say your average American fellah,
except they do it for a living.

    Have a beer.

    Cabbies take the worse shit a man can take and get paid for it.
Mercenary killers are higher on the ladder. So are whores when it comes to
selling your ass. A cabby is a legal criminal. Something like a lawyer,
same branch of pedestrianism. Know what they call a cabby without a
hangover? A nonsequitur. No such animal. You'd fit in there pretty well.
Drugs too. You gotta take lots of drugs to be a cabby. But know how to
handle them. Combine them like an alchemist. The best cabbies can shoot a
goofball in their neck going sixty in heavy traffic and the passengers
won't even notice. You'd do alright there too.

    Where was I?

    Oh, yeah. The most important part - and I don't know if you fill the
bill here. We'll see - a cabby's gotta know how to push a hack. If you
can't pass a hack through the eye of a needle, you ain't no cabby. The
cab's gotta be an integral part of you. It has to fit like a glove, hang
like a genital, bounce like a tit, shit like an eagle, fly like a demon,
burrow through the city like a rat in a garbage heap and come out shining.
You gotta be able to sneak up on a fare like a pickpocket. You gotta
squeeze through double parked cars like toothpaste. There can't be more
than the distance between the hem of a whore's skirt and her snatch between
you and sleepwalking pedestrians. You gotta have nerves of steel and the
patience of a toad. Otherwise you'll crack up. You'll get fired or end up
in a fireball on the freeway. Cab driving is magic and you gotta master the
automatic pilot. If you're the type of pedestrian who bumps into other
people on the street, probably you won't make a cabby.

    Got it?

    Now's for the passenger. You gotta put meat in the back seat. That
meter's gotta be running or you ain't going to make it. You're going to
sweat blood to find the bastards and eat shit when you do. They'll put you
through the ringer. "Driver, where you taking us? This isn't the right way.
I'm taking your number. The police will hear about this!" They'll get out
after chewing your ear off and stiff you. The ones you've given the best
service to. The insult cuts like a knife and the stiff knows it. It's hard
out there these days. People are frustrated, powerless like they were in
Hitler's Germany. They make their little power plays wherever they can. You
got to shrug your shoulders. Keep your armor shining. Keep the meter
running. You'll be a true blue misanthrope in no time. Just take a few
hundred of the bastards around on Saturday night and you'll see what I
mean. They get in smelling of toothpaste, deodorant, perfume, mouthwash.
You'll pick them up a few hours later reeking of garlic, alcohol, digesting
food. A rich nauseating stink of momentary happiness. They'll scream in
your ear and tell bad jokes. The assholes will test your patience. They'll
spill drinks, vomit, ejaculate and fight like cats and dogs. You'll get
real familiar with the hose and the rag. You pick them up overflowing with
gaiety at the beginning of the evening and drop them off at the end angry,
depressed, gibbering drunk. You'll hear the same selfish, petty,
narrow-minded, ignorant, misinformed, vicious conversation repeated over
and over. Every one of the bastards thinking their situation is unique.
Planning kids, marriages, and careers before they know how to tie their
shoes. It's the same everywhere. The big muddled blueprint of the herd.

    Now you'll have some fine human experiences, the kind that flood you
from head to toe with a warm sense of beatitude. You'll pick up the father
who's just watched his wife give birth. You'll pick up the widow who's just
watched her husband die. You'll pick up the ones that have been stabbed and
shot and raped and take them to the hospital. You'll take them home later
bandaged from head to toe. You'll pick up the guy on his way to the bridge
to jump. You'll pick up the young lovers and you'll wipe off the back seat
when they get out. You'll pick up a thousand sob stories and broken hearts.
You'll pick them up by the tens of thousands and they'll all give you the
same corny lines. The hopeless banality of it all will sicken you like the
smell of rotten meat. But the cab driver has to put up with it. He gets the
big picture. He gets the whole stinking overview. It's okay for the
passenger who experiences reality from one point of view. But a cabby sees
it like the Buddha.

He's got to cultivate the sewer.

    Another beer? Sure, sure. Go ahead. Have a line. That's what it's there
for. Don't interrupt. I keep losing my train of thought.

Everybody's desperate. Everybody's got guns. They'll shoot you in the back
and ask questions later. You gotta have your radar on. A map of the city's
gotta light up in your brain. You gotta see not only where the fare is when
I call it, but the fare that ain't called. You'll see a fuzzy area where
the danger is. It'll come as a stink or a bad taste in your mouth. You
gotta size up a killer from several blocks away before you can see his
eyes. Gotta see how he's standing. How he's dressed. How he signals you. If
he's hiding something, it'll show. A sick light will burn a hole through
the map. You'll pass him at sixty. Only then will you see the ozone in his
eyes. The blank hole which is the enemy. Hermes won't fail you here. Take
my word for it. That's why I don't put no fucking cage between you and the
back seat. If you're stupid enough to pick up a cemetery run, you shouldn't
be driving in the first place.

    There's something else. You gotta be a good Christian. You gotta be
nice. A real sweetheart. You gotta be kind as a bloodthirsty bat at a
prayer meeting. Clever as a praying mantis in some rich matron's crab
salad. Somebody different for every asshole that gets in your cab. Oldest
trick in the world. All holymen are hip to it. You gotta be what they want
you to be. Then you'll succeed. I mean you gotta be nasty when it's
necessary. But not lowbrow nasty. You gotta score. And you don't score with
cheap shots.

    Another thing you should keep in mind: Cab driving is contagious. Once
you're addicted, it'll eat you inside out and spit out the pit. You won't
ever want to go back to a regular job, that is - if you're a true hack. Of
course I know you're a whore. You already know the business from one angle.
It's like religion. Eat at some holy trough while the head monk sticks it
to you.

    Anyway, as I was saying, the virus is lethal. You'll find you can't
function without the cab. You'll hate it. Take a day or two off and you'll
be longing for your ride. It's like drugs that way. Cab driving will eat
your soul and there won't be anything else for you.

    Guess that about covers the details. Only thing you have to do now is
get out there and get to work. And I told you not to ask questions. Just
follow orders and don't worry. I'll tell you what you need to know over
Radio Two. Just keep your ears open. I'll be talking to you.

    Now hit the road.


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