The truth may set you free, but when your passengers are on drugs, sob stories get the fare paid
I was working a big hotel in the Eastern Suburbs a few Saturdays ago when three young men and a girl, all skippies in their twenties, approached the cab and asked if I wanted to go up to the Northern Beaches.
Although the fellas were firing on all cylinders, I quickly noted the absence of alcohol odor. That meant only one thing: drugs. I wondered if they had enough for the $70 fare, or if they would run. With half the night’s earnings at stake, one can’t be careless, and I braced myself for the psychological warfare to come. It began quickly when I noticed the lead male muttering something to the girl in the back before calling out, ‘Hey cabbie! Do you ever get women offering you favors for the fare?’ In other words, they were debating whether or not to pay.
‘Nah, never’, I lied, thinking he must be pretty gone.
Then the alpha male got on the phone, ‘Steve-o! Whaddya doin’? I’ve got a gram for ya! Meet us in half an hour’. Then he turned his attention my way: ‘Hey cabbie’, he called. ‘Feel like joining us for a few lines?’
‘Nah, not for me thanks mate,’ I laughed, waving away the offer as we whizzed across the Harbour Bridge, but he wasn’t convinced.
‘Ah, he says “no” but you can see he’s itching for a line. Come on mate, spark up!’
‘Mate’, I called over the thumping music, ‘I’m already sparking on caffeine and nicotine!’
‘Yeah’, he shot back, ‘but wait ‘til ya see this – it’s the best coke in Sydney! Put a real edge on your night’. I just laughed and watched my speed as we shot past a tunnel camera.
‘Even if I wanted to,’ I said, pointing at the discreet interior camera, no bigger than a cigarette pack.
My passengers were chastened for all of five seconds, concluding that if not for the camera, I’d be interested. ‘No worries mate’, they assured me, ‘we’ll talk about it later’. My move had backfired – if I didn’t quickly recover the initiative, I’d lose.
‘Listen’, I told them, killing the music, ‘I’ve been there and done all that. I was once like you guys, partying every weekend. Until my girlfriend got cancer and died. That’s when I said enough…’ It was a total line, but they fell for it.
‘Mate, that’s terrible. We’re sorry for pushing you…’.
Having gained the advantage I moved to consolidate: ‘Nah, that’s okay. But let me tell you, cocaine is just as addictive as heroin. Except you don’t know it until you’re using it everyday…’.
‘Yeah, that’s just like Snowy..’, said one of the boys, quietly.
I continued, seeing I’d hit a nerve: ‘…Next thing you know, you’re 40 years old, looking like 50, with no money and driving cabs…if you’re lucky!’.
We pulled up outside a house in Dee Why with the meter showing $62. From the subdued mood in the cab, I was confident my tale had worked. ‘Anyway, you guys are still young, but don’t waste it. That’ll be $62 plus seven more for the tolls’. They all chipped in and handed me $70 – the full fare, plus a dollar tip.
They made one last attempt to entice me: ‘You sure you won’t come in?’
‘No thanks mate’, I answered, ‘you guys party on, but do it safely, OK?’
‘Yeah, it’s under control mate, it’s all good. Nice meeting you’. Breathing a sigh of relief I drove away wondering if they’d intended to run. One can never be certain in this game.
Read more of Adrian the Cabby at www.cablog.com.au.