Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's been a month.

I've been lazy recently and haven't got around to posting for about a month now. There's a few reasons that I won't bore you with.

I have nothing of real interest to post today as I've only really had the regular Joe 90 in the taxi. There's nothing wrong with that, I like Joe 90 but it's just usually the same conversational tosh.

Most of the converstions these days are centred around the recession and it gets boring very quickly. It is actually a pleasure to talk about the weather now! Ah, the weather, the staple of Irish conversation starters.

Work is so-so, the bills are getting paid but there's actually zero for pocket money or savings. Optimism tells me that once the mortgage gets paid and there's a few bob left to run the lights that is all that matters, so I'm happy with that.

Steam has gathered indeed with a spate of recent taxi protests. I'll leave that to the other blogs as they are covering it comprehensively enough if you're interested. On a personal note, hats off to these guys who organise the protests whilst doing it in a graceful manner and keeping on the good side of Joe public. I am unsure if any change will come of these protests in the end. I think the government and regulator will take their own independent actions and I also believe in the long run they will actually be good for the industry.

Over and out for now, I just wanted to familiarise myself with the keyboard again.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Various places around Dublin

The other side of the fancy TV3 garden

Los Angeles living

The new monster terminal at Dublin Airport

Find this gem of a pub!!!

Open Top Bus

Received the following pictures on a chain email. I don't know who took them so I can't credit the photographer. Talk about having a bad day!

Almost immediately somebody whipped up the following picture slagging Dublin Bus. You gotta love the Irish humour

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tiger makes a brief appearance.

Well Dublin City was a veritable boomtown on Saturday night. The city centre was absolutely packed from end to end. Queues at almost every late night bar and club. It was great to see so many people out there spending money and keeping the wheels of our rusty economy oiled. It was probably down to Friday night being a washout weather wise and also there was a big G.A.A. match on in the city on Saturday attracting about 80,000 people that might not have normally been out and about. I keep my digital camera in the car these days waiting for some interesting photo opportunities to arise, I had taken it out a few times to take pictures of a heaving city centre but was always flagged down by my next customer. I'm only driving a taxi since March 2006 but last night reminded me of how Saturday nights driving a taxi used to be. Very profitable to say the least!

Briefly on another note, my earnings for Jan '09 were the same as Jan '08 so with a 8% pay rise between the two January's that's not as much as a major difference in actual earnings as reported by some. I don't want to sound complacent but if you talk about something for long enough it is going to happen.

Finished up at about 5am and was at Spar on Baggot St. with a few of my taxi driver friends. I have become one of those drivers that I swore I never would, but to be honest I think it's nice to debrief after a nights work and get some free counselling if needs be. Fast forward to inside the Spar shop and my friend and I are drinking our coffee looking at the newspaper headlines. This drunk guy is knocking around the shop generally just annoying people so myself and my mate just head back to his car to have a chat and take ourselves out of the situation. 10 minutes later it appears there's been a scuffle in the shop which also carried over to outside. The taxi driver ends up on the ground and the drunk is legging it down Baggot St. and turns onto Waterloo Road. 3 taxi drivers (including ourselves) and another random 2 guys in a car literally tear off down the road looking to catch this guy. Knowing he couldn't have got far we drive around quite a small area looking for the drunk. We're searching and searching but to no avail. We're heading back to the Spar and suddenly the drunk sticks his head up and is spotted by a few of us at the same time. We all stop and surround the drunk and tell him to get down on the ground. He realises that there are four of us so doesn't put up any protest. Luckily one of the random guys was a doorman for 11 years so knew how to handle the drunk. The cops arrived anyway and recognised the drunk from giving him a warning 2 hours previous to this incident. They took him off to the station. The taxi driver was brought to hospital and the last I heard he had a fractured cheek bone, fractured wrist and had done some damage to his head as well. I hope he is on the mend and back working the streets sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I was presented with a couple of opportunities to improve my karma over the last couple of days so I seized upon both of them as I thought maybe karma levels were low after the incident on Friday night.

I had dropped off a fare to the Clarion hotel along the quays at about 5.30 on Monday morning and was counting my money and sorting out my account dockets as I was about to head home. Next thing I get a knock on the window. It's a truck driver from somewhere in the UK looking for me to give him directions to a banana depot in the fruit markets. I hate giving directions with more than 2 or 3 instructions as I know people will just get lost so I offer to drive down there and for him to follow me. It's not even 2 miles and kind of in the direction of my house in Crumlin. I'm thinking 10 minutes, job done. I'm crossing over Matt Talbot bridge and it obviously hits me that this guy is driving a massive 40 foot artic' truck and he can't just simply take any road I can. D'oh! I know he can drive down the quays but then I get a mental block about whether he can make a turn onto Fr. Matthew's bridge and over onto Church street. I ended taking him way out of the way up Dame St. and back down Bridge St. just to make sure he'd get across the liffey. Of course going across the bridge I see there is acres of room for a truck to turn, time to go home, brain is slowing down to a stop. Truck driver thanked me and wished me safely home. Zzzz. Zzzz.

Got an account job to Maynooth last night, haven't earned much cash this week, the corporate sector seem to be keeping my wheels turning at the moment. On my way back into Dublin at about 11pm, a woman hails me in at a bus stop across from Liffey valley shopping centre. Happy days I think, some cash for a spin back towards town. She opens the door and in fairness to her the first thing she says is that she was actually thumbing a lift and not flagging down a taxi. She further explains that herself and her fella are homeless and they need to get back into town to get to a hostel before 11.30pm. 'Any chance of a lift?' she says. I weighed up my options knowing that there wasn't a chance in hell of me getting a job off my radio in this neck of the woods and the chances of somebody hailing me in along the Chapelizod bypass were as random as this woman asking me for a free lift. I agreed and they were throwing blessings and thanks towards me as if it was going out of fashion, but as our mammies always used to tell us 'Manners cost you nothing'. We're chatting away as we drive towards the city centre and she was telling me that for dropping them into town something good would happen to me. Her fella in the back starts asking me about my Sat Nav and how it works. I explain to him that it's been broken for about 2 weeks (Garin Nuvi - won't connect to a satellite - just out of warranty - annoying!) and I can't show it to him working properly. I hit a few buttons to show him touch screen functionality and next thing the Sat Nav is actually tracking us down the Chapelizod bypass. Were these 2 people my Sat Nav angels? I dropped them off at Bachelor's walk as I was heading over O'Connell bridge and they were heading up to Gardiner St. Good deed done for Tuesday, hopefully the money will start flying in now! No chance, mostly account work all night and about 1hr 15mins later the Sat Nav broke down again! I wonder had my Sat Nav angels finally settled down for some sleep.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Had some ups and downs last week.

Taxi business is slow enough these days but I decided not to worry about it anymore as I can't do anything about it and as my aul fella always use to say 'there's always somebody worse off than yourself'. Generally just sick of hearing about the recession and wish people who have jobs would just count their lucky stars and get out there and get on with it. Enough said.

Had a few funny people in the car last Thursday. Got a fare of 3 people from the Bleeding Horse out to Lucan. I know some drivers don't like long fares but I prefer them to the short hops around the place. The chap beside me spotted my iPod and asked could he have a look, I obliged and next he was choosing our 'drive' playlist. Fast forward 5 minutes and we're cruising down the Chapelizod bypass listening to 'Go West' by the Pet Shop Boys at full volume. Wouldn't be a particular favourite of mine but it was fun none the less. This chap knew and liked his 80's music, previous choice wouldn't be much evidence of this, and was digging up some old classics and some I hadn't heard before. We were approaching the Superquinn in Lucan and the chap in the front decided that his friend in the back was probably better going home instead of having more to drink in his house. Next thing we're driving all the way back towards the Foxhunter end of Lucan via the housing estates/Esker, drop the friend off and then back towards the Superquinn end of Lucan to drop off the chap in the front and his girlfriend. Meter reads c. €42 at this stage! Customer generously gives me €45 and said he was delighted with the use of the iPod. He's about to get out and just then a girl gets in who has left his party because she's just too tired. Happy days, it's only a local run but he gives me back the €5 note and tells me to bring her home. Get to her house and the meter is at €5.25, I wish her a good night and a nice weekend, she gives me a €3 tip on top of his fiver. €53 for a run from town to Lucan, that put me in good spirits. Cue Pet Shop Boys to accompany me back into the city centre. Se a vida é.... that's the way life is.

Friday night was a little different, plodding along slowly all night waiting for the rush hour of drunks. Collected two lads from Tesco Rathmines taxi rank, heading up to Templeogue Road. All going well then just after Terenure village one of the lads in the back of the car starts waving the fare card in front of my face. I give him the dirty looks and tell him to give me the fare card and stop messing. His friend who was on the phone took great offence to this and starts aggressively mouthing off at me, 'what's your problem?' , 'he was doing no harm'. I told him I was being cautious and for all I knew his mate was going to hit me in the face with the fare card. He then starts shouting 'Ah, this country has rared nothing but faggots, you taxi drivers are all moany bastards and all pussies', he then says 'should we just get out here?'. I said 'yeah, I think so' and pull into the side of the road. He says 'and I suppose you think I'm paying you for bringing me halfway home'. 'You bet ya mate, €7.85 please or we'll be doing a u-turn back to Terenure cop shop and we'll take it up with them'. He replies, 'ah fuck the guards, fuck you and fuck everyone'. While all this is going on he was pulling at the passenger seat and making swipes for me with the original instigator of this whole thing holding him back. His mate offers to pay up and get out of the taxi there, I think this is the case so I don't get to see exactly where in his estate he lives. The two lads get out with the aggressive one still looking to let off some steam, shouting and calling at me for a fight. I tell him that I think he should calm down and I get the schoolboy response of 'What are you going to do about it?'. I tell him I have no interest in fighting him and just to get out of my taxi. The two of them walk on up Templeogue road towards their housing estate, the aggressive one looking back towards me every couple of steps with his friend ushering him on. If I hade made any flinch or movement he would have been straight over like Cujo. I did a u-turn and headed back for town suspecting that my aggressive encounter might have been fueled by something other than alcohol. My blood was pumping, adrenaline flying around my body as I'm not an aggressive person, I think I was 12 the last time I had a row! When all is stereotypically said and done about taxi drivers being moany, holding the public to ransom and making a fortune(!!!) I don't think anybody deserves that nonsense when they go out to try and earn money to keep the family going.

Se a vida é.... that's the way life is.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm not racist but...

What is it with Dublin people starting off their conversations with "I'm not racist but..." Anytime I'm a customer in a taxi, I hear it from the taxi driver and anytime I'm driving my taxi I hear it from the customer! It's always followed by a racist statement about the foreign nationals who work in our country.

It pretty much amounts to saying " I'm not telling you but wait 'til I tell you!"

Ireland has always been a somewhat racist country and I put this down to us being an isolated island nation but I have noticed already that the racist sentiment amongst both customers and taxi drivers has increased massively since recession has hit our shores. The following are some observations in recent times:

(1.) I have been second or third on a taxi rank and customers have chosen my taxi over those in front of me. I have been told then by the customer that they wouldn't get into a taxi driven by a black man.

(2.)Some customers who have hailed me on the street have made comments when they get in such as 'Im not racist but I don't like those black lads' or most commonly heard nowadays is 'I'm glad I got one of our own'. I challenged a woman on this comment one day and she replied that she was simply glad I knew where I was going, that's a whole other post/topic altogether though. This post is purely about racism in the taxi industry and not about driver's knowledge of Dublin's streets as there are many other nationalites and indeed Irish drivers who have little knowledge.

(3.) I have been told by a fellow taxi driver who was sitting at a very fast moving taxi rank that it came to a halt when a foreign national taxi driver got to the top of the rank. Customers were instead walking on around the corner and hailing taxis instead.

(4.) I have seen someone actually getting out of a taxi driven by a black man and then get into my taxi instead. I was then subjected to 25 minutes of 'black man this' and 'black man that'. I often feel like stopping the car and telling them to get out but as is mostly the case working nights the customers are loaded up with alcohol and it could go either way if I decided to attack thier morales. I actually don't know if I would be within my rights to do this even.

(5.) I am sick of hearing other taxi drivers using the awful 'N' word when telling stories or describing a situation that involved a black taxi driver. A lot of Irish taxi drivers see foreign national taxi drivers as taking money out of their hands and fail to remember the masses of Irish that emigrated through the 20th Century and that often illegally took jobs in foreign countries. There is a programme here called the back to work scheme whereby foreign and indeed Irish nationals can be given a grant to buy a taxi licence and are allowed to keep their dole for 4 years on a sliding scale. This causes heartbreak for a lot of taxi drivers including myself who receive no assistance in a saturated market but my anger is with the government for offering this scheme, not the person who accepts this very sweet offer, wouldn't you take them them up on their offer? More on that here:


(6.) Another fellow taxi driver who has a taxi with slightly tinted windows stopped on the street for 2 passengers. On the door opening he heard one of the men saying to the other "If he's black I'm not getting in"

In general, even when you hear a friend or a stranger talking or telling a story they would always include the fact that a person in said story was black, eg. there was this black guy walking up the road. If he was white or had brown hair would we feel the need to include this useless detail to the story?

There are various reasons for all this. Some people are just plain pig-headed racist, some believe in harsh economic times that 'charity begins at home' and they want to pass on their euros to an Irish taxi driver, some are pissed off with a lot of the foreign national taxi drivers not knowing where they are going (again I'll cover this one again...maybe) and relying too much on satellite navigation equipment.

I honestly don't know what the solution to all of this is but I do think it needs addressing fast. A few years ago I thought it was a generation type thing and that Ireland's young would not grow up thinking this but I hear it from young people now when I'm out walking and indeed in my taxi.

I hope the future is brighter and I'll try and speak up a bit more in the taxi to do my bit.

I'm not racist but ... can't we all just get along.