Anyone who works in the service industry will tell you that their job is the absolute worst, and they generally deserve that title. Except for when it comes to taxi drivers; they win every time, hands down.
First and foremost, they have to deal in close proximity with drunk people. At least bartenders can walk away and bouncers can kick someone out; taxi drivers have to sit beside the inebriated mess and try not to inhale the fumes while they decipher slurred directions. Let’s not even mention the regurgitated alcohol that doesn’t make it out the window.
God pray for the brave soldiers who work on busy nights and are flagged down by a million randomers on the street. I’ve seen cars be mobbed and girls flail atop windscreens like something out of a zombie apocalypse. You spill your guts to these people and most of them humour you. They allow you to finish your bottle of wine and play your music on the way to town and even endure your high-pitched rendition of Adele. That’s dedication to the profession.
They also have to endure the daily struggle of Irish awkwardness. A lot of journeys will involve excruciating silences peppered with coughs and the clicks of a mobile phone. Worse still is the half-arsed attempts at society’s greatest affliction: small talk. Busy tonight? You working all weekend? Shocking weather, isn’t it? Lucky you’re inside a car all day, hahaha. Poor souls.
That said however, I have noticed that the taxi men here in Cork are more than willing to transcend these painful barriers and have a proper chat. In the past few months, my conversations with these gentlemen have involved personal tragedies, near death experiences, and one drugs bust. One particularly loquacious man switched off the meter and continued to talk for the next ten minutes outside my apartment. I, in turn, have asked them if they liked dogs and if they think I should use vodka to disinfect my bleeding foot. I feel my end of the discussion needs some work.
On a final note: should you tip? It’s an awkward grey area. Sure, if the fare is €9.50, then you give them a tenner. But otherwise, is it weird to try and calculate ten per cent of the journey? It might be unnecessary but I’d rather err on the side of caution. After all, they know where you live.