Taxi Driver

I’m David.

I drive a taxi in the East End of London.

I’ve been driving for 25 years now; day in, day out, my car weaves around the back streets of Bethnal Green, music at a low hum and a green Magic Tree air freshener swinging as I brake at the lights.

There’s not a street in this area I don’t know, a corner where I’ve not stopped to pick up a drunken reveller or a businessman sheltering from the rain. I drive day and night, all weathers, Christmas day, my birthday; I drive because I’ve got nothing else.

I pick up two girls on Saturday 25th May, it’s 3am and I’m in Stoke Newington. Shit that area has changed. In my day it was all about The Crays, avoiding eye contact and keeping your mouth shut. Now, the streets are teeming with guttersluts; that’s what I call ’em. Young girls in their mid twenties, dressed up like god knows what, going to all night raves ’til their eyes roll back in their skulls and their iPhones dangle at their sides, ripe for the taking.

Like most people I pick up, these girls don’t notice me. Slurring and swearing, unshoe-d,they bark their destination at me- Dalston- probably could have walked for the amount I’m about to charge.

I love watching the drunks in my rearview mirror; sometimes I even get a peek up one of their skirts, dirty old man. The sights I see on a night get me through the cold loneliness of my bed.

Sometimes I don’t feel like having my radio on so I drive in icy silence, listening to their conversations. The big business guys don’t interest me; it’s those little ones- the arguments, love stories, births and deaths that get me going.

People don’t realise, it’s all going on in this taxi. I might just be a driver, but for me it’s all about the journey not the destination. At night, no-one notices when I deliberately slow my cab to miss the green light, they don’t realise I’m hungry for their company. I’m the shadow, the chauffeur, ┬áthe unknown stranger they chance a ride with in the pitch black nothingness.

I drive the girls home, they don’t thank me but I give them the wrong change, pocketing the extra tenner for a packet of fags at the 24 hour off licence outside my bedsit.

I’m David.