Life of a Maclean cabbie

MACLEAN Taxi Services is in a bit of trouble, with only two male drivers and one female driver sharing a huge workload of a Sunday double shift, six night shifts and six day shifts per week.

Try as he might, the head driver Brett Jones can't seem to find any more drivers. I do occasional relief shifts when I can, because I worked the Sunday double shift and Monday nights for most of last year, and I must say I really enjoyed the job. Unfortunately other priorities came up for me this year, and I can't work as regularly as I would like to.

The life of a country taxi driver has its ups and downs, but I found it a very interesting and varied job. You get to meet a lot of people and you also get to listen to a lot of people's problems. You're not only driving them around; you're also a psychiatrist, family counsellor, financial adviser and oral story collector. Some of the stories are vibrant too, all grist for the mill for a writer like me.

It's like a bird's eye view of what's really happening in a small country town. You get to know who the scammers, the drug dealers and the crims are. You also get to know the really nice people, the salt of the earth types. You put a lot of walking frames in and out of the boot; you help fragile old people in and out of the passenger seat. In fact you start thinking you are doing something useful after a while.

The rates of pay are not crash hot but if you're on a pension like me it is not affected too badly. And it's almost indescribable the feeling you get when you're driving through the deserted streets of Maclean late on a Sunday night with the dashboard lit up like an aeroplane and nothing particular on your mind, and a great song playing on the radio.

Sure, taxi driving has its down side, but like theatre, it gets in your blood.

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