Often I am asked just how do I do it, how do I stay alert and awake hour after hour behind the taxi wheel? Is it multiple cups of coffee or prescription amphetetamines saving the day and night, stimulating me past insomnia to another indefinable state? Or is it my favorite response to such questions, that cabbies are a new species: Darwinian genetic theory gone amok, allowing us to do what no one else can or even attempt, defying reality as if normalcy has anything to do with taxi driving. Though many swear we are indeed monsters, something released from the yellow swamp, the real answer is none of the above, the answer is as plain as a cabbie’s nose.
Similar to the average marathoner it is all about training and building up endurance. Like any sporting activity it is all about practice, practice, practice. Determination is one large part of it. Monetary incentive is also another major dimension internally spurring the driver on. Making the big money hour after hour serves as immediate adrenalin, all those dollars flowing straight into your pocket keeping you focused and wide awake. Cab driving is only about making money and nothing else. Of course if the financial spigot is turned off or at a trickle it is time for a snooze.
When it’s busy the trick then is really a kind of self-hypnosis, repeatedly saying to yourself over and over: “I will stay awake, I will stay awake.” Personally I have found twenty to twenty four consecutive hours not to be particularly difficult. It only becomes problematic when trying to replicate the feat over a prolonged span of days or weeks. I have seen it done but it isn’t to be recommended, as it clearly takes a toll on the physical and mental health of the driver. Even the best long distance runner eventually must stop and rest.
This too is essential for the driver: knowing when to take a break or even a short nap, not only lifting the body but also assisting the spirit. Attitude, keeping the proverbial “even keel”, especially during a down hour or two, lends balance to the driver’s determination to keep going. Grim and sour-faced drivers quickly fall away.
While maybe not always quite smiling, I attempt to maintain some kind of positive perspective, otherwise the grind of too many miles fatigues, tires me out. A happy cabbie translates into an awake cabbie, a ten dollar tip always a good jolt of monetary caffeine, much better than a double espresso. If you ever stumble into my taxi, you now know how to guarantee that my eyes will remain wide open. Just say, “San Francisco, please,” and watch what happens. 900 miles and twelve hours later we’ll be crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. And can I suggest stopping in Chinatown? I know of a few good places. We should be ready for some chow mien by then.
This article was written by guest writer Joe Blondo of Tacoma, Washington. If you like this piece, continue reading Joe’s blog Real Seattle Taxi. TaxiFareFinder would like to give a big thanks to Joe for all his effort and support, we love our taxi drivers!