**Needless to say, the views in this selection do not represent those of the author**
**Also, upon reading this again, I’m not sure it works as a stand alone. Ah well.**
I couldn’t find work on the Island: another premonition of things to come. I walked around the town a lot, however, usually late at night (it was another thing I thought ‘writers’ did). One night, I had a lengthy conversation with a pedi-cab driver named Chico, who assured me that should I take on his trade, I would be set for life. I was skeptical, but desperate enough give it a try.
The next day, I walked down to Tataki Taxi central, in hopes of procuring employment. The place was reminiscent of an episode of Taxi. By the time I got there, the early morning cabbies were just returning from their shifts and the late night drivers, riding in, all exhausted. I asked one of the cabbies who I should talk to, being interested in working for Tataki and he pointed me in the direction of an office from which thick clouds of cigar smoke flowed like the blanket of Victorian fog, which, upon my arrival to this strange city, had begun to populate my dreams like an unwelcome guest. “The owner’s name is Bill” he said with a grin, “He’s quite the character, but he’s a good man: remember that.” I walked toward office with a spring in my step, eager to see the man responsible for all that smoke.
Bill was on the phone, but gestured for me to grab a chair in front of his desk while I waited. I sat down and pretended not to listen to a rather intense conversation he was having with his girlfriend, though I then assumed her to the man’s daughter. Let me explain.
Bill was well into his fifties when I first met him, though he did everything possible to hide it. The first line of defense against our ability to gauge the man’s actual age was the ever-present cap he wore upon his bald skull. For the first three weeks I worked at Tataki Taxi, I was under the mistaken impression that my boss had a full head of hair: I never would have guessed that he was without hair. But he was, an embarrassing reality revealed when a disgruntled employee stole the cap from my boss’s head and ran out the door, making Bill desperately dive beneath his large, cedar desk. He didn’t come back to work for days and when he finally returned, he wore a newly purchased poor boy cap upon his gleaming skull. He fired anyone who brought up follicle related topics.
I worked at Tataki Taxi for about four months and made maybe $200 total: I was a horrible salesman. Upon being hired, I was forced to take a one on one introductory course from the man himself. Bill personally instructed me on how to make money as a Tataki Taxi driver. He spoke at length about what a lucrative job Kabbing could be, if one were to think of it with the right perspective. On the wall of his office, he had a long list of handwritten scrawls by previous Tataki drivers detailing, with incredible detail, the days in which they hauled in upwards of $500. I was convinced that I too, would be rich and soon.
“What you are selling here, Nick… is it Nick?”
“Um, yeah. My name is Nick”
“Alright, Nick, the question was rhetorical. I’ll give you a freebee: what you are selling here is not, let me emphasize, it is most definately not, a Kab ride.”
“Um, ok. Well, Bill, what am I selling… is this a front? You guys sellin’ pot like everyone else here?”
Bill didn’t even pause to chuckle. “You are selling an experience. Every summer, over 100, 000 tourists come to Victoria. They come for one reason, and one reason only. Guess what reason that is, Nick.”
“Um, to see the sights?” I grinned, ironic.
“No. Nick, they come here to spend money! Think about it. North Americans have, on average, three weeks of holiday time per year. Those three weeks are what keep them going when they are going out of their fucking skulls punching the clock at some bullshit 9-5 job. (note: Tataki Taxi recruited potential Kabbies by offering an alternative to comparatively dull 9-5 work) They save every penny, Nick, for these three weeks. They want to give it to you! Let me give you a little scenario here. You’re a dude. You will understand.”
“So, you take your lovely lady away on a magical vacation to Canada’s most beautiful city. You get off the plane, take a Kab to the hotel and drop off your shit. You wanna show her a good time, right? Hope you do! So you leave the hotel and you are totally lost. You get one of those free maps they give out in the lobby and it doesn’t help at all. You want to eat, but where should you go? You want to have a drink, but have no idea where the hotspots are! When suddenly, God himself sends you an angel! Do you know who this angel is, Nick? Tell me who this angel is!”
“The angel is YOU, Nick! God has sent you to deliver these poor bastards from what has the makings of a boring vacation! YOU can tell them where they should go! You even have coupons… you know about the coupons, right?” I pull the pile of coupons he had given me three days prior from my pocket to show him. “You can save them, 10% on a succulent feast of crab from some of this towns best restaurants!” By this time, he was standing on his chair. “NICK! You are their angel! Not only can you tell them where they should go, but you can take them there in the back of your wonderfully unique and completely absurd ‘vehicle’! NICK, do you know how much these men wanna get laid? Again, they have been busting their fucking asses for the better part of a year in order to pay for this vacation and trust me, if you are working nine to five, five days a week, you are not getting laid regular! I mean, you sink into a routine, man! Every day, you wake up at the same time. Maybe you give your wife a kiss on the cheek before heading out to a day that resembles, no, doesn’t resemble, but is EXACTLY THE SAME as the one before!” He is now standing on his desk. I am scared, at this point, though I try not to let on.
“NICK, vacations are the one time in most of these men’s lives, where they have a hope in hell of getting some pussy! SHAVED PUSSY, you understand? Do you?”
“Yeah. I like shaved pussy.”
“OF COURSE YOU DO! You have a set of balls, don’t you Nick?”
“Well, then, use them! Follow their lead!”
“Follow their lead, Nick! You’ve got a girlfriend, right?”
“Uh, yeah, I think so…”
“Ok. Well, you’ve got yourself a special lady then, right?”
“Ok. So Nick, you’ve gotta let your fuckin’ balls lead you! Because you are the other side of the fuckin’ gold coin I wanna throw your direction. Follow me, follow me (Bill loved Snoop Dogg) follow me, so, on one side of the coin is the middle aged motherfucker you are trying to persuade to get, along with his wife, of course, into the Kab. This guy has blue fuckin’ balls. Partially ‘cuz his wife’s not interested and partially because, on the odd occasions when she is the fucker can’t even get it up! You understand? Ha! Probably not!” He gives me a big-brotherly slap to the shoulder. “This is his big fuckin’ chance, Nick! His old ass certainly would not be able to do what you are offering to do. Fucker would have a heartattack half way up that little fuckin’ hill on Government Street if he was riding even your run of the mill bicycle, let alone one of these big bastards… you riding a four seater or a two seater right now?”
“I’m mostly riding twos.”
“Well, anyways. You need to own the twos! Fours are a totally different universe! But you my friend, are lucky: you are riding romance incarnate! Follow me, follow me, follow me…” I think I rolled my eyes, but luckily he didn’t see.
“You, Nick! You, are fully responsible for getting this fucker laid! His wife has a front row seat! She is looking at your ass, Nick, don’t kid yourself! Here you are sweating, trying to get this fat fuck and his wife to a four coarse meal of prawn, potato and salmon: you bust your ass, to get them there as fast as you possibly can. And they notice. He, of course, is conflicted. On one hand, he has to appear to enjoy the ride; he’s paying for it after all. He knows his fucking wife is looking at your ass—she’s having a bit too much fun doing it, but maybe her pussy’s getting a little wet. Maybe all of the adulation and excitement will be transferred, a few hours later, to his miserable, old, limp dick! And that is why he is willing to pay you! That is why he is willing to give you a one hundred dollar tip! To transfer all the energy you have created onto himself! I know these pricks. I used to work nine to five, myself. I built this industry with them in mind.”
“And you! Let’s not forget about ‘number one’ here! You are getting paid to get in shape! I’ve been watching you, my friend, and I’ve noticed that since you’ve started working here, you’ve toned down quite a bit. When you came in here that first day, I took you in. You had potential. Maybe a buck or two overweight, but I could tell you were strong even then. And now, you’ve shaved that extra weight off and you’re lookin’ good. Every girl in this town wants to fuck a Tataki Taxi driver: that’s just the way it goes. We’re in good shape, we make good money and we’re social: a good catch, it you ask me! Tell me, Nick, is your special lady happy you’ve started riding with us, or what?” Again, he gave me no time to reply. “Of course she is! I betcha part of the reason you’ve dropped all that weight is that you are getting laid, what, four, five times a day?”
“No need to get into the nitty gritty here, I know. So, there you have it, Nick. You’ve got motivation coming out of your fuckin’ ass! You know they’re out there, you know they want to give you their money, you just have to get out there and put yourself in a place where you can get it! So do it! What the fuck are you doing here, listening to me fuckin’ yabber when there are rich motherfuckers out there right now, looking around waiting for someone to give there unending supply of American, yes, American, greenbacks to! Betcha Chico made $1000 today! Did he tell you he spends his off season surfing in Hawaii? That could… no, it will be you! Now get the fuck out of my office and make some money for yourself and that special lady of yours! Leave! Now!”
Bill got off his desk, nonchalantly. He assumed his seat and adjusted his cap, looking at me as if to ask if I had any questions. I didn’t.
I set off that day, after paying the obligatory $60 lease for the squeaky cab between my legs, emboldened by Randy’s excited rant only to make $30 for a quick drop off at Big Bad John’s courtesy of two middle aged riders who complained, for the duration of the ride, about my ‘lack of initiative’. They tipped me $1 on a $29 fare. On that day, like many before and after, I paid to work in our Province’s capital city.
*** If you even remotely enjoyed reading what you have just read, I would encourage you to join Milk and Honey (or, The Story of a Novel)’s Facebook Page at: