Most cabbies will tell you that driving a cab is 90 percent boring, the other ten percent of the time, well, stuff happens.
I had my good share of the ten percent.
When a fare stepped into my cab, I’d quietly check them out. It’s hard to gauge a person on what they’re wearing and their body language. When your peace of mind relies on making a good call on letting them get in, or asking them to get out, it’s important to trust your instincts.
It takes experience to know how important it is to be firm with people. It’s the middle of the night, it’s a big city, it’s full of nice people having a good time, and it’s full of villains and muggers who are after your wallet.
I listened to the “Funk”, the taxi radio, all of the time. There could be a call for help. It’s your closest friend.
Most of the time, call-outs were trivial. A waste of everybody’s time. A cabby arguing with his snotty fare — nothing more.
Once in a while, it was dead serious stuff. A gun to the head, a knife, a petrified cabby parked in a dark street. Two or three cabs parked up close, observing, and the cops gently edging forwards towards the cab. They don’t want to set off the mugger, make it worse; two dark figures sitting together in a cab. Which one is the bad-guy? Softly, softly, catchee-monkey. The German Polizei were always on the ball, first class when it came to responding to a cabby in trouble.
I always thought of my cab as the cage. I, the tiger who lived in the cage. The fares who stepped into my cab, if they looked a little wicked, could never know my rules.
They were in my cage. The Tiger’s Cage. Be nice, and I’ll be nice.
I was once a soldier. The Regiment, “The Tigers”. Well, that means I’m a tiger — it also helped that I was still young, and fighting fit. The rules meant I had a strategy.
The first two years taught me hard lessons. The sudden presence of a sharply honed knife made me think deeply about my job. It made me think about being alone out there in the night. So what if I could get my hands on the microphone, and say something? A knife close to your throat, or held at your side, needs to move only slightly, and you’re done.
I need to be in control. I’d deal with my own problems.
The passenger edging about in his seat behind me. Open plan cab, Daimler-Mercedes. His hand slips into his back-pocket. When I allow him to get fully behind me, it’s over. He has all the advantage and my Tiger Plan is useless. The address he gave me leads us into a dark and lonely street. My knowledge of the city is my advantage — it’s better than his. He acts strangely, suspiciously. I tell him that there’s a road block ahead. I have to divert, take a well lit main street. That screws up his plans for a quick, and unobserved mugging.
Once into the main street, cars and people flow, I slow down for pedestrians crossing, I stop the taxi, I’m back in control, I take the risk that I’ll make him angry, I tell him the ride is over — but, you’re going to pay the price. I don’t pay, you do.
“You don’t want to pay?”, then I’ll call a cop. They’ll make you pay.
Muggers don’t like the bright lights or busy streets or the cops.
Cabbies thrive in the business of night-life.
There are a lot of kind hearts out there. Real lovers and friends, and people simply looking for thrills. Bars, clubs, gambling, secret parties. Very secret parties.
Berlin offers everything you are looking for; it caters to every taste with a big dose of tolerance.
If you like to spend your nights chained to the Tower of Power with a Dom thrashing your body, leather against skin, then you’ll find your tribe. A Mistress to push you around and treat you like a slave? No problem, just ask a taxi driver. The cabby’ll take you to the right door and you enter into your chosen world — it’s all legal. Just do it behind closed doors.
A cabby needs to get down low. Find the rhythm of the city, the people, know what the fares are looking for and take them straight there. If you don’t know where to find sex for sale, then you shouldn’t be a cabby. If you don’t like to listen to the weird stuff that a fare has to talk about, then don’t be a cabby. Nights are dark, the people are colourful.
04.30 am, finding a fare is difficult. I change direction and drive to the centre of Berlin. As I cut across the intersection towards the Ku’Damm, I see a young woman talking to a man.
They’re outside a club called, “Jungle”. When she sees me, her hand shoots up, and she runs to the kerb. I pull up in front of her.
She jumps into the front seat. She looks at me and tells me where she wants to go. She talks quickly. She’s speaking German with an Italian accent and her hands are turning circles.
She gives me the address. The end of the Ku’damm, three kilometres away, a block of flats. I drive and she’s still talking. Lots. She’s talking about herself.
I turn into the Ku’damm and use the bus lane to pass slow traffic. So far, I know she’s in the film business, then she clarifies, she’s in the porn business — an actress. She might be a star.
She goes on to tell me about her career. She has a great ass, she tells me so. Do I want to see it? Before I can say anything, such as ‘no’, she leans to the right and pulls up her short skirt — I don’t look, but my peripheral vision is pretty good. She is exposing her backside to me.
She says, “Look, look! Don’t you want to see my ass?”
I smile, take a quick glance and carry on looking all the way down the Ku’damm. A long straight road with three lanes, and lots of traffic. We stop at a red light. She’s covered her backside again. She isn’t embarrassed, I’m not shocked.
“Don’t you like my ass?”
I answer that I think it’s lovely. She leans over, pulls up her skirt and shows me again. I look. It is a good looking ass. Enough, I look away. I’m embarrassed by my actions. It’s like trying to get someone to be quiet by listening and nodding, hoping they’ll stop talking. I thought if I do what she tells me she’ll stop showing me her assets.
I look out the window, to my left. I see another cab. The driver is looking at me. His face is slightly red, and he’s frowning at me. He must be confused about what’s happening in my cab. “I don’t need help”. It’s all in a night’s work.
The lights turn green, I hit the gas and we smoothly sweep past traffic. Bus lanes are a dream. My fare is still talking. It’s a monologue about her past, present and future. Then she says something that catches my attention.
“I give the best blow-job in the business.”
“You have to be good,” — “some people don’t do a good blow-job. I do.”
“Really, well that’s fine.” I said
“I’ll give you a blow-job, then you’ll know what I mean.”
There’s that ten percent of weird stuff that happens in a cab, but this was a new ten percent for me.
I’ve had great conversations with fares. Sometimes, conversations have led to a café where we talk and get to know each other. A welcome break in a long night. Sometimes, it ended with a warm kiss, an exchanged phone number, or a simple “Au revoir”.
I turn off the Ku’Damm. The block of flats is in sight, she points to an entrance that leads into a courtyard. At this point, I’m on high alert; I’m a cab driver being led into a lonely courtyard by a woman who wants to give me a blow-job — I’m not sure if I want a blow-job, but I do want to get paid and get back to earning.
It wouldn’t be the first time that a cabby falls for the “honeytrap”. Normally, a pretty woman will hail a cab, get the cabby to take her to an address, then tell him that she left her purse in a bar — she has money in the flat. It’s on the kitchen table. The cabby goes with her, enters the flat and is confronted by two burly fellows who rob him of his takings. I don’t want that.
I decide to forego the blow-job, I want to see her money and get paid.
We pull up in the courtyard. My eyes are darting around the place, dark shadows, parked cars, no strange movements. It’s quiet.
I look at her, she is smiling at me. I can feel her hands on my lap, she unzips my jeans. She goes down on me, I look at the taxi-meter. Its red digital light shows fourteen Deutschmarks to pay. ‘I better get my money,’ I think. Not getting paid hurts. Paying my bills — it’s hard enough without getting mixed up with fares who want to give strangers blow-jobs.
She is an expert, I suppose. A porn actress, star, fledgling star — I don’t know, she’s going full tilt at the job. I can feel my body respond keenly, but my cabby’s mind is looking at the meter — fourteen little smackers to pay. I want the dosh. My body is in conflict with my wallet.
Her head is going up and down like a yo-yo. I better get this over without disappointment. I go with the flow, feel her enthusiasm. I’m with it now, it’s good. I look around the courtyard. It’s still as the night. In the rearview mirror I see a patrol car slowly pass. It’s gone.
Everything is going fine and I realise suddenly that my body has fully joined in the action. She is a star. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but I try and warn her that I’m about come to the end of my tether, you know. So I start to groan, I’m faking, but I don’t want this poor soul to go home with a mouth full of stranger. I try and lift her head, but she insists on staying put down there. Have it your way. And so she does.
She raises her head, and looks at me, then asks if I have a tissue. I find one and hand it to her. As if wiping sweat from her forehead, she wipes her mouth, pads at the edges of her lips, leans over and twists the rearview mirror towards herself. She checks her lips, all is well, so she opens her purse and pays the cab fare.
She says that she’d invite me in for coffee, but her flatmate is home.
She gives me a kiss on the cheek, smiles as she gets out then walks across the courtyard. She turns at the door and waves goodbye.