I have a newfound respect for my traditional enemy, the taxi driver. The respect continues to grow each day as I, in a mad panic, try and find a public toilet shortly after downing my morning coffee. My subconscious is starting to build a map of Sydney’s best amenities with nearby parking and a general standard of cleanliness. To the taxi drivers of Sydney and across the world, with your steel bladders and iron bowels, I salute you. To the hundreds of people who saw me semi-sprinting down Military road on Tuesday morning, hunched over with straight legs and a look of sheer terror on my face, I apologise. And yes, I did make it, if only just.
Feeling extremely relieved I headed back over the Harbour Bridge and into Sydney’s bustling CBD.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Pete- 4 minutes
Standing at the intersection of Kent and Druitt with a large linen sack over his shoulder was Pete. He was tall, over 6ft, with long, brown, curly hair which danced in the wake of warm air produced by the passing 441 bus. Middle-aged, about 40, Pete wore a tight white shirt tucked into faded blue jeans. He oozed rock ‘n’ roll.
“Alright pal, just down to The Rocks, cheers,” said Pete politely in a strong Geordie accent. After a short conversation about how much Sydney has changed over the past decade, Pete revealed he was in town as the touring manager for an international rock act. The linen sack in the back of my car contained this particular artists dry cleaning.
“Yer see, it’s not all glitz and glamour. I’m getting his best shirts washed while he climbs the harbour bridge,” said Pete with a grin.
Pete spoke of his love for Sydney’s Inner West, in particular, Newtown, “I like it out there. There’s no nonsense. I can shoot a game of pool without some prick asking me how much I earn.”
Pete continued his tirade, “The CBDs full of bars with $12 beers and bellends who would pay double that just for the status. Too many suits, too many tossers pal. When I retire I’m buying a boat and sailing deep into the South Pacific with nothing but my thoughts, the sunshine, and coconuts for dinner.”
Much to Pete’s disdain, I dropped him back to his swanky Sydney hotel which served $15 beers. “If it were up to me I’d stay in a flippin hostel in the cross,” said Pete indignantly as he hopped out of my car and disappeared into the lobby with marble floors.
As per my usual Uber tactics, I headed East toward Bondi. The man I was about to pick up would have made Pete’s blood boil.
Beep Beep Beep. Jamie – Coogee – 6 minutes
I found Jamie pacing menacingly in the driveway of a house in Dolphin St. He was muttering to himself and making over exaggerated hand movements. “Ah for f#!ks sake, not another drug-crazed lunatic like Jacob,” I said to myself as Jamie strutted toward my car.
He was wearing a sharp navy suit with tan coloured shoes. He was no older than 35, although his tanned skin may have gifted him a few years. He had deep-set, dark beady eyes bordering on black, and a turned up, almost cartoon-like nose. He was talking very loudly to himself, or so I thought.
Jamie was wearing one of those hands-free earpieces. He was shouting so loudly into the thing I immediately winced as he entered my car.
“YEAH, YEAH, YEAH I’ll be on the f#!king golf course from October onwards geeza!” shouted Jamie into the earpiece in a strong English accent. “My team billed $300k between em this month. I told those f#!king idiots I’d fly em all to Hamilton Island if they hit budget AHAHAHA! Of course I’m not flying em to Hammy Island, I’m buying meself a new motorbike innit!”
Jamie hadn’t entered his destination into the app so I sat patiently waiting for a break in his conversation to ask where he would like to go. Before I got a chance to ask, Jamie turned to me and said, “Hang on a second Stewy, this cabbies got no bleedin idea where we are going. WYNYARD STATION PAL! Go on, hop to it.” I was instantly incensed by his rudeness. “F#!k this guy,” I said so forcefully in my mind it almost spilled out my lips.
His phone conversation continued. “Villa is gonna do your lot this weekend Stewy you mug. YOU’VE GOT NO FANS! HAHAHAHA. Alright pal, see yer later.” Finally Jamie ended his phone call, although I immediately wished he hadn’t.
He turned to me and said with a smirk, “Did you hear all that then?” With all my strength I mustered a polite response, “yeah mate, it sounds like you’re having a good year.”
“A good year?” Jamie fired back incredulously. “I’m smashing the f#!king granny out of this year son,” he said as he nodded to himself.
“I work in recruitment yeh! In our office there is a bell and you ring it every time you close a f#!king deal. Let me say this to yer’, I’ve had more bell rings this year than Vatican City. You better F#!king believe it.”
By this stage I was looking around my car for a hidden camera. Surely I was being stitched up. There is no way a man like this actually exists.
“Where yer from pal?” Asked Jamie. “Sydney,” I flatly replied.
“Me, I’m from Birmingham. I was in the army back home before I got into this game. More cabbage, if yer know what I mean,” said Jamie as he rubbed his thumb against his fingers to symbolise money.
Jamie lowered his window before positioning his arms as if he were holding a rifle. “What on earth is he doing?” I wondered.
“I could hit an insurgent from 200 yards,” said Jamie as he closed one eye, took a deep breath and clicked his finger, as if to fire the imaginary gun at a cockatoo flying overhead. “Got it!” He announced as he looked over at me, nodding his head.
I pulled into George St. and stopped outside Wynyard station. Jamie had one more parting gift for me. He whipped out a business card from his wallet before flicking it down onto my dashboard. He looked over at me and said, “I like you….. when you want to make some real money, gimme a call.” With that, he was gone.
I turned my app off and headed home as I daydreamed about Pete’s boat in the South Pacific, hoping he had an extra place for me.