After a lovely meal and a few too many drinks with my other half, Claire, we made the sensible decision to catch a cab home. And while we sat in back of the taxi, like couples do, the cab driver sat up front, with his burning hatred riding shotgun.
We soon learned he was not a happy camper.
What is it that makes men angry? What could turn him into a bitter, twisted being that positively vibrated with negative energy? His foul outlook revealed itself in the smallest ways, from the way he yank the indicator this way and that, to the way he looked like he’d smelled a particularly vile fart when we first got in the car. He didn’t even find it amusing that as we approached his cab, with him standing next to it, I’d mistaken him for a passenger, and had gotten in the cab behind his in the cab rank. He just looked at me like I had wasted 15 seconds of his life.
“Where to?” he asked in a gruff voice.
I told him my address, and then, surprisingly, he started a conversation. But like everything else about this man, it was tinged with contempt for, well, everything.
“God, look at this place,” he said as he looked out the window at the humming Manuka nightlife. “Bloody horrible. Glad I live out in the sticks. Away from all this rubbish.”
Now, he may well have just referred to me as rubbish, as I was after all part of the rubbish just moments before getting in his cab, but I decided to learn more about this angry little man. “So whereabouts do you live, then?” I asked.
“Way out. In the scrub,” he replied.
“In the scrub?” I had visions of him crawling through long grass, digging for grubs, and perhaps sleeping in a large nest.
“Yeah, out past Hall. It’s nothing special. My ex-wife got everything else.”
DING! There it was. The secret to why this cab driver hated everything so fucking much. Not that it was much of a secret… I didn’t really have to dig very far to get that out of him.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. Claire had gone a bit quiet, preferring to lay low.
“Of course, she hasn’t got shit now, ‘coz she died, didn’t she!” He even gave a little laugh as he recounted this fond memory. “About 2002, she died. She didn’t get to keep any of it, at least.”
It could have easily descended into awkward silence, but I soldiered on. I related that a good friend of mine had been divorced by his wife, and it had taken him ten years to recover from it.
Now I was speaking his language. He launched into his sales spiel for a program he was writing to help men get through the pain of divorce. It was a series of classes that the suffering men would attend, and while I’m sure it would help some men, I couldn’t help but think it was flawed in one major way: If the guy who wrote it had so obviously not recovered from his divorce, then doesn’t that bode badly for the whole course?It’d be like having Keith Richards as your Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor.
By the time we got home, I was feeling the weight of this man’s troubles bearing down on me, and I think Claire was too. We had pulled up outside my apartment and sat through a couple more minutes about his program before we made good our escape.
I hope I never end up a bitter old man. I’ve had a glimpse of it, and I didn’t like what I saw. So here’s to growing older with plenty of happiness and joy, to become the jolly old sod who laughs and jokes and drinks too much at Christmas lunch before falling asleep snoring and farting on the couch in front of the telly!
Ciao for now.