Someone I dated several years ago once told me I was “the poshest taxi driver” she had ever had the pleasure to chat with. In reality, of course, my working class credentials are strong, but along with one or two other quotes, I liked this so much I put it on the front page of my web site. It has happily resided there, as a sort of placeholder, for two years.
The daily struggle to make a living as a taxi driver in small town Oxfordshire is real and it is relentless. It often precludes work on initiatives which might move things forward and make the daily situation better. Projects which would have taken weeks and months in a different time now take months, or even years and many creative ideas are simply digitised and then dropped altogether, for lack of time to make them into reality.
When my father was dying and I was visiting him most days for months on end at the top of the John Radcliffe Hospital - a hairs breadth from Heaven, with the best views of the dreaming spires to be found anywhere in Oxford - it seemed like a good thing to do, to become a taxi driver, “just until I get myself sorted, Dad.”
From previous part time work as a chauffeur, I already had the licence, issued by the Vale of Waite Horse, enabling me to work in Abingdon, not that far away from where I live. There was daily cash flow and those were the days of a nightclub in Abingdon operating Thursday to Saturday, with Aunt Sally, darts and pool leagues on other nights of the week.
The night club is long gone, transmogrified into a gym, and those who play pub games these days tend to have one of their own as a designated driver, rather than a lucrative multi-drop taxi journey to and from the local pub, where they have one or two drinks to last them the whole night. These are the nights of waiting for 1 hour 23 minutes for a job to come along.
Borne out of necessity having run out of money during the six years I looked after my late father, yet another anniversary now approaches: eight years of the prime of my life driving taxis in and around Abingdon. One to two hundred people a week, tens of thousands of miles a year, thousands of hours of conversation in my own constantly changing work place. Something which has become a staple opening gambit, alongside “been busy?” is that I am somehow over qualified to be a taxi driver.
Last year, a friend at church said to me they thought I should consider becoming a preacher. When somebody I respect offers such a suggestion, there is obviously an obligation to prayerfully think on it. But what we call discernment is the hardest thing about making an attempt at living the Christian life. Perhaps even it is also, in life in general.