Last night I played the role of Taxi Driver. A friend invited us over to celebrate his PhD conferring in Thurles but my son was also invited to an 18th birthday near Tipperary town. I promised last week that I would drive him over and pick him up later.
So I was there for the start of the graduation party, and then left about 8 o’clock to drive to Tipperary. I dropped my two younger kids home on the way. I got back to the party about 9:30. It is funny to see how the nature of a party changes when you step out and then come back in again. The early sprinters are fading fast as they mellow in their cups. The slow starters are getting into their stride, and all the energy in the room has shifted from one group to another.
As a designated driver you stand as an observer to the human condition. Sometimes you feel a bit like Travis Bickle! Driving back through Tipperary town after collecting Jerry we could see all the clubbers and the smokers on the streets. Girls in tight skirts and impossible heels. Young lads with unlikely haircuts doing their best to look cool. Club bouncers trying to look intimidating and welcoming at the same time. Saturday night on the main drag…it’s a funny old world.
Thank God for the rain which has helped wash away the garbage and the trash off the sidewalks. I’m workin’ long hours now. 6:00 in the afternoon to 6:00 in the morning, sometimes even 8:00 in the morning. Six days a week, sometimes seven days a week. It’s a long hustle, but it keeps me real busy. I can take in 300, 350 a week, sometimes even more when I do it off the meter.
All the animals come out at night – whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies. Sick, venal. Someday a real rain’ll come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take ’em to Harlem. I don’t care. Don’t make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won’t even take spooks. Don’t make no difference to me.
—————————————————————————————————————-Paul Schrader: Taxi Driver
The Very Moral Taxi Ride : by Erich Kästner Tr. Eva Geisel
He took a cab; he thought it right—
She talked of her husband the while.
He knew she looked her best that night,
But didn’t so much as smile.
Night’s alleyways went spinning by.
A stranger drove the car.
The stars were dressed up prettily.
The streets were pretty bare.
And when the taxi swung round curves
Their knees would manage to touch,
And both of them got a fit of nerves
Whenever it swung too much.
He spoke of a play he had just seen.
That sounded somewhat too ready.
She said how happy her marriage had been.
Her voice was not very steady.
Though looking out of the window, he knew
Her eyes had him fixed with a stare.
And suddenly she was troubled too
And said they were almost there.
Then they were silent for a stretch.
Overhead a storm-cloud broke.
In the end he felt a stupid wretch
And told her a silly joke.
The air was mild. And the taxi ran.
It smelled of fun and fuel.
For nature neither gave a damn.
Their knees were fighting a duel.
And then they got out. He gave her his hand.
And left. And thought: that’s that.
But when he got home he couldn’t stand
It, and kicked a hole in his hat.