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The conversation started out in a humourous way, something like this: “Good morning where would you like to go?” “I have no idea.” He laughs. “Actually I need to get to the new Westpac (bank) HQ, do you know where that is?” “Yes. Actually I had a passenger once who asked me to take him home but he had no idea where home was. We drove and drove until he recognised places. I eventually got him home but it was a big fare. You meet some strange people in cabs. But not all cabbies are the same you know. Not every one would go to the trouble of helping someone like that. And not every cabbie has a sense of humour – they would kick him out. Mind you, often people get in and try and be funny with us about where we are to take them.”
That of course prompted me to tell him about some of the cabbies I meet. I told him about the Kurd. He laughed and said “I am an Iraqi. But I came here 25 years ago.I am a draftsman. I started out here in Sydney as a cabbie, only until I could get a drafting job.But I was able to turn this into a career.I love it. I came here because I am a Christian, not a Moslem. With only 2% of the population in Iraq Christian it was hard to make a living. But making a living here in the cabs can be up and down. You have to stick with it to do well. Mind you, never trust a cabbie when he tells you how much he earns. If he earns $100 he will say he has earned $70. If he has earned $20 he will tell you he has earned $100. It is a very competitive business and no one will tell you, or the tax office exactly what they earn. But especially we don’t want to tell each other. The competition becomes worse when some days you can pay your bills, other days you have to wait to pay your bills, and even some days you have to pay to be a cabbie! But I do well and feed my family and love what I do. I am very glad I never went and found a drafting job, I would have to shave every day and wear a suit. Phew.” (and proceeds to scratch a five o’clock salt and pepper shadow that has not been shaved for three or four days).