Is there a nobler creature alive than the Jamaican Taxi driver? I think not, dear reader. For industry, resourcefulness and sheer entrepreneurship, I daresay few are his equal.
Now, I am sure there are those of you who will disagree with me. No doubt there are some of you who, having been involved in some unpleasant (but no doubt rare) incident with a taxi driver, may be inclined to speak less highly of the breed. Some of you, for example, will recall being trapped behind a taxi creeping along at 2 miles per hour, as its driver scanned the sidewalks for customers, oblivious to the blowing of your horn and your shouted curses. Others of you will recall having been almost run off the road by the same taximan who, having secured a customer, is now racing at an unholy speed to deliver said customer to their destination.
But there is not one of those taximen who, on your approach, will not drop everything he is doing to come to your service. At a moment’s notice, he will do all in his power to see to it that you are conveyed safely and speedily to your destination.
And do not be put off by the “slightly-less-than-pristine” condition of his vehicle (invariably an aging white Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sunny). If a dent or two, a broken windshield, and torn seats, in an otherwise sound vehicle, will not prevent you from getting to your destination, then why dwell on them?
Better to settle yourself in your seat and enjoy the ride. If your seatbelt does not work then strap it around you as best you can and allow your driver to regale you with his wit and erudition. There are few creatures more knowledgeable (and loquacious) than the Jamaican taximan. His knowledge of local politics, cricket and the intricacies of male/female relationships will astound you - as will his determination to share the totality of his knowledge with you in the 15 minutes between Parade and Half Way Tree.
I say open your mind and learn. It may take your mind off the alarming smoothness of his tyres. There is no need for distress, however, as bald tyres only require a firmer step on the brake pedal… and that he starts braking a tad earlier than he normally would. Neither task will trouble an experienced taximan.
If he should stop to pick up another passenger or two (or six) do not let this trouble you either. As your driver will explain - “they going almost di same place as you”. And if it seems that four on the backseat, three in the passenger’s seat, two in the trunk and one on your driver’s lap is tantamount to overcrowding, then just remind yourself that he is only doing (for ten others) what he is doing for you – seeing to it that you get to your destination as expeditiously as possible.
And if you would see the Jamaican taximan at his very finest, then you need only suggest that you are running a tad bit late. Is there anything he can do? Better you should ask does Jesus loves the little children? Is the Government corrupt? Can Asafa run faster than that bredda dem ketch wid drugs the other day?
I promise you, your driver was just waiting for this kind of encouragement. Like carrots to a donkey, a whip to a racehorse and bribes to a corrupt politician, strenuous efforts on your behalf will surely follow. Your driver will cease all conversation, lower his head and give his full attention to his hitherto neglected gas pedal. If he must drive the wrong way up a one-way street, create a third lane where none existed before, drive on a crowded sidewalk, all while blowing his horn as if the traffic should part before him like Moses at the Red Sea - then so be it.
And if you think a mere red light will stop your driver, then you have misjudged him – in fact you have grievously underestimated him. Your driver will speed through that light with all the serenity of one to whom the Almighty Himself has promised immortality. What might deter an ordinary driver will not daunt this road warrior.
As for the speed limit? As your driver will advise you, this is merely an arbitrary and unrealistic number created as a hindrance to black people trying to do their business.
Heavy traffic? Not to worry. Your driver knows short cuts that even those who laid out the plans for the city of Kingston are unaware of.
And so what if the result is terrified pedestrians, vigorous curses from other drivers and even a policeman in hot pursuit? Getting you to your destination is the only goal worthy of your driver’s attention.
If, on arrival, you are somewhat perplexed as to how he managed to calculate your fare, I beg you, hold your tongue. $500 from Red Hills Road to Manor Park may seem high to you, but please consider all that his gone into making your trip a pleasant one: the experience painstakingly gained from numerous years and endless miles on the road, the traffic tickets too numerous to count (or pay), the countless hours rapping in the rum bar while he honed his conversation skills, and even more years of putting up with surly and uncommunicative passengers like you - who quarrel every time he breaks a stoplight. No sir, he has earned every penny of that money!
So, all hail these noble denizens of the road! Facilitators of commerce and transporters of the common man - for theirs is a difficult lot. Noble Taximan, I salute you!