Monday 16 August 2021

Book ~ "Driven: The Secret Lives of Taxi Drivers" (2020) Marcello Di Cintio

From Goodreads ~ "A taxi," writes Marcello Di Cintio, "is a border." 

Under the familiar roof light of every cab is a space both private and public: accessible to all and yet, once the doors close, strangely intimate - a space in which two strangers who might otherwise never have met share a five or fifty minute trip. 

Quotidian themselves, taxis transcend everyday barriers between the wealthy and the working class, white people and people of colour, those who give direction and those who follow, those who speak and those who listen - and yet, though driver and fare are close enough to reach out and touch one another, most trips are characterized by complete silence. 

In a series of interviews with North American taxi drivers, Di Cintio seeks out those missed conversations, revealing the untold lives of the people who take us where we want to go.

In 2018, the author spent a year travelling across Canada to seek out the stories of our taxi drivers.  He wanted to hear their back stories, where they came from and how/why they became taxi drivers.  He wasn't interested in meeting the "overeducated" ... those who had degrees from other countries who were forced to drive a taxi because their education wasn't recognized here.  Most drivers didn't want to meet with him or were too busy.  

The drivers he did talk who lived across Canada ... from St. John's, NF, to Yellowknife, YT.  Most came from somewhere else, some from war-torn countries.  He spoke with men and women, some with families and some were single.  

There are fourteen chapters and everyone had a story to tell, including a man who was estranged from his very religious and famous father, an organization in Winnipeg that just drives women so they will be safe, the fight against Uber, a Russian who was stranded in St. John's and longs to go home and more, and I found them interesting.  As a head's up, there are stories of violence and there is swearing.

At the end, there is a postscript to give updates on how the drivers are doing now.  Unfortunately, COVID has hurt the industry ... some drivers are barely getting by and some have left.

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