“I got a call late at night the other week,” said Paddy the taxi driver. “The boys said there was a woman looking for a lift to Limerick. I told her it would be fifty euro at that hour. She was a fine-lookin’ woman. When we got to Limerick she asked me to drop her off at the railway station and she’d get the money from the cash machine. Well, she went in but she never came out again. I waited outside in the car for an hour and then drove back home. A guard told me one time that it could cost five hundred to get back fifty if you went to court. And then the day the case came up, the judge might defer it and you’d lose another day’s work. You could ask a person for the fare when they sat into the car but then they’d think you didn’t trust them.”
Not all of Paddy’s stories feature the taxi driver as victim. As we travelled along the dark, narrow country roads in shadow of the Galty Mountains, he told one that one of the lads had told him about an old woman living alone in some city who decided to go to a concert. So she called a taxi, but when she got there and looked in her handbag for the ticket, she realized that she had left it home. So she asked the people there to call her another taxi and when they arrived at her house, they saw the taxi that brought her to the music venue parked outside her door. And when she went in, there was the taxi driver robbing her house.
“Two Christmases ago, the lads in Tipp said there was a fella looking for a drive to Limerick so I went it and he had this big bag with him. I asked him what he had in the bag and he said, ‘Toys’. When we got to Limerick, we stopped at a housing estate and he took the bag in with him and after he came out we went to another housing estate and the same thing happened. Then he gave me the name of a street and when I drove into it I could see that it was a dead end. ‘Stop here,’ he said, and he got out. I saw him slip in between two houses and I knew then that I’d never get paid. But I reversed out of the place as quick as I could because it was the wrong place to be late at night. He was shot last year, the lads told me. He was a gangster.”
Far away, in midtown Manhattan, the landscape is different and so is the scale of the sums involved, but the experience of the taxi-driver remains the same. Today’s Wall Street Journal: “Morgan Stanley Tries to ‘Claw Back’ Millions After Violent Taxi-Fare Dispute“.Tweet