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kuchikomi

Driving a cab during the pandemic makes for some discomforting rides

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"Around 11 p.m., a woman who appeared to be in her late 30s got in with a younger guy, maybe in his late 20s. From the way they talked to each other, I got the impression the woman was the man's boss at work."

A Hiroshima cabbie identified only as N, age 42, continues relating his story to Shukan Taishu (July 5).

"She said to him, 'I'm thirsty. What do you say we go to your apartment for a drink?' It was pretty obvious she was coming on to him. But his reply caught me off guard: He said, 'No, my place is dirty,' and got out the next time I stopped.

"Afterwards she pouted to me, 'You know, young guys these days are really slobs. I'm a good- looking woman, but he's obviously one of those herbivore males.'"

These are hard times for taxi drivers. A spokesperson for the national federation of hire and taxi services said that compared to before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, earnings in some areas have fallen by more than a third. And in Kyoto, with its high dependence on tourism, revenues were down to only 14% of what they were previously. Taxi firms have been reducing staff and in worst cases, even cutting the size of their fleets. And needless to say, drivers have taken commensurate hits to their income.

Being able to relate wacky happenings while at work to a magazine reporter seems to be a good way for them to relieve their stress.

A driver in Tokyo recalls picking up a couple who appeared to be in their early 20s. "Speaking in a pronounced Tohoku accent, he said to me, 'Take us to a love hotel -- anyplace is okay!' It seems the couple was involved in a long-distance romance. The woman was a nurse who was temporarily assigned to work in Tokyo."

The two were hard pressed for time because the man had to head for home before the last shinkansen trains stopped running.

"It seems all the hotels in Shinjuku they had tried had no vacancies, so they flagged down my cab. I took them to a classy place near Yotsuya."

A middle-aged driver in Nagoya says he'll never forget carrying one passenger who told him he operated a restaurant. He was on his way back from a meal delivery to a customer's home.

"He told me he'd just collected the plates and bowls from the customer and was on the way back to the restaurant.

"The reason he was using taxis was that his business had been so bad due to the coronavirus pandemic he'd been forced to sell his car," the driver relates. "Then he started sobbing -- it was really  pathetic."

The driver felt so sorry for the man he began patronizing his restaurant during breaks, and eventually became something of a regular customer.

One driver overheard his passenger, a rough-looking character wearing sunglasses, using strong-arm collection tactics on the phone.

"'That excuse won't work,' you've got to come up with the money, or else!'" I heard him growl.

"I felt a real sense of relief when he disembarked. 'Unchan (driver), you can keep the change,' he said to me. In a sense I guess I felt lucky he didn't give me a hard time, but the change was only 170 yen. All things considered, I couldn’t complain," he chuckled.

Another driver in Yokohama was carrying two nurses, who gave him an earful about their work travails during the pandemic.

"There was one in her 20s and one in her 40s," he relates. "They had recently been vaccinated for COVID. Rubbing her shoulder the younger one whined, 'It hurts,' and the older one said, 'It's a side effect from the jab, you'll get over it.' Soon, the younger one began blubbering, saying, 'How did I let myself get into this mess, where I'm never able to take any time off?'"

Another story concerns passengers who harbor a fear of becoming infected that borders on phobia.

"When I return the change, they'll say, 'Please put it on the tray,'" the driver tells Shukan Taishu. "I've also had customers who phoned the office to complain that my nose was protruding from the top of my mask.

"Some customers, as soon as they board, will  pull out an atomizer and start disinfecting the interior of the car," he added. "Or, they'll warn me by saying, 'Don't even say a word.' They're not very sensitive to my feelings."

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
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Just what is the point of this story? Most of these tales did not have anything 'discomforting' toward the driver, and, pandemic aside, most are likely to happen on any given day.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Agreed @mocheake 12:12pm. Re-read . . .

*- “Just what is the point of this story? Most have nothing 'discomforting' for the driver, and most are likely to happen on any given day.” -*

. . . the 1st 4 paragraphs and found No content relative to the story or headline. Most of it are just sordid tales like “Taxicab Confessions”:

- “She said, 'I'm thirsty, we go to your apartment for a drink?' He said, 'No, my place is dirty,' and got out next time I stopped. She pouted,'You know, young guys these days are really slobs. I'm a good- looking woman,”

- “A driver in Tokyo recalls a couple in their 20s, Speaking in Tohoku accent 'Take us to a love hotel -- anyplace is okay!'…seems the couple was involved in a long-distance romance

One of the only connections to the headline could be:

“she was a nurse who was temporarily assigned to work in Tokyo."*

>

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

There are plenty of areas in which Japan could teach my home country of England some things, but taxi drivers ain’t one of them.

Last time I went to Kyoto, we gave the taxi driver the name of our hotel and he pulled a face which said “never heard of it”. We have him the address via the navigation system on my phone and he still has trouble finding it.

Im guessing that whatever the requirements are for getting a cab license on Japan, they’re not a patch on “the Knowledge”.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Im guessing that whatever the requirements are for getting a cab license on Japan, they’re not a patch on “the Knowledge”.

I don't know why you had the experience you did, but it takes a significant knowledge of the roads to get a cab license in Japan.

New hires are put through training that typically lasts three or four months. The first step is to study for the Tokyo Association of Driving Geography Examination, which all taxi drivers must pass before they are allowed to work in the city. Preparation for the test involves learning the names and locations of around 80 Tokyo roads, as well as intersections and major landmarks.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/06/national/almost-year-behind-wheel-tokyos-foreign-cab-drivers-reflect-navigating-new-way-life/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Strangerland,

I can only go by personal experience. I have had several taxi drivers literally ask me the way to my destination, even though knowing that is the literal description of their job.

I find it inconceivable that a London cabbie would even consider asking such a thing.

Oh, and “three to four months?” The average time taken to pass the exam for a London license is, according to Wikipedia, 34 months. That’s almost three years.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I can only go by personal experience. I have had several taxi drivers literally ask me the way to my destination, even though knowing that is the literal description of their job.

I asked a cabbie here about that one time - it's because many customers get angry if they take a route different than the one the customer expects. Even though they often know the better routes.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I asked a cabbie here about that one time - it's because many customers get angry if they take a route different than the one the customer expects. Even though they often know the better routes.

I call BS (not on you asking a cabbie, but about his response). Imagine the same thing happening at the dentist.

“So, I’m going to extract a tooth. First I will give you a local anesthetic just here, and your jaw will go numb”.

”Hey! That’s not what my previous dentist did! I demand certainty and routine!”

”Um. I’m a dentist, this is what I do. I did study several years for this, y’know”.

”Don’t care! I’m the patient and I demand you do it this way!”

2 ( +5 / -3 )

So basically Taxicab Confessions. Yes, we've seen them on HBO. Some were amusing, some were bleh. I'm actually surprised it's not a show in Japan. Or that they don't try to claim it, their invention like a Terrace House or something.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Afterwards she pouted to me, 'You know, young guys these days are really slobs. I'm a good- looking woman, but he's obviously one of those herbivore males.'"

And the driver winked, pulled over and got in the back seat and away they went!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Taxi Drivers: Sometimes heroes, sometimes villains? A fantasy maybe @Reckless 9:12pm? But, NOT a reality:

“And the driver winked, pulled over and got in the back seat and away they went!”-

The most recent case that fits your general depiction was: “Tokyo taxi driver accused of molesting drunk woman” Nov 11, 2020 according to FNN.

“Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested a male taxi driver over the alleged molestation of an intoxicated woman. In July, he allegedly fondled the chest and lower body of a woman, aged in her 30s, inside his cab while it was parked at a park in Shibuya Ward. According to police, the woman had been out drinking. Prior to the incident, the suspect saw the woman sleeping on a bus bench in Shinjuku Ward. “I’ll give you a ride,” he reportedly said in calling out to the woman. Police used footage from the dashboard camera of the taxi to arrest Uchiyama on suspicion of indecent assault. “Since she was my type, I thought I’d give her a ride off the meter,” he said in admitting to the allegations.” -

Conveying these similar stories are no different than those snippets highlighted in the article above. (The infamous Kyoto MK “Heart” Taxi ‘she said/he said’ taxi-to-love hotel case comes to mind, but that was 2018 before the pandemic.)

Not to worry: a recent ‘hero’s story’ will follow:

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And now, time for a pandemic taxi driver’s “Hero”(?) story:

Man arrested on suspicion of assaulting singer Tomomi Kahara” - Apr. 17’ 2021 12:23pm:

“Tokyo Police arrested a 32-year-old man on suspicion of assaulting singer Tomomi Kahara by forcibly pulling her by the arm and shoving her shoulder while in a taxi. According to police, the incident occurred at around 10:30 a.m. Friday in Shinagawa Ward, Fuji TV reported. Police said Kahara, 46, was in a taxi when the driver told her that another taxi had been following them for about 30 minutes. The driver asked Kahara if she was in any trouble. Kahara asked the taxi to stop and the other taxi also stopped. She went back and opened the door and got into the taxi and started arguing with the man inside who is a magazine reporter, police said. The argument ended with the man grabbing Kahara’s arm and shoving her out of the taxi. Kahara then called 110.  Police said Kahara and the man do not know each other. They said the suspect has denied that he roughed up the singer who was not injured.” -

Her driver was aware of her ‘tail’ and alerted her to it. She left her taxi, got in her assailant’s cab and apparently confronted him. Having been ‘made’, he wasn’t happy about it and tried to force her out. ( (He either had photos of her and/or was aware of where she was coming from and wanted to see where she was going next.) Hoped they would  get him on stalking as well as the physical assault but there was no follow up or resolution reported to her case.

Regardless, there was still much to speculate about with this taxicab/celebrity story but it was never resolved, followed up nor again reported *here**. - Yes, much like the article above, these are **perhaps not the “valiant acts” and tribulations some were anticipating ***from the headline.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Delivering meals by taxi is not going to turn a profit for the poor guy in the story.

I recall getting into a taxi at Shin-Osaka station and asking to go to the NMB Store in Namba. The taxi driver hadn't heard of it. A little surprised at this. A few minutes with Google Maps on my Smartphone and his well worn road atlas and he knows where to take me. Warp drive engaged. We all but flew, shooting past annoyed looking traffic cops. Nice guy. Would have done well in Formula 1.

Trip back was a Japanese horror movie. Driver nudging 100yo with a glazed expression. Weaved all over the road at variable speeds. Much hooting from other drivers who wanted to live. He spent 20 minutes of the journey searching the passenger-side glove compartment whilst driving, occasionally checking the road. Hoped he wasn't looking for alcohol. Thought I was going to miss my shinkansen and perhaps the rest of my life. We made it. He stiffed me on the change. Didn't care. Could have hugged the concrete pillars of the station, the station staff and any random person.

You don't need a pandemic to have an interesting time in a Japanese taxi.

Had an excellent drive to Narita courtesy of a female taxi driver. Not sure what the gender mix is for taxi drivers in Japan, but most seem to be male.

The drivers are inevitably at increased risk from Covid and many are in higher risk age categories. It's not the easiest job in the world, and like many of us, their income has taken a hammering. Be nice to them.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Mocheake, I disagree. These types of stories, snippets of life of the average Taro, I love.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@GBR48, the cabbies who kept plugging during the pandemic are to be lauded and praised for their essential services. They deserve the change and any tips you can offer them (even if they sometimes go through the motions of trying to refuse a gratuity.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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