Recently my job did quite well. (In 2010 I was working in London as a taxi-bike driver, my third summer spent in this city). Wednesday was also good, compared to the fact that it was a Wednesday. The best days are usually Fridays and Saturdays, when the city is full of people. On Friday they go to the bars directly from work, as most of them live far from the city centre. Around five or six you can already see some of them standing in front of the pubs, with glasses rested on the slopes and lamps. At the same time the theatres kick off. People like to get driven to the show by taxi bikes and tourists also hit the street, curious about the bikes. Weekend is always busy and a traffic jam at Piccadilly Circus at 1 am is quite common. During the week there is less people but it can also be a good time for making money, because many taxi bikers are weekend warriors and during the week do other jobs or study.
This Wednesday I earned enough. Around midnight I met two girls or women in Soho. Actually, it was in Chinatown. They stopped at my bike and asked for a ride. Ride on the bike. We had a ride, I took them just around the corner, like they wanted, and they paid 5 pounds. They just wanted to try the bike or they were attracted by the charisma of the rider. Or, they liked my calves, which were complimented several times by the customers. The fans of bodybuilding know that calves depend largely on genetics, although biking 10 to 12 hours daily can help to shape them too.
I knew bikers with good calves and also riders who sought out opportunities to get to know girls from the central Europe (It also includes my country but I do not know whether to take it as a compliment), park the bike at a remote place and have a talk. Very big risk, as the taxi bikes were the pin in the eye of the police. On the other hand, adrenaline like hell…Girls, girls, girls is a song from a glam-metal band Motley Crue and it the content of the lyrics is obvious. I read the biography of the bands front man. It isn´t a book you would take as an inspiration.
The following Monday was a poor day for me. During the whole night I collected just 12 pounds. As if the people developed immunity to my bike. I even tried two theatres and nothing. The street in front of the Piccadilly theatre with the Grease musical is usually full of bicycles around quarter past nine. The riders are fighting for the best place. If you park right in the middle, at the front door, you can be 100 percent sure to get a good customer from a higher social class, who asks for a ride to a fancy hotel, such as Westbury in Mayfair, and although agreed on 15, the gentleman gives you 20 pounds with the goodbye words “keep the change.” I arrived at nine twenty and there was no one around. Hadn´t they finished earlier? Do they at all play on Monday? I decided to wait, taking the best spot at the front door. I was waiting for about ten minutes, when a big police car with a siren passed by and I had to leave. I was thinking of coming back but decide not to. The big police car sometimes appeared and forced out all the bikes. In such situation the winner was the most courageous one, who dared to comeback.
There were many unwritten laws and you could get arrested for parking your bike at the wrong place. Usually the police just asked you to leave but with unwritten laws you can never be sure.
The Lion King theatre Lyceum ended at twenty past ten. I was always curious about the Can You Feel the Love Tonight song by Elton John performed during the life performance. I saw the Lion King movie as a child in my little town. Now I circled around the Covent Garden and drove to the theatre. Ten o clock and not a single bike in the vicinity. At least the people will choose mine. Twenty minutes later a taxi biker passed by. I asked him whether there was the show that night. Not on Monday, was the answer. It explained the empty street. Later I spoke with another friend-biker. He told me that he arrived to the Grease theatre at nine thirty-five and there were no bikes. He took the best spot in front of the door and “caught” a couple to Westbury hotel for 20 pounds…
That night I was just driving around Soho and the Oxford Street. I did not get anything apart from an offer from two guys who promised me 20 pounds if I drive them to Holborn and pull down my shorts. I declined. I would prefer the girls from the beginning of the story, if it was a life or death choice… Around midnight I met another pair of girls with a question about Walkabout. I offered a ride (bike) for five pounds. They did not actually know where they wanted to go. Around one I called it a day.
Actually, I met a plenty of girls while working as a taxi bike rider. American girls like we know from the teenage movies, who were looking for the Abercrombie shop during the daylight. Their night wishes cannot be published. Once I met two girls from California. They were sober and quite intelligent. They invited me to the church for the following day. I did not take their contact, which is one of the very few things in my life that I regret. One of them was called Jennifer completely different from the German girls I wrote about here.
One I met two Polish girls, who were pulling a Chinese girl down the street. She drank the same amount of alcohol as they. They did not know that the Asians do not have the alcohol breaking enzyme… I took the poor Chinese girl to the nearest bus stop and seated her to on the bench. Several people took over the care. I rather disappeared as a couple of policemen approached.
In London I got several marriage proposals and one girl invited me to Paris. I asked her about the destination, as usual.
“Paris,” she answered.
“Paris Cafe,” I asked, which was a bar somewhere around Haymarket.
“NO, Paris France,” she specified.
I did not carry on in conversation. She was apparently drunk I do not think the trip would work out well.
By meeting different customers you learn lot about the world and an experience with working on the street is also very useful. You build up self-confidence and a little bit of cheekiness. You have to approach strange people and convince them to have a ride. I had never been good at this type of bargaining but in London I learnt a lot. I also improved in arguments with the taxi drivers. However, I preferred talking with foreigners about their countries or discussing politics with the local gentlemen. Their wives or partners always contributed to the discussion with something fruitful and sometimes I got a gift in form of an energy drink or extra tip.