For my first month in Galway I lived a good bit from Kai so I took a taxi home after work. The drive was only about 8-10 minutes, but you could get into some interesting conversations in those short late-night rides. Every night, when I got home, I jotted down these chats in my journal. Here are a few memorable conversations and observations:
Driver: Do you ever eat something and immediately after think, why the f*** did I eat that?”
Me: Oh yes, all the time. What was it this time?
Driver: Those little apple pies you get at the store. I ate three of them. Why did I eat three of those f****** apple pies? *continues to grumble to himself about over eating
Driver had a really nice car and he eats at Kai for dinner frequently. Taxi driving can pay well…?
Chatty old man, asked about the wildfires in California, then as I was about to get out asked, “So what about Donald Trump? Is he doing a good job out there? Would Hillary have been better? I liked Bill. Bill was a good guy.” ……….
Older man born and raised in Galway. Asked if I am a chef in “real life” or just for work. Then asked what type of restaurant I’d open: “Low, middle, or high” (price point). I then asked him how he’s seen Galway change since he was young. “20 years ago, you’d never see colored men in town – or Polish people. They weren’t working here then.”
Driver was from Nairobi, Kenya. Lived in Ireland for 10 years and likes it but wants to go back eventually. He loves Kenya and raved about how beautiful it is. He told me to go to Kenya and remember him. The ride was 11.40 euros. I gave him a 10 and a 5. He gave me the 5 back and said, “It’s for Kenya.”
Driver: Is that an American accent I hear?
He lived in Boston, NYC, Connecticut, and other parts of New England for 10 years.
Picked me up in a massive 8 person van.
Quiet older man with a thick Irish accent. He talked about how it’s important that the people you work with are positive people, to surround yourself with positive people.
Young driver from Pakistan. He moved here 6 years ago and luckily knew a friend he moved in with, because housing is a nightmare in Galway. Talked about how it’s near impossible to find affordable, decent housing now in the city because of AirBnB and more people.
Driver ad to drive to Castlemartyr (50 miles from Galway) the next morning at 9am for a hospital appointment. I missed what his ailment was, but I felt horrible for him. It was currently 11:50pm.
Me: Did you ever think you’d be driving for 25 years?
Driver: Oh no, I didn’t have a choice. When I started, there was a system where you needed to purchase a taxi plate to drive. The one I bought was 70,000 euros. It was an investment, like real estate. You’d eventually be able to sell it for more. But after the first year, the taxi plate system ended and I was stuck with this massive debt that I needed to pay off…I’ve grown to like it – the people, the hours.
Driver: The other day I drove to Dublin (2.5 hours away) because some lady had left her cell phone somewhere and she had to have it. She wasn’t even in the car. I picked it up and then drove to Limerick to give it to her.
Driver had been to San Diego, didn’t really like Los AngelesL
Repeat driver! Surprised it only happened once. John recommended a restaurant called Chef’s Cafe in a small town outside Galway that was recently opened by a Lithuanian chef and has made this small town a place people want to go to just to eat at his café. I actually went there with some friends after a hurling (Irish sport) match. It was delicious! I wanted to call Galway Taxi Company to tell them to thank John Donoghue for his recommendation.
And finally, the very last taxi I took was the most surprising conversation of all – no conversation. Complete silence the whole way. How ironic.
These were all interesting conversations on their own, but I think the most interesting part of all was seeing what different backgrounds each of the drivers came from and how they ended up being a taxi driver in Galway, Ireland. Some were born and raised Irish, while others immigrated looking for a new life. Some happily chose driving because they were bored of retirement, while others had no choice. Some liked the extreme hours, while others couldn’t stand being away from their families.
Living outside the city center wasn’t the most convenient situation, but having the opportunity to hear dozens of different stories and interact with a friendly person at the end of every night when I was dead tired from a long shift, was a pleasant surprise that showed me a different side of the city.