Dear Taxi Driver,
I love taking taxis in Edinburgh. I don’t do it often but when I do it’s for some kind of occasion – an early morning trip to the airport, returning home after time away, moving flats, or maybe when some friends are in town. Each time I am in the backseat of your taxi, I really enjoy our conversations.
We’ve talked about your favourite cities in America, past relationships, how my family must miss me, how your husband was in the hospital with cancer, and your time in the military overseas. We talk about your kids and how your son is a great footballer. You gave me an extra hand when I used your taxi to move boxes to my new flat and you were sympathetic when my sick cat was wailing in the backseat. There was the time I needed to go to the emergency room and you waited to make sure I could get an appointment. Thanks for that. I know you work long and sometimes strange hours – often during the holidays when you would rather be with your family. I know you have heard lots of stories and probably have seen the worst of human nature right in your backseat. But for me, the conversations in a taxi reflect what I love most about Scotland – the disarming banter and genuine curiosity in a stranger.
Taxi Driver, it’s different on a bike. I don’t understand why.
While I am a vigilant cyclist, I feel vulnerable to you and it’s not necessarily because you are bigger than me with much more protection. Sure, I’ve made some poor decisions on the road but we all do that at some point – in cars, on bikes, on our own two feet, in life in general. But I don’t deserve the abuse. I don’t deserve the rolling-down-the-window-kind of abuse.
Taxi Driver, I just want you to know that I’m the same woman on the bike that I am in your backseat. The care you give to me when asking if my family misses me is the same care I need on the streets. On my bike, I’m still the same woman who sometimes mixes a Fargo and Scottish accent, looks forward to cold winters, never has cash, and wishes you safe travels every time I leave your taxi. I’m trying to get home like you. While I chose to cycle because it suits me best, oftentimes I would prefer the comfort of your backseat and conversation over my windy, isolated, and wet uphill climb.
I know the streets in this city can be a jungle and folks often forget their compassion whatever their mode of transport. But while cycling, I do try to remember how kind you are to me when in your care. I keep that mind. Please look out for me on my bike as you would if I was in your backseat.
Safe travels out there x Jo