The following, sadly, down to the last full stop, is all true...
Dec 31. 1989. Midday.
Phones ringing. Chatter of a dozen voices. Rows of large heavy clunky grey filing cabinets are constantly being opened and slammed shut. In the warehouse below forklifts are whining and crashing cages full of mail and stationary going to blue chip clients. This is the constant soundtrack to the background of my day.
One of my management team meekly knocks on the door and slides into my office. Silence. I never acknowledge him. He has a polite cough and whispers, "We cant get this load picked up before the cut off trunking deadline." There is more silence. ‘Get Eddie to do it’ I mutter quietly. Back to silence.
I am then aware that my assistant isn’t there, he must have slid out during an inhale of the warm freshly carpeted smelling air I was breathing in the ten by twelve foot office I spend most my time in. Making Financial forecasts and projections are a difficult but important role I play now. Hate it. Hate my office. I did my best work out there in the main office with my team. Segregated by status. The boss has to have his own office right?
The meek one knocks on my door again. I breath in slow and breath out fast. ‘Yes’ the end of my ‘yes’ lasts two to three seconds longer. A sarcastic yes. ‘Eddie won’t do it.’ Silence. I flick my Mont Blanc pen and it rolls heavily across my big desk and it breaks the uncomfortable silence that’s always created when said meek assistant is around me. I know he hates me and I really don't care.
'Tell. Eddie. I. Said. Do. It!' Through my gritted teeth and pursed lips it rasps out into the uncomfortable silence. I won’t be interrupted. Ever.
Fuck it. The time management courses the directors send me on, taught me to keep a clean tidy desk top, so I sweep everything into an already burdened drawer. Done. That’s enough for this year. 1990 is twelve hours away. Time to wind down.
'Already the wound needed 18 stitches and clamps. Already I am falling into unconsciousness. Already I am heavily concussed'
My thoughts turn to Eddie, We started together as drivers, I moved on and up at lightning speed to end up running one of the biggest, influential and most profitable arms of the company. Eddie had access to me. Many had to go through their line managers whom had to memo me to even get to my door. Eddie was proud that he could bypass and walk in on me whenever he liked. Salt of the earth. Tough. Hard. Honest.
Eddie got paid very well for an average days work, I figured he could do more, but for doing more, I’ll have to pay him more. I sit myself at the typewriter in the main arena of operations, it gives me the opportunity to improve my pathetic one finger typing, we have new computers that correct your typing, but I don’t know how to even turn them on yet. I create, quickly a new contract for Eddie, it ties him in for more of his time, but better off by more than £100 per week, £600 for a 45 hour week is not bad these days, not bad at all.
I don’t remember pulling the newly typed and carbon copied contract out of the typewriter because a heavy 2lb glass pub ashtray was already embedded into my head. Already the wound needed 18 stitches and clamps. Already I am falling into unconsciousness. Already I am heavily concussed
I was told what happened next was a barbaric assault on my body. My unconscious head was kicked and stamped on by a father and his supportive son. My ribs were crushed and pounded with four heavy boots. My staff stood and watched. Their guilt MUST be gnawing at them to this very day, do you think? Maybe they thought this untouchable golden boy clever bastard deserved it.
Whilst the office was being trashed with a spittled screaming tirade and new Amstrad word processors flying through the air. I awaken. I’m still in my chair but laying on my back. I get up and I am more interested in why my back is so wet. I move through the flying computers and chairs and the seven other people that were in the room, no one notices me, ghostlike, I return to my office. I sit on my high back comfy chair. A dream state, not sure why I am so wet. Feel cold. I’m holding a scrap of paper, I open it. it’s a contract and its wet and hard to read.
'Mr Meek threw Eddies kill switch. How he must have smirked and enjoyed watching my forced blood letting.'
My office door slams open. Its his son. I now realise something bad has just happened and it happened to me. They have just trashed my offices. ‘If you say anything I will find you and kill you’ the son spits this at me, his eyes wide and wild. I can just hear him, the noise in my head is too loud. I just stare at him, I’m behind my desk where I’m the boss and I cant see, why am I so wet? I wipe my eyes. Blood. Blood everywhere. My tidied desk is patterned in blood. My hands are soaking. Blood. Blood everywhere.
I hand the son the contract, stand up and walk back towards the main office. His son is reading his father Eddies new contract. The one that would have made Eddie smile and give me the friendly squeeze the way he always did.
I take you back to the conversation with my Meek assistant when I told him to “Get Eddie to do it” By the time he left my office and got to his untidy desk, this meek weak individual was boiling with rage at my authority over him, his life, his status. My words were reinvented by the time it reached Eddies ear to “ THE GUVNOR SAID FUCKING DO IT OR ELSE YOU CAN FUCK OFF.” Eddie obviously didn’t do the job. Mr Meek threw Eddies kill switch. How he must have smirked and enjoyed my forced blood letting.
Eddie walks past me in the corridor, his eyes fixed on the floor signalled his son its time to go. As I enter the main office the staff are picking up desks and putting phones back on them, they start to ring almost straight away, they are answered, filing cabinets are opened for the required information and slammed shut. No one looks at me. I go back to my office and phone the police and my own ambulance. My last task was to phone my equal north of London and transfer my authority to him. He is on his way.
'Nobody gave me a chance growing up. I fought hard for every morsel of food that was ever put in my mouth, at thirteen I was homeless and I fought for food out of a bin. I earned everything.'
I can’t remember getting to guys hospital, can’t remember being sewn together whilst the police look on waiting to interview me in my heavily concussed and broken state. Its not the first time in my life I’ve found myself in hospital after a traumatic experience, the last time I was thirteen, fifty plus stitches that time plus clamps I seem to remember.
I DO remember my trust in my staff gone upon my return. I remember being in the crown court and a barrister tearing my reputation apart as a maniacal terrorising employer. I remember Eddie and son getting a two year suspended sentence and a £100 fine. I remember that “The full weight of the company will be brought to bear to secure a conviction” never happening. I remember none of my family being there. I remember my partner being too busy to attend. We both had just bought a dockland house together.
I pushed people. I pushed people too hard. In my mind I wanted the best out of them. I often saw potential. I got the best out of those that could and dropped those that couldn’t. I never had those choices. Nobody gave me a chance growing up. I fought hard for every morsel of food that was ever put in my mouth, at thirteen I was homeless and I fought for food out of a bin. I earned everything.
I wanted to give people a chance, the price was hard work, my loyalty and respect. My hand pushing them forward-or out into the street.
At the time, when you met someone like me, you met a pushy, cocky and opinionated individual, not someone you really would want to keep as a friend, someone that was a topic of conversation when I wasn’t around to hear it.
Six months from now the first of my sisters will die, I will lose my house, my partner will move in with a driving instructor and within this year ultimately I will lose my job.
Only after all these events play out, will I see myself for the first time. I will be sickened at what kind of soulless person I’ve become.
I am a Taxi Driver. In my job people only get me for a few minutes, not long enough for them to get to know me. Its for the best. I slam dunked my aspirations and ambitions into a metaphorical bin many years ago.
I try to help people. I give advice. I talk a lot on Twitter, you may even know me from there. I “Tweet” about the souls that I meet, the good, the bad, the poignant. You will read about a taxi driver that cares. I DO care. I care a lot.
What small part of my soul that was left was murdered on Dec 31st 1989 the body survived. Oh, I'll never do harm to anybody's self worth or put someone down and make them feel bad about themselves. Ever. Again.
Maybe its best you keep away from me. Just in case. It is still within me to look into your soul and find out who you really are. I can make you question your life, stop you in your life’s tracks. Maybe that's why I've been beaten and punched so many times in my job as a taxi driver. Maybe. I see you. ALL of you...
My soul still sits in that room, cold and wet with my blood swimming over my tidy desk top.
I never left there.
I cant get out.
Thanks for reading.