Monday, February 13, 2006

Dangerous Occupations

I was at the Manx last night. The first part of the evening was supper with a cousin who is in town on business. We talked a bit about our grandparents. They had hard lives. Our grandfather fished for cod from a dory off the Grand Banks for 23 years. This brought up the topic of how dangerous fishing was and how men still die regularly. My cousin said she'd just read a list of the top five most dangerous jobs and fishing was right up there with mining and surprisingly to her, driving taxi. "We've got a bad problem back home with taxi drivers getting attacked." I told her I didn't know whether we had a bad problem or not.

Most Fatal Jobs in the USA [source]

  1. Fishers
  2. Timber Cutters
  3. Airplane Pilots
  4. Structural Metal Workers
  5. Taxi Cab Drivers

Later in the evening all kinds of people showed up to see our friends Michelle April and Al Wood (Red Wood Central) perform their excellent blues. It was kind of like a house party at a pub. I had a sore throat, so I left a bit early, around 11pm. I thought about taking a taxi home, but it bugs me so much how the drivers always talk on their phones that I decided to walk and take the bus if it came.

I pulled my hood up over my toque and made it to the corner before deciding that walking home in -15C weather with a very sore throat wouldn't really be smart. So I walked back to the Manx and waved to the taxi driver parked there. Sprawled out talking on a handheld cellphone, he waved me into the back seat, and moved the phone to his left hand so he could start his motor.

He kept talking until I was in and had shut the door. "Lebreton and Louisa," I said. He shook his head in what I took to be a "no" gesture, so I said, "just head down Gladstone past Bronson."

"Yes, no problem," he said. I realized the head shake hadn't been a "no", but instead the head rolling gesture people from places like Sri Lanka use to show they understand and agree.

He went back to talking on his phone, but he managed to stop at the red lights at both Metcalfe and O'Connor without my assistance. Then he put the phone away and asked about my evening. I told him it was fine and asked about his evening. He said fine, but in a way that implied it could be better. "Things slow?" I asked.

"It's Sunday," he said.

I didn't really know where to go next with the conversation, so I said, "you know, I was talking to a friend tonight who said she saw a list of the most dangerous professions and she told me that in the top five they had mining, fishing, and taxi driving. Because of attacks on drivers."

"Yes, it's true," he said, "it is dangerous."

"I have been attacked three times... seven stitches..."

"Have there been lots of attacks in Ottawa?" I asked.

He did the head roll and traced a line on his cheek with his thumb. "I have been attacked three times." He told me about a time he had taken some guys to Kanata and then Stittsville where they refused to pay, then beat him up and he'd needed seven stitches for a cut on his face. I didn't get all the details straight. He'd not been at all happy with the police response. It seems they identified the attackers but didn't press charges.

Anyway, I paid a bit more than usual for a ride home from Elgin and I've decided to ease off on the drivers talking to their friends while they're driving us around.

Link: Canadian Taxi Driver Homicides

1 comment:

Fingers said...

I feel deja vu...