Breaking news: Townsville cab driver Mike Caldwell 68, drove a naked man 1500km to Tennant Creek and let his passenger do all the talking?

I'm walkin' from here!

Hang on a second, does that surprise anyone else? No - not the naked part - the passenger talking bit. Every cab I have ever caught the cabbie has talked my ear off. It’s incredible how much information a person can pack into fifteen minutes while driving on Sydney roads. Double that when there’s traffic, of course.

That’s not a criticism by the way.If you’re going to be stuck in a small vehicle with a stranger, why not be entertained? And cabbies have some of the best stories, especially the ones about how they ended up behind the wheel.

All that has set us off in search of some wacky cab stories, and you can check them out below. But what about you, can any of your experiences rival these?

A tale of holiday survival, from our own Tory Shepherd:
We left early one morning to get from Bali across to Lombok and over to the Gili Islands. We just jumped in the first cab that came along; it looked blue-ish, and the blue ones are meant to be the best. Friendly guy. High as a kite. Doof doof. Made it clear straight away I would have to hold the door closed myself. With no seatbelt on. Ah well, part of the adventure, right? On Indonesian roads you need to make a lot of noise, make yourself seen, so horns are used more often than brakes. Driver was cruising through plenty of traffic, beeping people out of the way. Then we realised not only did his doors not close, his horn didn’t work. For our benefit alone he was saying ‘beep, beep’, everytime he swerved around another vehicle. Beep beep. He almost had us fooled. Then his masterful use of the gears made it clear the brakes didn’t work either, at which point we opted to get out and hail another car.

Late for the wedding in New York City
If it were not for one taxi driver a few months ago I would not be married. You see, my wedding was scheduled for high noon, and the limo service we had hand picked for reliability was not coming through. While waiting at the church, I got word that my bride to be was stranded because the limo was a no show. However, within a few minutes a taxi pulled up and out came the smiling, beautiful bride to be. In her eyes no limo compared. As I found out later, the cabbie saw her on the curb, stopped and asked if he could help. Excited that he was heading to a wedding, he quickly threw on a tie (why he had one in the cab is mystery), and sped off to the church. He could not have been more helpful and excited. In fact the pictures taken of my wife exiting the taxi, with him helping her to the curb, are the highlights off our wedding photos.

And a surprise delivery in a London cab…
I didn’t deliver the baby. The girl did it nearly all by herself in the back seat. I picked her up off the Moss estate to take her to the hospital. She was doing the moaning of a woman in labour, but her boyfriend kept saying, “You’ve got an hour, you’re all right.” I said, “You haven’t, she’s having a baby.”  So I parked round the back of the doctors’ surgery in town, and we got the doctors to come out - we had a big audience by now - but by the time they came out, she’d had it. I remember saying, “I didn’t think it would come that quick.” She was taken to hospital with her boyfriend, and the doctors went back inside, and I was left with the mess to clean up. Luckily most of it happened on a towel. It could have been much worse. I was chuffed afterwards. I got myself on telly - on the morning news, and at dinnertime on ITV and BBC. It was an experience, without a doubt. You see it on television in America and you think, will it happen to you? And it happened.

Comments close on this post at 8pm AEST

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38 comments

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    • hammy says:

      09:59am | 12/12/12

      I think it’s disgusting the taxi driver taking advantage of a man who he admits was mentally disabled , but this is Australia and we celebrate these kind of things these days.

    • Joel M-J says:

      11:07am | 12/12/12

      I actually agree with you. The first thing that jumped into my mind when I heard he is mentally disabled was “where’d he get that kind of money, and can he afford to keep throwing it around like that.”

    • Al says:

      11:40am | 12/12/12

      You do realise that if he refused to provide him the service on the basis of him being disabled he would have been left open to a claim of discrimination?
      The question would then be, if a non-disabled person asked him to do the same trip, would he have done so. If the answer is yes then he could find himself in a lot of trouble. (including being fired, having to pay compensation etc).

    • hammy says:

      12:27pm | 12/12/12

      It wouldn’t be refusal on the basis of being disabled.  It would be saving him $4,500 in cash on a plane flight instead of ripping him off.  No authority would prosecute a refusal of service.

    • Kika says:

      12:47pm | 12/12/12

      Me too. I thought that was in pretty poor taste.

    • Simone says:

      01:38pm | 12/12/12

      Well, he didnt take all the money, just to cover the fare and there arent any flights, so how else was he meant to get home?

    • Helen Davidson says:

      01:57pm | 12/12/12

      For those who are saying the taxi driver should have refused the fare and told hime to catch a plane, there are no flights to Tennant Creek at the moment as Fly Tiwi has been grounded by CASA. The taxi was probably this bloke’s only option.

    • Al says:

      02:00pm | 12/12/12

      hammy - did you read the part of my comment re: “The question would then be, if a non-disabled person asked him to do the same trip, would he have done so.”
      Regardless of what the service is you are not permitted to discriminate against somone with a disability.
      How do they know the driver was ‘taking advantage of him’, it could be that it was planned out in advance and this is the very reason he had the money for the fare to start with.
      It may sound like a good idea, but are you happy for every disabled person to be queried regarding where their money has come from and when spent can they still afford x, y or z no matter what service is being provided?
      Good luck with that.
      Also, since when has it been a taxi drivers respoinsibility to save their customer money? Otherwise there would be very few taxis in Sydney city as there is ample public transport (bus,train,ferry,light rail) or even walking distance. So every taxi is ripping of the people who choose to use them (disabled or not).

    • hammy says:

      03:12pm | 12/12/12

      Why yes Al, I read your post.  I wasn’t aware that upon reading it, one was required to surrender independent thought and agree entirely with your position.

      Let’s say that this fellow has Downs Syndrome and has a shopping bag with ten thousand cash in it.  Any honourable person would take him to an airport or a bus terminal and save his money, rather than take advantage of him.

      If he subsequently made a complaint, there isn’t a tribunal in the land that would find he was discriminated against on the basis that they wanted to advantage him in his present situation.

      This isn’t every disabled person.  This is an isolated case, but feel free to create a strawman argument to facilitate your position.

      One can tell what kind of a person you are when you advocate taking advantage of the infirm.

      I have read all you post (so that you know), but feel free to tell me what else you think I should think.

    • hammy says:

      10:01am | 12/12/12

      “he quickly through on a tie”...

    • WTF says:

      03:40pm | 12/12/12

      “he quickly threw on a tie “...

    • SimpleSimon says:

      10:17am | 12/12/12

      My friend vomited in her own shoe in the back of a taxi on a business trip. Then, after rinsing it out, had to put the shoe back on her foot. Preeeetty gross. Didn’t spill a drop though. #winning

    • sunny says:

      01:30pm | 12/12/12

      A good old shoe spew smile

    • stephen says:

      06:25pm | 12/12/12

      Your friend should have sat in the back seat and threw up on the driver instead ... which is a true story from a friend of mine who got out of paying the fare like this and was accused of being vegetarian.

      He told me that hurt ... really hurt.

    • Economist says:

      11:32am | 12/12/12

      Well I have a fear of taxi cabs. The only car accidents I’ve been involved in were both in cabs. My story is that I was in the back of a cab and effectively ended up in the front of the cab in a high speed accident that completely squashed the car.

    • Question says:

      11:57am | 12/12/12

      When in Japan I was out late taking a tour of Kyoto, and decided to catch a taxi back to my Ryokan. Tell you what, them Japanese cabbies dont eff around! When we got to my street I indicated to the driver that I could walk the 100 or so metres to the Ryokan entrance, as the place I was staying at was down a series of long, winding alleyways and I thought the guy would have a tough time driving the car around them (for some reason everything in Kyoto seems to be made of alleyways). Anyway, Cabbie-san was having none of that , and proceeded to drive me to my door. As he trundled the car down the first of the narrow alleys he made to turn left - SKREEEE KTHUNK - off came the wing mirror. “Jesus, do you want to stop?” I asked, only to be waved off as if nothing happened. Next, a right turn and another SKREEEE KTHUNK - off comes the other wing mirror. Again I indicate that this is far enough, and again Cabbie-san waves me off. This continues for a minute or two more, and by the time I get to my destination we’re missing large swathes of paintwork on both sides of the car. Amazingly, Cabbie-san gets out, drops off my bags, and when I try to give him a little extra to help him pay for his now FUBAR looking car he flat out REFUSES to accept it, wishes me a good night and drives off with a smile!

      Dayum Japan - you crazy!

    • Dayum! says:

      03:34pm | 12/12/12

      haha love it!

    • James1 says:

      12:01pm | 12/12/12

      My oddest taxi ride occurred in Brisbane.  I flew in on an early flight from Canberra, and needed to get to the city by 9am so I hopped in a taxi rather than taking the train.  The taxi driver had a noticeable mustache, and a slightly less noticeable goatee, and his/her hair was shortish, giving no indication of gender.  He/she was overweight, so I could not tell if the boobs were the real deal or manboobs, and he/she was wearing the standard button up shirt and slacks that all taxi drivers seem to wear. I could not tell if this driver was a man or a woman from looking at him/her, so I pegged my hopes on him/her talking at some point.

      Unfortunately, when he/she did talk, it was in a relatively high pitched, yet gruff, voice that gave no clear indication.  It could have been the voice of a female heavy smoker, or it could have been man with a slightly higher pitched voice.  It took everything inside me not to ask if she/he was male or female.

      Given that I was travelling for work and needed a receipt, I pegged my hopes on that revealing the first name of the driver.  When I exited and checked the receipt, the name was Kerry, which was very unhelpful.

    • Kika says:

      12:50pm | 12/12/12

      Hermaphrodite?

    • Philosopher says:

      01:26pm | 12/12/12

      you could have done a Mick Dundee. Apparently it’s not offensive if done by an Australian.

    • Borderer says:

      12:03pm | 12/12/12

      In a taxi in the right hand lane on the Tullamarine freeway heading into Melbourne. A car comes onto the motorway from an onramp and cuts accross four lanes of traffic and is about to hit our front left tire with their back end. Cabbie sees the approaching car with his peripheral vision, swerves on into the emergency lane, stops the car fishtailing when the back tyre hits loose garvel and rights the vehicle, pulls back onto the road. A collision would have most likely put us into the ditch at about 100kmph and he essentially saw this coming at him from what is supposed to be his blind spot. You sir saved both our asses that day….

    • Borderer says:

      12:09pm | 12/12/12

      In Perth, get picked up by a cab at my hotel, I’m heading to “The Old Swan Brewery” for dinner, I give the driver the address and after 10 minutes he pulls to the side of the road and them turns on his GPS, types in the restaurant name and then proceeds to the destination… He doesn’t know where the destination is, starts driving, gets utterly lost and then turns on the navigation device… I saw red and made him halve the fare, I wouldn’t of complained if he had to check a paper map.

    • hammy says:

      12:38pm | 12/12/12

      It was a late/night early morning in Singapore and I got in the taxi with my boss.  En route to our hotel the driver asked us where we were from and I told him Australia, he said he’s only ever had one other Australian (about six months ago)  in his taxi and he ran off without paying.  I asked him how much he lost and he said about $20.  About fifteen minutes later we arrived and I paid our fare and then gave him the extra $20 (to his obvious delight) and I told him he now had TWO stories to tell about Australian passengers.

    • Philosopher says:

      01:22pm | 12/12/12

      excellent work hammy. I guess I owe you twenty bucks now wink

    • hammy says:

      01:38pm | 12/12/12

      + interest !!!

    • Colin says:

      02:05pm | 12/12/12

      @ hammy

      Good on you, Bwana. Can’t have those little Asians getting out of place and telling all and sundry bad things about Australians, hey? I mean, we’ve got a reputation to protect. You showed them with your Moral Superiority. Well done grin

    • sami says:

      02:54pm | 12/12/12

      @Colin
      hammy just seems like your average nice person. Again it’s a difficult concept for you to wrap your brain around, but not everyone is an arsehole. But then again, what would I know? I’m just a bogan.

      Props to you hammy smile

    • Colin says:

      03:24pm | 12/12/12

      @ sami

      You just like him because your name rhymes with his.

    • Kika says:

      12:53pm | 12/12/12

      The only one I can think of is when trying to get home urgently one day to attend to a potential disaster I told the cabbie where I lived and off he went. When he started going in a weird direction I kindly asked him which way he was intending to go. He starts blasting me by saying “I know where I am going! I am a taxi driver! Don’t you think I know where I am going?”

      Um… ok. Yes. Fine. (thought to myself well a lot of you don’t!)

      And then he proceeded to be shtty with me for the rest of the ride. Geez man. Relax.

    • sunny says:

      01:24pm | 12/12/12

      In Brisbane at the end of a business trip, running extremely late for my plane and it’s peak hour traffic and pissing down. Told the cab driver impassively how much time we had to get to the airport across town and he just went to work - chucked a U turn straight away and went down to another bridge that I’d never seen before, then on the north side though a residential labyrinth of backstreets, gets back on the freeway and starts weaving in and out of lanes with incredible foresight. The bloke would have been the perfect getaway driver he was a genius at his craft. Made my flight in the nick of time (thanks also to the airline staff fast tracking me through the queue) Tipped the cabbie generously but it didn’t cover my gratitude or his skill. I don’t think I’ve ever met a bad cabbie.

    • Levi says:

      02:50pm | 12/12/12

      Sunny, was he a Hungarian guy?? I had virtually exactly the same experience in Brisbane one time in the same circumstances, although it wasn’t raining. This guys knowledge of the streets without once referencing his satnav and skill at ducking and weaving through traffic reached almost mythical proportions at times. Got to my flight just in time. It’s not a cultural norm in Australia to tip but geez I tipped him well.

    • sunny says:

      06:01pm | 12/12/12

      Levi - it was a few years back now so I don’t remember him exactly. Super Cabbie is probably how I remember the bloke now, although he wasn’t wearing a cape. But yeah those guys probably have to do the dash across town in peak hour to get a fare to the airport on time several times a week, so it’s probably par for the course to them.

    • Frank says:

      01:26pm | 12/12/12

      you got the story wrong….he was half-naked (he was wearing boxers and thongs) and the driver suspects that the reason he was talking so much was due to a mild mental disability…http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/ride-gives-cabbie-fare-of-his-life/story-fndo2iwh-1226534895481

    • sami says:

      03:25pm | 12/12/12

      Dad was a cabbie for a long while and man, he has some interesting stories! He spent a lot of time driving multipurpose cabs. He prided (that sounds wrong?) himself on being helpful and fair, and became mates with a lot of his disabled passengers as they became regulars.

      He laments the dumbing down of so many of today’s drivers. ‘Back in the day’ you had to know every street name, there was no GPS and consulting your map every time would just get ridiculous. He also takes issue with the peak hour taxis and the changes to the industry.

      Handy for me these days, if I really want to know the best way to get somewhere or how long it’ll take then I just consult him wink

    • Pete says:

      03:32pm | 12/12/12

      A trip from Sydney Airport to Sans Souci saw my African driver somehow get on the wrong side of Gen MacArthur Drive, and when I pointed out the cars coming towards us, he laughed and drove over a median strip. He then crazily ended up on the wrong side of another road, at which point I got out, nowhere near my destination. He toted up the fare, and I was too shocked to do anything but pay! The Melbourne experience is usually disastrous: Indian drivers talking on their phone endlessly about god knows what to whom in this sort of ‘bubada dubuda’ sound, or playing games on their phones. Not to mention the smells and the suspiciously indirect trips. They’re poorly paid because of the ripoffs in the industry, peanuts means monkeys are the result. When I hear some of the are doctors or engineers, I thank god we have an immigration system that makes you prove your qualifications before you get here. I avoid taxis at all costs in Melbourne now and get PT everywhere.

    • Philosopher says:

      04:24pm | 12/12/12

      the Indian drivers in Melbourne are the absolute pits. Have not had a single good experience with one, they barely know their way around their own cab, yet alone the city.

    • Student says:

      06:08pm | 12/12/12

      *looks at the picture then the caption*

      Wrong movie!

 

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