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Cabbie Biz Exposed - Peer Lindholt

"Sex, drugs, crime, corruption and intimidation. These are some of the things we cab drivers face and learn to accept as part of the job", according to Raymond Hoser, author, whistleblower and former taxi driver. The recent release of his two new books, TAXI 1 - INDECENT EXPOSURES and TAXI 2 are bound to rattle a few feathers, for better or for worse. If you drive a cab, don't let your wife/husband, girl/boyfriend or lover read these books. You'll never be allowed to drive a cab again.

Raymond Hoser is a writer who for many years drove a cab to make ends meet. After two decades in the taxi driving game (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Orlando, etc.), he has seen most of it. He observes: "A taxi and its driver isn't just a vehicle that takes passengers to their destination. It doubles as a confessional, brothel for hookers without a room, underground bunker for crims on the run, money till for cops, thieves and alike, mobile drug store and much, much more.", "Somewhere in between all this, the cabbie has to duck and weave through the traffic, find a fare, avoid the long arm or the law, passengers abuse, vomit, knives, propositions and so on .... And maintain his or her sanity! ... if it exists."

Hoser has authored several books on corruption. Five have been temporarily banned! The latest ban, by the Victorian Government, was of his two previous books Victoria Police Corruption 1 and 2, which were forced off the shelf in June this year. What ever happened to freedom of speech, expression and information in this country?

In the two new books, Taxi 1 and 2, Hoser takes on everybody who has a relationship with the taxi business, be it drivers or passengers, the taxi hierarchy, crooked operators, police or government officials. Some of his anecdotes are provocative, others are very, very funny and others still, are playing games with both the truth and reality. However, anybody who reads these books will nod their heads frequently, thinking: "Yea, that happened to me too." or "Holy smoke, this guy is a nut case!"

The books are generously illustrated with cartoons and photographs and are interspersed with text boxes containing some of the funniest jokes and quotes from both drivers and passengers I have ever read.

Hoser claims his aim is to clean up the cab industry and to achieve this he exposes the bad, the ugly and the corrupt. But, there is also plenty of material showing that by and large, the majority of taxi drivers are a good, honest and compassionate bunch of people. He illustrates with considerable passion, humour and honesty, what cabbies have to put up with to make a living while trying to maintain their sanity, concentration and sense of humour.

One chapter, headed RORTS, deals with, not only the rorts by drivers and passengers, but also those perpetrated by people in public positions. With the latter, Hoser gets really tenacious. Although he does it ‘tongue in cheek', you can feel his anger. One story is about a Federal MP, who leaves a function at Parliament House in Canberra so drunk he can't remember his home address. A $20 fare becomes a $56 fare by no fault of the driver. The taxpayers pay. Hoser, after lackluster and therefore futile attempts by the daily press, sets out to find the name of this politician, succeeds and exposes him in Taxi 1. Very appropriate stuff in light of the recent Peter Reith scandal.

Hoser has done a great job combining the absurd with the dangerous, the good with the bad, the sleazy with the beautiful and rarely does his sense of humour leave him. However, the books are dragged down a bit by his frequent autobiographical boasts about his sexual exploits as a cabbie. It also annoys me that he misuses the term "robbery". Crooked cabbies don't rob their passengers Raymond, they only cheat and steal from them. He also claims we, as a rule, "rob" each other of fares. We may nick one here or there subject to circumstances, but generally most cabbies work within both the written and unwritten codes of the industry. That is not to say that the examples he has provided are not factual, they may well be, it's just that from my experience they are the exceptions rather than the norm.

Even when he gets into the really nasty stuff such as sexual deviate cabbies and passengers, there is usually a humorous twist to the tale. The problem is; it's all a bit too much. Like never ending negative press reports, taxi story tellers at parties, winging letters to newspaper editors, the sheer volume of negativity in these books may negate the often funny even hilarious tales he tells. He also gives the impression that every incident he exposes happens to all drivers all the time. For what it's worth, in three years of driving nights (yes, most of the horror and sex Hoser writes about revolves around night drivers. Day drivers live a pretty normal life and stay married) I was propositioned 9 times (twice by blokes), robbed 3 times (not hurt and couldn't bother reporting it), had 12 runners (total cost $292), passengers getting it off in the back 7 times, 7 vomits, 3 accidents (none of them my fault), 21 traffic and parking fines (cost $1,995), nodded off at the wheel 3 times (no more semis for me, mate), 8 hard drug deals or takings in the back, had 1 complaint against me (as far as I know) and was harassed, intimidated or threatened by police 22 times. If I compressed all this into the experience of one month instead of three years, what a hell of a life I would have had. As it is, and because I didn't get physically attacked, it all becomes good yarns,

Whether Hoser's books will have a positive or negative impact on the taxi industry, if any at all, is to be seen. There are certainly heaps of documented allegations, extensive research and stories which will entertain some and offend others.

Just like Hoser's other books, Taxi 1 and 2 are written to shock, stir and to expose the sides of life most of us tend to push under the carpet in an act of self preservation.

Some in our industry will consider Raymond Hoser 'a real bastard' for revealing the seedier side of the taxi biz. Many police, politicians and bureaucrats already do. Well, if he is, maybe we need more 'bastards' like him.

Both books should he available from most bookstores Australia wide from 1 November or get a taste on the Web on <>.

This review was originally published in Cabbie magazine, November 2000, pp. 2 and 18.

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