Fredericton — Ed Allen, 49, wanted to drive a taxi from the time he was a small boy growing up in Sussex, N.B. When his elementary school teachers would ask him to draw pictures of his adult self, he would invariably sketch a smiling stick-figure inside a bright-yellow car, picking up grateful customers in need of a safe ride home.
After Allen graduated from high school, he was thrilled to be accepted to the famously elite Taxi Academy, located in the capital city. His teary-eyed parents kissed him goodbye and he was on his way to a bright future as a Fredericton cab driver.
Allen, who is now married and a father of 5 young children, admitted that cabbing doesn’t pay much, but he does it for the sheer joy of a 12-hour shift well done. “I make minimum wage and my wife stays home to take care of our kids,” he said. “She’s asked me to get a ‘better’ job to support the family, but I say, what could be more rewarding than driving drunk students around at midnight? What could be more satisfying than ensuring tipsy women get home safely when their husbands don’t feel like picking them up? Being poor is a sacrifice you make to do what you love — which for me has always been driving cabs.”
Everything changed for Allen on Saturday night when he turned down a woman looking for a ride to the north side. “She was alone, and I had a very limited time to make the maximum amount of money… I love what I do, but I still need to pay rent and put food on the table. As much as I wanted to give her a drive, I knew at most I’d make $6.50, which would barely cover gas.
“I felt really bad about it, but I knew it was within the company’s rights as a private business and not a government-run service. Hopefully I can pick her up next time around.”
On Sunday the woman posted a Facebook status complaining that she had to get a different cab. The status went viral, with friends calling her “brave” for speaking out against what has become the single biggest problem in Fredericton: slight inconveniences.
“Am I brave? Maybe,” said the woman. “Am I the voice of people everywhere who just want to have a minor-inconvenience-free evening out? Definitely.”
Naturally, Allen has been without sleep since the incident.
“Maybe I have been unfair to well-off northside ladies who go out once a year and expect the royal treatment from service-industry workers,” mused a distraught Allen. “In fact, where do I even get off acting this way?? What have these people done to me? And when will I stop putting the needs of my wife and 5 children ahead of the needs of random irate strangers who talk to me like I’m their slave!?”
Allen then burst into tears, and began tearing his hair out in anguish. This morning, unable to bear the burden of his guilt for another second, he resigned from the job that has been his passion for nearly 3 decades.
“I don’t deserve to drive taxis,” he said. “…Do you happen to know anyone who’s hiring?”