My job is supercool. I am in a taxi with a package full of money, on my way to meet a mysterious stranger at an undisclosed location. I feel like a disposable henchman in a Bond film. I wonder how I’m going to be dispatched, and if I’ll have enough consciousness to catch the inevitable tortuous pun…
To spoil the surprise, the money is £500 in pound coins, and I am going to get them photographed. This is even less glamourous than I expertly lead you to believe in the first paragraph because the coins are in a big pink bucket.
The company is currently doing a campaign for a bank, and the posters will feature structures built out of coins, and for that we need to build and take photos of them. We’re literally made of money.
It is about 9:20 in the morning, and I’ve withdrawn this money from the bank and dashed into a waiting taxi. It feels like an elaborate espionage mission and I am pretty chuffed about it.
After the taxi driver takes down the postcode of my rendezvous, he sets off through the city centre.
‘What’s that you’ve got there?’ he asks.
‘It’s a big pink bucket full of five hundred £1 coins,’ I reply.
‘What’s that for? Making a deposit?’
I try to have a joke with him.
‘No, it’s a ransom. I’m going to meet some thieves. They stole my iPhone.’ I hold up my iPhone for illustrative purposes.
‘Oh,’ he replies, my excellent joke falling flat on it’s stupid face.
I opt instead for the truth; ‘I’m a designer,’ I say, ‘and we’re rebranding a bank. These are for a photoshoot.’
‘Oh,’ he replies.’
This is clearly going nowhere. The set of circumstances currently being undertaken in this vehicle are thoroughly interesting, and if you’ve got nothing to say to that, let’s give up and sit in silence.
We pull up at a set of traffic lights, and he turns to me as if to say something. Oh Christ, is he an illegal minicabber, about to stab me for my bucket of coins? Or maybe he’s a kidnapper; my earlier jape accidentally alerting him that I might know too much, and as such must be silenced? Or is he a marketing hating nutter who’s about to lampoon me for all the myriad ills involved in my profession?
Nothing happens. He just looks at me. I think I might have blushed.
It dawns on me that he is probably only craving a bit of company. He seems a sweet, shy, possibly lonely old man, obviously inviting me to start a conversation.
I pretend to do a double take, flash a warm smile and ask him the first question I can think of, which happens to be what time he started, and inwardly flinch as I realise I am now officially as interesting as Peter Kay.
‘Seven,’ he replies, but in a tone of voice that implies he wants me to continue this banal line of inquiry. It’s like blood from a bloody stone this…1
I can feel the shame burning the back of my throat as my voicebox coughs up the sentence ‘What time are you on ‘til?’
‘Any interesting bookings happening today?’
‘You’re the most exciting so far.’ You’re damn right I am!
‘Any good cabbie stories?’
Well, this is supremely awkward. About a minute passes, and I pretend that I can’t hear the uncomfortable silence over the sound of the engine. I get my phone out and pretend to organise a business call but I actually text my friend Luke about last night’s TV. Luke doesn’t text back.
I get to the secret location. It is a building. I wave a cheery goodbye to my silent chauffeur and enter. The photographer is a pretty native Scandinavian girl who has just moved to the UK. I tell her that this is but one of my buckets of money, but I don’t think she understands I am joking. This is unfortunate because if she was impressed I would have to withdraw all my savings and put it in buckets to maintain her trust. I shut my face, and the rest of the shoot passes without incident.
On the way back, I have a different taxi driver, who tells me that everyone except him, including me, is the worst word in the world.2
He proceeds to tell me that I’m worth more to him dead than alive, because alive I am only an £8.00 cab fair whereas if I am killed in an accident in his vehicle I am worth £250,000. He punched his sat-nav because he ignored it and got lost. He is not a nice man. I want the old guy back.
1 This may have been a poor choice of words.
2 Runny poo-head.