The night I met my future roommate was a magical one, namely because it involved Creekbread pizza, which is my favourite. Engaged in conversation with the person that I would later discover has excellent cohabitation characteristics (clean; has puppy; not smelly), the topic wandered to cab fare in our sweet mountain town. I told him where I lived, and he was able to tell me my cab fare with eerie accuracy. “Rain Man!” I thought to myself.
In fact, Marcus Culver is not Rain Man, but a cab driver. There’s a reason that shows like Taxi Cab Confession and Cash Cab exist: taxi drivers encounter some pretty interesting, funny, weird or just straight up annoying people every night. I decided to forego my usual riveting Saturday night plans, and instead opted to tag along with Marcus to see how the rest of Whistler spends their weekend party nights.
Whistler Fun Cab
I must disclose that I did not ride shotgun in your average Whistler cab. I actually got to ride around in the pimped up dark forest green party wagon known as Whistler Fun Cab. It’s no coincidence that the Fun Cab is Taxi # 33, am I right?
Marcus and I left the house, fully stocked with an iPad equipped with NetFlix, some water bottles (two for Marcus—“less stops required”, he sagely advised) and the magical feeling you get when you’re about to go on an epic road trip.
A Slow Start
I chose the Saturday night of a US long weekend because I figured that I would encounter the craziest characters, but the night started off pretty quietly. It gave me a chance to ask Marcus a few questions, like how long he’d been driving (seven years) and how he got the gig (an ad in our local paper, The Pique). I was sufficiently impressed to learn that Marcus knows every road, complex and landmark in Whistler.
Taxi Patron Tip: You don't actually need to advise your cab driver on every turn they need to make. They've got it. Just enjoy the ride, bro.
The Staff Housing Curse
We got a call for the IGA, but by the time we got there, our would-be client had already left. Marcus wanted to pick up a few supplies at IGA anyway, and he told me no-shows in this area were pretty common, but it wasn't as bad as staff housing. Staff housing is the least desired zone for all Whistler cab drivers. You go all the way up that windy little road only to find that the drunk 18-year Australians (sorry to generalize, but we all know it’s true) have already left. On the off chance that they haven’t disappeared into the night, you’re probably not going to get a huge tip.
While Marcus went in the IGA, I decided to take pictures of myself pretending to drive the taxi (see above). I felt really awesome when a guy totally busted me and jumped in the back of the cab and asked me if I could take him to staff housing (ha!). Luckily, Marcus got back just in time and we took this guy to staff housing. Although he was probably 18 and definitely Australian, this guy was actually very nice. I told him about my article, and he asked Marcus if he had ever been offered sexual favours in lieu of cab fare. Answer: yes (although he has never accepted. Classy guy, that Marcus!).
Friends are the Best
The next few rides were fairly uneventful, just your average partying German kids and folks saying they’d spotted Chad Michael Murray at The Grocery Store (yes, we have a grocery store called The Grocery Store). And then, the friend phone calls started pouring in.
Marcus had told me that friend phone calls were his favourite, and I quickly discovered why. We got to hang out with friends I’d seen days prior and others I hadn’t seen in a year. We got hugs, high fives and even a round of applause for delivering our friends safely to their destination of choice. Friends, got to love them.
Marcus had some excellent insight with respect to the best on-the-road food places in town, kindly breaking down the best spots to hit up before 5 PM (including Ingrid’s, Tandoori Grill and Portobello) and after 5 PM (obviously Creekbread, but Samurai Sushi and Royal Taste of India got mentions as well). We decided to go for Royal Taste of India, which incidentally offers a cab driver special. Dinner was a highlight of the trip, even though they forgot to include cutlery.
Post Party Rush
I had been anticipating the bar close rush all evening, and it didn’t disappoint. Clients ranged from hospitable (“seriously, you should come to this house party with us—you will totally regret it if you don’t”) to creepy (one guy kept purring and asked to turn on the lights in the cab to see me better… what) to annoying (screaming people). We had a bejewelled California actress (her eyebrows were rhinestones), a Brit kid who got a little misty-eyed with The Streets came on the sound system, and a guy who had accidentally fallen asleep in the Aava Hotel (he wasn't even staying there!). As Marcus said, "You never really know who you're going to get." Much like a box of chocolates, I noted.
Our final drop off was conveniently at a complex just down the road from our home sweet home, and the timing was perfect. It was just after 3 AM and I was dying. These things happen when your usual curfew is 11 PM.
Cab driving seems to be a sweet gig, and I learned some valuable tips on how to be a good client:
Marcus asked me to throw one safety tip out to the readership: for the love, y’all, don’t be walking along the sides of the highway at night, especially when you’re drunk. It is obviously incredibly dangerous and there are a lot of close calls and, unfortunately, occasionally a few fatalities. The highway is dark and weather conditions make it VERY hard to see, and drunk people don’t typically walk in straight lines. Take the valley trail. Take the bus. Take a cab. Take the Fun Cab.