“Well of course there are some nice ones, but right from the get-go at this job, I found that a lot of entertainers look down on us taxi drivers. You hear them exchanging patter with their chums on television, putting us down or making fun of us, and that really burns me up.”
The speaker, a 46-year-old driver for a large taxi firm, pours out his resentment to Shukan Taishu (March 31).
“I never want to drive for W (only initials are used in this article), an entertainer who appears on variety shows and who also serves as a moderator on some news commentary programs,” he says. “That guy has a terrible attitude. After he gets in the car, he just says, ‘Hurry up, get moving!’ without even telling me where he wants to go. And if the traffic is heavy, he’ll say, ‘Why did you pick this street? Hurry up, dammit!’ All he does is complain, complain, complain—from the time he gets in until he gets out!”
Up-and-coming entertainers disdain use of public transport, and see regular use of taxis as something of a status symbol. That said, one would think that they would develop cordial, if not friendly, relationships with the drivers. But that would appear to be the exception rather than the rule.
“Last October, soccer commentator Masakiyo Maezono was arrested after he slapped a taxi driver in an argument over the fare,” an unnamed reporter for a nationally circulated daily tells the magazine. “Currently he’s still in limbo, work-wise. And back in 2005, kabuki actor Shichinosuke Nakamura was arrested for a similar offense. In the past, a driver suffered blunt force trauma to the head after being struck by actor Kazuya Kimura. It seems that once actors get drunk, it results in their shedding their humanity.”
Actresses aren’t much better.
“The other day, I was driving Ms M, a top actress, on her way back from rehearsal, and oh man…” says another driver, an eight-year veteran. “When I asked her where she wanted to go, she just snapped, ‘Take me to my place!’ and not knowing it, I replied ‘Sorry, but I don’t know where it is,’ and she became agitated and sullen.
“Up to that moment, I’d been kinda thrilled to be carrying somebody famous, but I sure regretted it at that point.”
Another famous actress, a certain Ms K, was known as a dedicated dog lover.
“She’d get in with several yapping mutts and let them hop and drool all over the back seat,” another unpleasant anecdote goes. “After she left the car, I noticed a smell and when I investigated, I found a dog turd that she’d popped into the pocket on the seat back.”
A 50-year-old owner-driver politely asked Mr U, a well-known musician, which route he wanted him to take to his destination.
“Don’t you know the roads in Tokyo, ‘omae?’” he replied. “How many years have you been a driver?” (Omae is a rather contemptuous form of “you.”) “Moron!” he shouted, lashing out with his foot, kicking the front seat several times.
Shukan Taishu piles it on with several more unhappy accounts of lapses in manners by members of the entertainment world. Such as Ms I, who’s well known in the gossip columns for having wed a man many years her junior.
“Hurry up! If I don’t get there by 5 p.m., I’ll get chewed out by the program host!” she screeched at her driver.
“When we got there a couple of minutes late, I was afraid she’d stomp off without paying. What a ****!” the driver mutters.
“It’s a sad fact that there’s a completely different side to the personalities of some of the famous individuals you see on TV,” says Ryoko Ozawa, a critic. “Whenever they pay money to someone, they assume a haughty attitude, and will harass people they feel are of lower status. I detest such people.
“By contrast, in past times, important politicians used to accord gracious treatment even to the lowly doormen in charge of footwear,” she notes.
You showbiz folks might benefit from some serious soul-searching, Shukan Taishu’s writer remarks.