by Joy Thornton
When the ride share app Uber hit the streets of Northern Mississippi, taxi driver Lou found his job in jeopardy. In his book signing at the Cat Island Coffeehouse on March 4th, 2020, author Lee Durkee read a passage from his book and answered questions about his book: The Last Taxi Driver.
Durkee describes how services like Uber cause America to lose the human connection that one gets with a taxi driver.
“When I was a cab driver and worked the day shift, I not only took people to work, but people would call and they would get me to take out their garbage. If their pets had gotten away, I’d chase down pets. On at least four different occasions, I helped elderly people go to the bathroom. If people needed to go to the hospital, they called us; we were an ambulance. There was a connection between cab drivers and the community.”
Additionally, Durkee describes the anger portrayed by the narrator of his book. “The anger of the narrator Lou is more general in all directions, and I think he’s aware of it. Lou is too hard on himself, and he’s also too hard on other people.”
The author characterizes Lou’s mindset as someone who experiences being poor but ends up transporting people who are more impoverished than him. His anger is aimed at society rather than at the people he drives.
While driving his taxi past a bridge near the University of Mississippi, Durkee came across a student who was contemplating jumping off of the bridge. He pulled over, stayed with her, and offered his support until the police showed up.
Lee Durkee utilizes his background in the taxi industry in his book to tell a story that shows multiple perspectives and the different types of people you will find in the back of a taxi.
(Photos by Brian Lamar & Joy Thornton)