LOOKING back on the indelible legacy his life’s work has left on Ireland and the wider world, Dubliner Joseph Maxi, the famed inventor of the taxi spoke to WWN.
Now 93, Maxi came up with the idea when working in a bread factory in the nation’s capital. He tells his story:
“It actually started when the lock on me car doors broke, pricks from work would be baling in to the back and demanding I give them a lift home, it was a nightmare. In those days not everyone had a car, believe it or not”.
“I must have had ‘can be taken for a ride’ written across me face ‘cus I never got any thanks for it, and there’d be a queue along the path for me, the odd fight would even break out when someone just stepped out on the street to flag me down”.
“It’s important to remember flagging a taxi down didn’t exist at this point so it was confusing all round”.
“Things changed though one day when I was dropping the last prick from work off and we got caught in awful traffic. Think it might have been the great Guinness flood of 1960. 12 died after a Guinness lorry overturned, terrible stuff but I was raging ‘cus sure I should have been home hours ago only for dropping off this prick living out in the sticks”.
“Something got into me I had finally had enough, I started tearing strips into him; ‘people just want something for nothing these days’, ‘it’s all take take take’, ‘joke of politicians doing nothing’, ‘don’t get me started on the foreigners’. On and on I was going. Then it happened, yer man threw a fiver at me and begged me to shut up before he bolted out the door”.
“I’d really, really enjoyed just mouthing off, giving out, letting rip. And if the pricks who keep trying to grab lifts off me would pay me to shut up, it was a perfect combo”.
“I didn’t stop there, I knew three right moany curmudgeons in work and I got them doing the same thing, gave them cars and a list of topics that you should never discuss with strangers and made them only talk about those things. Making the passenger uncomfortable was key. And off they went, being paid to shut up when passengers had enough of them saying ‘you know what’s wrong with women these days’, stuff like that”.
“I eventually franchised the whole lot out, New York first, then Delhi, Beijing. But I sort of lost my love for it and I walked away.”
“It was only years later when I had to get a taxi home one night a driver said to me ‘lovely evening for it’ and I took that as a queue to ruin his night by being miserable, it was like muscle memory. So now every since I retired 30 years ago that’s what I do. I go taxi hopping and wear the ear off them. There’s a beautiful symmetry to it if you’re into that stuff, I’m not I fucking hate it, I’ll tell you that for nothing and another thing…”
This interview was edited down for clarity and our sanity.
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