Monday, July 15, 2024
"Confessions of a Hamilton Cab Driver" by Hans Wienhold is now availabe on Amazon. Image: Amazon
NewsReviewTaxi industry news

A bullshit detector and a sense of humour make life bearable

“The most essential gift for a good writer,” Ernest Hemingway famously noted, “is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.”

I believe this to be true; I also believe it is the single most obvious reason retired Hamilton cabbie Hans Wienhold is truly gifted.

Probably no one, not even his biggest fans, would put him in the same class of writers as Ernest Hemingway. However, as a Bullshit Detective, Hans Wienhold is in a class of his own. (In fact, in his Taxi News bio he proudly describes himself as a “Welfare Recipient at Senior’s Welfare; Self-Employed; and also, a Climate Scientist at BS Detective Services.”)

Hans Wienhold earned notoriety by getting his signature on a list of Climate Scientists worried the world is ending. Image: Hamilton Spectator

Before I get onto the topic of his brand new book “Confessions of a Hamilton Cab Driver,” there a few other details you should know about him to put the book into perspective.

Disgusted with what he calls the “climate change scam,” Hans Wienhold earned local notoriety in November, 2019 when he submitted his name to a list of “Climate Scientists” declaring a “Climate Emergency.”

It was an amusing prank, and did demonstrate that whoever was collecting the signatures of “Climate Scientists” for the list was not checking credentials very rigorously. (“Mickey Mouse” was another signatory.)

Then, the Hamilton Spectator picked up the story and Wienhold earned front-page coverage with a giant photo and a headline which read, “Retired Hamilton cabbie gets his name on list of fake scientists declaring climate emergency.”

When COVID-19 landed like a bomb in Canada and around the world, Wienhold put his analytical/bullshit detecting brain to work collecting and analysing the statistics released daily, weekly, and monthly by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and other agencies. I actually found it fascinating to follow his daily postings, not so much for what the government posts showed, but for what they hid.

“Ontario just stopped posting this daily set of numbers,” he observed one day. “I have a spreadsheet going back for months so that I could run my own numbers. One day, the whole set just disappeared from the website with no explanation, and they never came back.”

No one else even seemed to notice.

When Uber arrived in Canada and was welcomed into major municipalities despite the fact that it was clearly a taxi company ignoring all municipal by-laws, Wienhold created one of the best parody videos in history by using a segment of the famed movie “Taxi Driver.”

“Travis meets Travis” from Hans Wienhold’s hilarious parody video. Photo: Columbia Pictures

Titled “Travis meets Travis,” in Wienhold’s version Travis (Robert de Niro as the Taxi Driver) meets Travis (Harvey Keitel, the pimp, as Travis Kalanick, founder of Uber). Wienhold created a hilarious set of captions to voice the characters as Travis the Pimp explained to Travis the Taxi Driver how driving for Uber was different than driving a Taxi – mainly because Travis the Taxi Driver would owe Travis the Pimp 20 per cent of his earnings every day.

“Travis meets Travis” is up on Bitchute, and is just a hoot to watch – especially if you were part of the Taxi industry when all of this nonsensical bullshit was being spread around.

Now, Hans Wienhold has published to Amazon his first full book, “Confessions of a Hamilton Cab Driver,” and it is a blast.

“This is the story of one man’s adventures in the Hamilton taxi business spanning the years from 1977 to 2018. Some names have been changed,” Wienhold writes in the summary.

“There is nothing particularly unique about my story. Every cab driver has his own. Not every cab driver gets around to writing a book about it. Over the years I drove thousands of customers to their destinations. Most were happily satisfied with my service, if not downright euphoric.

“While the stories told in this manuscript are derived from the way the taxi business operated in Hamilton, Ontario in those times, I am confident that any taxi driver, just about anywhere in the world will be able to relate to them.”

People who have worked in and around the Taxi industry for the past half century will definitely recall the heyday of the business, when cash flowed freely and part-time drivers could pick up a shift or two as they needed the money.

In his “Confessions,” Wienhold gives away many of the trade secrets used by smart drivers to avoid “dead calls” (no customer to pick up) or “pukers” (mainly to be found at closing time, on bar calls).

“Some will find my tactics in the trade disagreeable. Others will nod their heads knowingly. Politicians and their regulatory staffers will be outraged. They will certainly want to drag me in front of one of their tribunals to cancel my taxi driver’s license and prohibit me from ever driving a taxi again.

“Too bad for them. I already quit,” he writes.

Chapter titles include “Groceries,” “My first dead trip,” and “Hookers.” I laughed out loud at this anecdote:   

“For the last few years of his life, my father was a resident in a nursing home. A life-long womanizer, he was creating some problems with his dogged pursuit of the ladies.

“My sister and I attended a meeting with his doctor and social worker to address the matter. At one point, the social worker revealed her unconscious bias with an egregious micro-aggression. She turned to me and said, “You’re a taxi driver. Can’t you get him a hooker?”

I was not offended by this anti-cab-driver-ist microaggression. I was amused. I told her that despite popular belief, I was not engaged in facilitating the hooker trade and there was nothing I could do to help out in that department.

In an effort to divert him from his behavior at the nursing home, we arranged a trip for him.

To Cuba.”

Taxi News readers have long enjoyed Wienhold’s dry sense of humour and unshockable bullshit detector. Now lots of other readers may too – “Confessions of a Hamilton Cab Driver” is available from Amazon in hard cover, paperback or Kindle.

*****

A few favourite Wienhold  columns from Taxi News: