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Qhadeer Mohammed
Taxi company: Beck Taxi
Years driving: Three years
Languages spoken: English, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic and Telugu, and a little bit of Spanish.
Photo Location: King and Simcoe Streets, outside of Roy Thomson Hall
Date: November 21, 2013
Interview Excerpt:
How did you start as a taxi driver?
I came as an international student. I studied Tourism and Travel in Toronto at Centennial College and then I got my work permit. I lived in an apartment building where every day I used to see a lot of taxi's parked outside. I came to know that most of the drivers they live in this building where the cars were parked outside. So I spoke to one of the neighbours and asked what are the benefits. I did my ground work…. He said yes, money wise it's not that good but you can survive for sure, which means like you can still easily make some money to support your family. At that time I just completed my graduation and I was looking for a career but I said yeah why not let me give it a shot and drive a cab for some time. So, I started getting training and then here I am like started as a driver.
What do you love about Toronto?
Everybody is running here and there. There's so many tourist places in Toronto especially in downtown. When we see those people carrying there bag pack visiting….as a driver I can find the difference between a person who lives in Toronto and whose an outsider, who’s trying to take small baby steps, trying to understand the routes, to read the signs… yeah, downtown is my favourite place in Toronto.
Did you ever drive a public figure, like a politician or actor that you remember?
Well I still remember Olivia Chow she was the MP at the time in 2013 I believe. I got a call from my company to pick up Olivia Chow. When I dropped her I asked are you Olivia Chow and she said yeah, how do you know that? I said I read Jack Layton’s book and I'm just glad to see you here again and I think I'm fortunate to have you in my car. He was a great person and so are you because you are trying to continue his legacy. She was really happy, she gave me her business card she signed it and she gave me a very generous tip. It was a great experience. I still preserved that business card from her.
What do you love about being a taxi driver, what did you love about it?
You are your own boss, you don't have to report to anybody and you make your own schedules. What time you want to wake up, what time you want to drive. You don't want to go to Toronto, downtown to get stuck in the traffic maybe you prefer working uptown where there won't be any traffic… and the time you feel down, you feel sick you don't want to die you can head home. Nobody is going to bother you, your loss and your gain… it's a business.