It was September 2009 and the British summertime seemed to be over; in fact, I did not recall it even starting. As usual, I was sitting in the front of my London taxi cab asking myself what life was all about.
Then all of a sudden, a worldly-wise North American man approached my cab and asked to be taken to the Brook's club in St James's. For some unknown reason, I felt an overwhelming urge to ask this particular passenger for some advice.
I hesitated for a while, and finally, my words came out.
"Excuse me sir, what the best bit of advice you've ever been given?"
He thought for a moment, and then gently responded with, "think before you decide."
After dropping him off at his destination, I made a spontaneous decision to ask all future passengers to contribute with their favourite quotes, proverbs, or words of wisdom.
I suppose deep down I am a bit of a philosopher, and have always enjoyed hearing or reading inspirational words of wisdom, but had never thought of asking any of my passengers for advice, that was, until now!
At first I jotted down passengers verbal responses on bits of scrap paper, and by the end of the shift, I was flabbergasted with the amount of positive feedback I had received. Collecting quotes in my taxi was without doubt having a harmonious effect on the passengers and me.
The following day I placed a clipboard on the back seat, attached to it was some A4 paper and a pen, this allowed passengers to think and write at their own leisure. Within a week of my encounter with the North American man, I had amassed a vast amount of quotes, proverbs and inspirational phrases, as well as, unexpectedly finding myself on the receiving end of a repetitive question from passengers.
"Driver, are you going to write a book with all this material?"
"No, I collect nuggets of wisdom for my own purpose and direction. However, if it were for a book, would you buy it?"
The passengers responses were unanimous "Yes."
What had started out as a spontaneous question to a North American passenger had now evolved into something resembling a personal growth project, with my passengers insisting that I use the material to write a book.
Over the next few months, I put together a book proposal and asked passengers with publishing or journalistic knowledge for their opinions and advice.
The final spark came when I received a surprise invitation to The London Book Fair in April 2010. Armed with my book proposal and full of passenger-inspired confidence, I approached Summersdale Publisher, who listened carefully to the above story, and to my sheer delight offered to help me produce a book called Black Cab Wisdom [Summersdale, $8.95].