Every Monday, I highlight a cab driver from some part of the globe whose story deserves to be shared. This week’s featured cabbie is Riichiro Nakajima, a Charlie Chaplin impersonator in Tokyo who uses his taxi to support his art.
Do you know any cool cabbies who should be in the spotlight? Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Featured Cabbie’ in the subject line.
I would argue that all taxi drivers lead double lives to some extent, but some cabbies are especially creative when it comes to how they spend their time away from the wheel.
In New York, I’ve crossed paths with ex-musicians, ex-engineers, and ex-chemists who now work as cab drivers, sacrificing their former professions to survive in a new city. In Buenos Aires, I met sculptors, tango singers and priests who drove a few days every week to sustain themselves.
In Tokyo, Riichiro Nakajima devotes himself to comedy when he’s not speeding through the city in his taxi. Though the 59-year old sleeps on a futon in an office he shares with three roommates, his earnings as a Charlie Chaplin impersonator aren’t enough to pay the 20,000 yen (U$230) rent. A few days a month, he drives a cab until 4am, but he can only keep 40% of his earnings.
He may be “barely scraping by,” but Riichiro isn’t complaining. Even when he’s off stage, he elicits smiles from everyone in the neighborhood…