The Dad Taxi never goes off duty.
The Dad Taxi never goes off duty.

by Brian Clarey

The Dad Taxi is a beat-up station wagon of a make that is no longer in production, with a questionable electrical system and a rear-wiper blade that is just sad.

But there’s plenty of room inside for up to six good-sized kids if we include the way back; I don’t care if they spill soda on the seats; and it’s completely paid for. When it’s not in use as the Dad Taxi, the vehicle moonlights as part of the Triad City Beat distribution fleet, a role that seems light in comparison.

It’s a total pain in the ass, driving the Dad Taxi. Duties start just after 7 a.m., with a run to the school for the little ones, who by the way aren’t so little anymore. This is every school day, mind you.

The Dad Taxi also makes weekday afternoon runs as needed: lesson pickups downtown, evening events at the school or elsewhere, any sort of last-minute project that might necessitate a ride or trip to the store.

The Dad Taxi really rears up on weekends, shuttling to and from sleepovers and birthday parties, squad video-game sessions and whatever else the crew has planned. The Dad Taxi must also be on call from Friday through Sunday evening, just in case.

It knocks out at least a tank of gas a week, interrupts football games and work, and anything I might have going in the kitchen often needs to be kicked to a back burner.

But my secret is that I love driving the Dad Taxi, no matter how much it eats into my own stupid plans.

I get to hang with my young kids just about every day for at least 20 minutes before school. I know my oldest son’s friends from their rides in my car. We listen to music, talk smack, take note of landmarks and changes in the city as it passes by our windows. It’s not exactly quality time along the lines of a family vacation or snowed-in weekend, but with these kids and their crazy schedule I take what I can get.

And every time I feel like complaining about driving the Dad Taxi, I remember how quickly this time in my life — my years as an active parent — are slipping away. Even my Dad Taxi duties are almost complete: The oldest starts drivers ed next week. By summertime, he’ll be at the wheel of the Big Brother Taxi. Maybe he’ll let me ride shotgun.

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