ST. CLOUD -- Maybe you've taken one home after a night out with friends, maybe your car broke down and you needed a ride to work or you could have used one while on vacation, when is the last time you took a cab?

Being a taxi driver comes in at #9 on this year's most stressful jobs list developed by Yellow Cab's, Walter has been driving the streets of St. Cloud for nearly 20 years.

After being laid off as a forklift driver, Walter worked many temporary jobs until a friend suggested him to try another driving career.

"I talked to someone I used to work with at Fingerhut and they did the cab driving thing and I'm like, what the heck it can't hurt."

Walter says because he works the overnight shift his average customer can be quite a character.

"I do the 6:00 p.m. - 6:00 a.m. shift so I deal with well I'd say probably about 60 percent of my people have had just a wee bit too much to drink."

While some of his customers might be drunk Walter says others could be under another influence.

"Every now an again you'll get the super [agitated person], yes we get tweekers and the meth heads are pretty obvious too."

Since a taxi driver never fully knows the state a person is in when they come into the cab, Walter avoids picking up random people. To stay safe he only gives rides to people who have called in.

"Your main problem children come from randoms, that just get in your cab and then you take off with them. Then you get the people that run, the people that want to get all feisty with you. When you only take people who call in, you've got the phone number, you've got the person's name, you've got where you picked them up, you've got the destination, you know stuff."

Besides safety one of the most stressful aspects of being a taxi driver is making enough money to support yourself.

"Driving a cab is a crap shoot every night, you come in and you hope people want rides. I want to try to get to as many people as I can quickly and as efficiently as I can, obviously it has to be safe."

The old saying, you've got to spend money to make money, is a reality for many cab drivers.

"A lot of people have the misconception that cab drivers are like everybody else and we make an hourly wage, no we do not. We are 100 percent commission. If we come in and we sit there and we do no runs, we make no money."

Walter says cab drivers have to pay for the lease on their vehicle, gas, car washes and regular car maintenance, so if they don't do any runs they actually lose money.

For a slow night a driver would do 10 or less runs and a busy night would be about 30 runs. Walter says getting a customer to their destination quickly and safely is a top priority but sometimes technology can prevent a customer from getting to a place fast.

"I'll be picking them up and they'll get in and be like 'I've been waiting an hour' and I say I'm very sorry about that, I have no idea what's going on at the office, I have no control over what comes to me, when it comes to me. I am sorry that you had to wait so long but please let's try to relax, I'll get you where you're going no problem."

Regardless of the challenges Walter says he never gets sick of driving for a living.

Tune in next week as we check out the #8 most stressful job of 2017, a public relations executive.

Yellow Cab Taxi Driver, Walter. (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)
Yellow Cab Taxi Driver, Walter. (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)

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