“I’ve been a taxi driver on and off for 15 years, and a lot of that time has been spent driving customers from Helsinki Airport to their respective destinations. I’ve been doing this for so long that it now feels routine; this job has been really suitable for me. I’m typically on the road from afternoons to evenings.
“During the 20-minute ride to Helsinki city centre, there’s lots of time to talk. My customers are a mix of Finns and foreigners. Some are silent throughout the ride and that’s fine. Others strike up a conversation and inevitably ask about Finland – about the education system, where to go for good Finnish food, or what to expect during their holiday in Lapland.
“At times visitors would ask me where all the police are, since they’re perhaps not as visible here as they are in other countries. I try to answer their questions in the best way I could, and I always tell them that Helsinki is a safe and clean city. I also let them know that I don’t mind recommending good Finnish restaurants if they want to try local flavours. I realise that as a taxi driver, I am somehow an unofficial tourism ambassador; I want visitors to enjoy their stay in Finland and it all starts with a good first impression.
“While I never really know who will end up boarding my taxi, I find it very gratifying to receive kind words from strangers. Once, a customer got my number from the receipt and called to thank me for a good conversation.
“In all the years I’ve been a taxi driver, a lot has changed at Helsinki Airport. It has become noticeably busier and significantly more international. One thing remains the same, though:
Meeting all sorts of people with different views of the world is the most rewarding part of this job.”