FRAMINGHAM – On July 14, 1986, he drove yellow cab #19 to pick up a passenger at 19 Hayes Street for his very first dispatch assignment.
Today, November 1, 2019 Bruce Low will drive his taxi back into the Tommy’s Taxi lot and place the breaks on full-time driving.
After 33 years of driving full-time for Tommy’s Taxi, Low will officially retire, and transition to part-time.
Low was driving from 5 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. He will now drive from 5 a.m.-11 a.m. Monday-Wednesday, and when the company is short-staffed.
“I’ll admit, I’ve got butterflies,” said Low, “It’s a huge change, it’s going to take some serious getting used to.”
Born in Jamaica Plain, Low’s family moved to Framingham when he was a newborn. He grew up in Framingham and, though he lived in Waltham while married before his wife passed away, he’s always considered himself a ‘townie’.
Working for over three decades in the City of Framingham, the taxi driver has seen many changes. One of those changes was the implementation of the automatic railroad signal.
When Low started, “the railroad crossing was manual. The guy would come out of his shed and turn the crank for the arm to go down.”
Another change Low has experienced is the increase in traffic. “It’s backing up more and more now,” he said. “What’s it going to be like when all of these new apartments open up?”
The Framingham ‘townie’ has also seen the former Fabric Place turn into apartments and an apple orchard turn into what is now the Target plaza.
Not only has Low experienced changes, but he’s also experienced some interesting situations.
His craziest experience?
Accidentally driving someone who had just robbed a bank.
He received a call from the dispatcher to pick up a passenger at Stop and Shop on Temple Street. At the time, Low hadn’t known that the passenger had robbed the Bank of America, walked across the street to Stop and Shop, and used a pay phone to call a cab.
“I’m stopped and look in my rearview and see a man walking up behind me, limping and he had his arm over his stomach. I said oh, the man had a stroke, let me back up. Well, he had the money under his shirt, I didn’t know it,” Low said.
Red and blue lights were flashing all around the area as police cars whizzed by as he exited the plaza.
Low took the man to Clark Street.
“On the way he says hey, I got a muffin. Do you want half my muffin? I said no, that’s okay. He said no, let me give you some,” Low said. But, when the passenger went to break the muffin in half, it crumbled all over the car floor.
“He offered me half a muffin, never got it […] He says how much do I owe you? I say $8.50. He hands me a ten dollar bill and he says keep the 50 cents, but can I have a dollar? I’m short of money,” said Low.
Once the bank robber got out and entered his destination, Low met with the police. The bank teller arrived on scene in an unmarked police vehicle. Once the police got ahold of the robber, both the bank teller and Low identified him.
Mike Hill, the police detective covering the case, then asked for the $10 bill with which the bank robber had paid Low for his ride. “I never saw it again, he never returned the $10 to me either,” Low said, “It was just a really bizarre situation,” he laughed.
Whenever Low tells a story or talks about his memories from his driving career, there is a sparkle in his eye that never fades.
Though 33 years may sound like a long time, he says time has gone by quickly.
His favorite part of being a taxi driver is the interactions and conversations he has with his customers.
”I know a little bit about many topics that I’ve learned from other people in conversation, as opposed to a lot about just a few things,” said Low. A little bit about a lot is better for conversation.
The Framingham man tries to watch the news every night or briefly in the morning, so as to have the newest information for a conversation with his passengers.
His personality and attitude is infectious, and shows why he has so many regular customers.
In fact, he still drives people that he drove when he first started.
“Some people come in and they say oh here, I made this for you, like a treat or something like that. Or they go to pick something up and ask me what I like. Or they’ll call and request me and go here, here’s some lunch for you,” he said.
When he’s not driving, Low said he’ll be keeping himself busy during retirement. He enjoys activities such as reading, gardening and watching classic movies.
Congratulations on 33 years!
Photos by Shauna Golden