Jacqueline Maresch drives people through Zurich at night in her “philosophical taxi” with the aim of bringing a bit more humanity into the world.
Passengers are welcomed with a “bedtime candy”, and as a farewell they are offered a piece of philosophy, hand-written on a small slip of coloured paper. The taxi ride itself takes place in Maresch's Honda Shuttle, which has 130 000 kilometres on the clock.
“Putting the sayings on display is something that built up gradually”, says Jacqueline Maresch. It started with just one, and now the entire Honda is decorated both inside and out with small posters. She refers to her collection of bon mots – wise words on humanity, rationality, charity and respect – as “street philosophy”. “Humanity cannot be decreed” reads one of the pearls of wisdom from Jacqueline Maresch's jumbled collection. She devotes one hour a day to expanding her compilation of sayings, which is carefully divided into categories such as “Laws”, “Well said”, “Reality” or “Mankind + world”. Among these maxims are quotes from Goethe, John F. Kennedy and Tolstoy, as well as from Thomas Borer, Franz Müntefering and countless unnamed poets. Maresch draws her inspiration from the news, crime thrillers and talk shows.
“In the environment in which I grew up, we were not encouraged to think for ourselves”, says the 68- year-old in her velvety, husky voice. “When I was 26, there was absolutely no sparkle in my eyes”. Yet she did not give up hope. At first she began studying life and the world around her almost unconsciously, purely for her own pleasure. Jackie, as her friends call her, does not imagine that she can change the world with her little slips of paper. “My role is to plant a tiny seed. If something grows from it, that makes me happy”. Her dream is to sow a seed which blossoms into something miraculous. Her aim is to give people food for thought, and perhaps a little counselling. A passenger once thanked her for offering him a saying which gave him the impetus to end a relationship which had long since become unbearable. “Don't let yourself be oppressed!” was the maxim which the taxi-driving philosopher had given him three months previously. Some people prefer to stay well clear of her taxi. Some have got in the vehicle only to get out again immediately, afraid that they are being drawn into the clutches of a sect. Jacqueline Maresch, a mother of two and a grandmother, has a good laugh at these stories.
She became a taxi driver thanks to her father, who sold his restaurant to take over a taxi company. “I will pay for your driving test if you drive for me”, he told her. That was 48 years ago. These days she only drives through the streets of Zurich at night. She is not afraid, even though she encounters precarious situations now and again. “But what can you do? Either you drive a taxi or you are scared”. Nevertheless, she has no intention of driving during the day. “At night the air is calm and I can let my thoughts flow freely. And problems simply float up into the still air”.