Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cabbie Adventures

Most of the time when I travel to a new place I end up renting a car. Unless there is a huge event in the city or a major tourist destination, rental cars for a whole day cost about as much as a couple of 15 minute cab rides. Yeah I have experienced the dirty cab and the cab that has an air conditioning or heater that doesn't work. However, unlike the jokes of late night TV or popular movie images of wacky insane cab drivers, my experiences have been almost ALWAYS engaging and luckily even rather pleasant at times.

On a trip last year I experienced my first cab ride in a Toyota Prius hybrid. Not only was that noteworthy enough in a business where the biggest of big, environmentally care-free cars reign king, but the cabbie was a violinist as well. And not a violinist in name only, he had his actual violin and flute right there in the front seat of the car. It seemed like a like a smart use of time to be able to play at stoplights or practice your love of music while waiting for your next fare. That guy would have been GREAT as a gondolier in Venice!

More recently, I met a cab driver who was military trained in radio electronics. He also seemed unusually interested in natural phenomena and excitedly talked about “ball” lightning, volcanoes, rainbows, and his interest in astronomy. I enjoyed the conversation but my only preference would have been that he didn't talk with his hands. Every time he would gesticulate to show how big or spaced out something was, he would take his hands off the steering wheel. He was a smart guy and I only wished I had some kind of new research engineering project to hire him away from the cab business. He already seemed very happy though and it was a mentally stimulating ride to the airport for me, so I tipped big for a change.

Now it is true I have had the occasional stereotypical crazy cabbie who has made me fear for my life. In London, though I was in no particular hurry, my cab driver would literally bump other cabs and shoehorn our cab through traffic. To make matters worse, he would open the window and scream at the other drivers for not yielding fast enough to his aggression. I sheepishly hunkered down in back, trying not to make eye contact with any of my driver’s victims. In New York I experienced the excitement of the ‘foreign’ cabbie who barely spoke English. He understood enough though to know that we were late to a show and piloted his cab like a rocket ship. Apparently this guy had a strict diet of TV cop shows, because I have never had such ride in my life aside from Disneyland. Yes while weaving in and out of traffic and bracing myself with the door strap, I truly wondered if this WAS the last cab ride of my life? I tipped ‘big’ that time too -– but I thought of it as more of a Tithe to thank the GODS I was alive!

No comments:

Post a Comment