Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Cabby World

Growing up and spending most of my adult years in Montana, I had no call for using a taxi to get from place to place unless my family and I were flying to a vacation destination and needed to get to our hotel. However, most of the time, we would use the airport shuttle or rent a car. If we did resort to using a taxi, I never paid much attention to the driver except for relaying our destination. But, oh how that changed when we made a stop in Nassau, Bahamas.

Denise, our taxi driver, was by far the most unique driver I had ever encountered. As we left the ship, I spotted her immediately...how could you miss her? She was decked in her finest apparel from head to toe. She wore a bright, fluorescent blue dress with matching high heels, and "bling-bling" that could blind a person. The beat up station wagon that set beside her, though, was enough to question whether or not the four of us should accept her ride. But we did--as well as several other passengers, including her two children she picked up along the way to take to a concert on the beach. She entertained us all the way to our destination, a true delight to have met. Perhaps that's why she was the only cabby's name I have ever remembered.

Then, of course, there are the cabbies I would rather forget! Very early one Thanksgiving morning, Terry and I were flying out of Dulles Airport for Montana. I had called the previous night for a taxi to ensure our driver would be on time. We waited and waited--I called again. He was late! When he finally arrived and we were headed for the airport, he apologized for being late. He told us his tale of being stopped by a state trooper for "speeding." (Oh, great!! and I wanted him to speed to the airport!) He was from Peru and had only been driving for two weeks, but at least he could speak fairly good English and knew the way to the airport--unlike so many other cabbies in the D.C. area. Of course, my giving directions to the airport or to our home ensured me that it would be the shortest, quickest route--a good thing!!

In some cases, though, there is no short, quick route to my destination as I discovered one evening as I flew into Albany, NY, the closest airport to my conference site, Saratoga Springs. What? There is no shuttle? I grimaced at the thought of a 40-mile taxi ride, but hoped that the woman cabby would prove to be my best bet. Wrong again! She drove 50 m.p.h. in what I thought was a 70 m.p.h. zone the entire trip while sharing the history of the area, pointing out the sites to see along the way (which were impossible to see in the dark), and complaining about her relatives. I had never in my life spent $75 plus a tip (which my boss always said should be at least $10) for a taxi. What I found rather infuriating, though, was that the return taxi ride to Albany was only $55, plus a tip. Grrrrrrrrrr....

A month later, my boss and I were waiting at the airport in Gulfport/Biloxi, MS, for a flight home only to discover that there was a problem with the plane. Word came hours later that a part was being flown in; but it wasn't certain when the plane would be repaired, tested, and ready for flight. (Thank you, American Airlines for that information, which I could have lived without!) Meanwhile, the majority of the passengers were looking for alternate flights, my boss and I included. She was becoming quite frustrated because it was a holiday weekend, and she felt guilty that I was spending it in an airport trying to get home. She suggested that I check for any flights out of Mobile, AL. "WHAT?" She wanted me to take a taxi to Mobile (approximately 50+ miles) to catch a flight. This woman had rocks in her head!! No way was I going to do that--I'd rather wait. I wasn't THAT fond of cabbies! And luckily within the hour, I was headed home, leaving her behind to catch the next flight.

I have to admire those NYC cabbies who are the greatest multi-taskers I've ever seen. They can continually honk their horn, yell at drivers who nonchalantly go about their business, and magically turn a 4-lane street into 6 or 7 lanes. However, my favorite NYC cabby is without a doubt Ben Bailey, who maneuvers those streets as if he owns them. If he had stopped for me, I more than likely would have been kicked to the curb.

If you're planning a trip to the BIG APPLE, you might consider looking at this website:


Practice makes perfect, and good luck finding that ultimate cabby!

P.S. I'm fortunate if I get perhaps 7 out of 10 questions correct on these quizzes, and they're multiple choice. I can just imagine what my score would be without any help. If I am ever lucky enough to have Ben as my cabby, "Please, Ben, kick me ever so gently." :)

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