October 8, 2006
My general mode of transportation is the public route. Most often you’ll find me waiting at a bus stop, riding the L or walking before you’ll catch me hailing a cab. I have friends who are cab people. They more often than not will forsake a two block walk for a two second cab ride. I am certainly not one of them. I do, however, have a rule that I stay off public transportation after 10 p.m. I stick to this rule especially on weekends where I may find myself heading home past midnight. It’s these times where I take cabs because it is so much safer than public transit. Usually, that is.
I found myself on Saturday night heading home at 1 a.m. after movies at the Brew and View followed by drinks. It was late when I parted ways with my friends, so I hopped in the first cab I saw and told the man where to go.
Usually, I sit back in the cab and enjoy the ride home in silence. I figure that cabbies have hauled around a ton of people already and who am I to think they care about the mundane details of my day. But occasionally I get chatty cabbies, and I will participate in the banter. Sometimes it leads to humorous conversations - my favorite being a marriage proposal by one cabbie. I was wearing a cowgirl outfit at the time and, yes, it was Halloween. And yes, I think my outfit may have had something to do with the proposal.
I sank into the back of the cab, and my cabbie asked how my night was. I replied good, but that I was glad to be heading home. It didn’t appear he was going to make an effort to continue the conversation, so I zoned out.
A few seconds later though, I noticed he was still talking and in somewhat of a hostile voice. I tuned back in to try and clue myself into what part of the conversation I missed. Unfortunately, his accent was a bit thick and the only word I could clearly make out was “f*cking,” which he used repeatedly. I also then noticed this cab was racing down the street, and the faster the cab went the faster he talked and the more times he said “f*cking.”
I’m not going to lie. I was a little scared.
I was able to piece together amidst his profanities that he had been recently pulled over by the cops and, I assume, harassed for a bit. I sat forward trying to act as if I were at rapt attention and sympathetic to his situation. In reality, I kept my eyes toward the road, keeping watch for unsuspecting pedestrians in his path.
“The f*cking cops had me get out of my car…. and they f*ucking… for a while… f*cking cops… do I look like I f*cking… gave me a f*cking ticket… so that’s why now I gotta to make a full stop because otherwise those f*cking cops are gonna pull me over again… you know I can’t just f*cking stop like this… I got to f*cking make a full stop.”
It was that last part I remember because in order to show me how he was no longer allowed to stop, he slammed on his brakes, and I flew into the glass partition.
He was speeding down Broadway, at am I guessing at least 10 miles above the speed limit, when I praised God that we were finally approaching my street. Afraid in his blinding rage he would miss my street, I raised my voice in the middle of his rant that my street was next, on the left.
“Oh, I know sweetie. I’ve been driving f*cking cabs for 15 years now. I know where your street is.”
We finally got in front of my building. I told him to stop there and my ride of terror came to a screeching halt. I leafed through my wallet searching for another dollar. I was a little short. I had enough for the ride, but not a tip. Normally, I would just ask the cabbie to run my card (because most cabs take debit/credit cards now), but I wanted to get out of there. I apologized and told him I thought I had another dollar and began rounding up my change.
“Don’t worry about it sweetie. It’s ok. Don’t worry. You just have a good night.”
I said thanks give him my $5 bill and some change, wished him the best of luck and scrambled out of the car.
Standing on the relative quiet of my street as my manic cabbie sped away, I questioned my late night public transit theory. Would it really have been any less safe to board a bus? Probably not. Road rage is terrifying, even moreso when you’re subjected to it at the mercy of a deranged cabbie.
The lesson learned here: Never drive angry - especially when you have paying customers in your cab.