Tales of nonsense and items of little interest, sometimes true, always poorly thought through. Less sophisticated than most newspapers and magazines.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Up until a few weeks ago I had never been in a taxi in the States. I don't know why I found this mind numbingly boring fact interesting, but it seemed odd that in 12 years I had never had the need for one. I have been very lucky in many respects, owning my own transportation is one of them. I had been in airport shuttles, which are kind of the same but with less pressure and stress. There are usually other people on board with you and it's easy to start up a conversation to pass the time, unless they are non English speaking types, in which case it's becomes more of a game.

So, I'm now working up in Northern California. As I live in LA, this involves weekly air travel and taxi rides. I have to say that the standard of hackney carriages in San Jose is woeful, every single one I get in stinks and many scare the shit out of me, the drivers are, perhaps unsurprisingly horrible and are possibly the source of the smells that seem have been absorbed by the headliner in every last vehicle. I usually like the smell of curry, as you know, but there is a time and a place for it. The backseat of an 89 Crown Victoria is not the one.

Monday morning. I get into a cab, not one of my own choosing though, you are directed to the first one in line by an airport employee, presumably to avoid fighting between cabbies. To disapprove of the chosen vehicle or it's driver is probably more trouble than it is worth so I just get in. Immediately the smell is like a punch, full in the face. A mixture of cabbage, socks and old bologna. A faded magic tree swings from the rear view mirror, it's pine fresh scent long since spent. I try to lower the window for fresh air but it's either broken or locked and I immediately start to feel ill. I give the driver my location and ask him how his morning is so far. "Very good, very good" he says. I decide to offer an observation on the weather, "A bit nippy this morning" I say. "Very good, very good" he answers again. "How is traffic?" I ask. "Very good, very good"......fuck! I give up.
As we approach the freeway entrance, someone cuts along the right side of the cab and makes a left without stopping, he bangs on the horn and yells "You are fucking cowboy!!" then he turns to me and repeats for the sake of clarification, "Fucking cowboy!!". I notice that his turban is not on straight, I am surprised and curious, I always thought that they took great care when applying turbans. I have never noticed a crooked turban on anyone before, but it was early on a Monday morning so I suppose he could be forgiven.
We get on the freeway and as we speed up I notice for the first time that he has a semi violent twitch which seemed to occur every 20-30 seconds and which caused him to pull the cab to the left every time one hit. Coupled with the smell, now amplified because he had the heater on full blast, the sudden lurches to the left were causing me to feel extremely car sick. How can they let this fucker drive a cab? I ask him if he could open a window, the fucker opens his window like two inches and tells me "broken...it is broken....will not go more down." Great....

Luckily, being a holiday for much of the country, traffic was light and the horror only lasted 15 minutes before we arrived at the office. Swallowing big gulps of fresh air I got out of the cab and shakily handed over the fare...."keep the change mate" I tell him, "have a good one, drive safely". "Very good, very good" I hear him saying as I slammed the door shut and on legs like snapped candles ,walked towards the building. I would be passing on breakfast....