A couple of people asked to see the piece, so they could see for themselves. Here it is then: the word for word exchange I had with the cab driver who came to bring me to the bus station.
Maybe a column shouldn’t have as much real life stuff in it but I thought the opposite was true. Anyway, here she is:
Because I had to be in the city to catch a bus at 10am, I ordered a taxi for 9:00 and was out in front of my house at 8:55.
With an hour to traverse the eight miles to the bus station I felt happy and relaxed, the way you do in a cab when the cabbie is friendly and present, which is to say NOT talking on his phone the whole time.
In fact, this cabbie did use his phone once when it rang but only because he saw that it was his wife, just waking for the day. He told her it was raining out so she should just turn over and go back to sleep and who wouldn’t be happy to overhear a cozy domestic exchange like that?
Plus, friendly? He was sure friendly.
As he wove deftly through the braiding lanes of traffic on this expressway, he chatted about this and that: About how he had just been on this road two hours ago, bringing a woman to the airport. About how his stop-for-a-drink-after-work pals were all cops and firefighters. About how he graduated high school back in the 70s. 1974 to be exact.
“I know about the Class of ’74! “ I said. “Did you have shoulder-length hair and go to the prom in a tux with a ruffled shirt and a velvet bow tie?”
“Who knows about the tux, it’s so long ago, but yup to the shoulder-length hair!”
“And did they play Stairway to Heaven for all its endless length including that part in the middle when the tempo changes and you can’t slow-dance to it at all?”
“No doubt!” he said and broke into song. “Dah dah DAH dah dah dah, dah dah DAHdah dah dah and they’re buy-ee-ing a stair-eh-way to Heah-ev-en.”
We rode in a remembering silence a while before I recalled what had just happened on this road the week before.
“What a shame it was about the intoxicated driver in the Caddy who hit that trucker so hard he went over one of these guard rails and fell 40 feet down onto the spur beneath!”
“Another few inches and he would have fallen the full 400 feet to that street.”
“But he’s OK, I read.”
“If you call a broken back and neck OK. You sound like the driver. ‘Well he didn’t DIE,’ she said when she heard about his injuries.”
“No, I know! A broken neck and back is awful-”
But he was still talking:
“I also hear that-“
I wanted to interrupt him but by the time I saw what had happened it was already too late. In all the talk he had exited right when he should have stayed straight and now here we were in the long, no-turning-around tunnel that finally brings you up at…
“You know I’m actually going to the train station, right?” I said in a small voice.
“Dang! “ he exclaimed. “ I have NEVER done this before!”
He went on. “Not to worry though. Watch this!” - and he orbited those airport roads faster than a hamster orbits his hamster wheel, dove into a second tunnel, surfaced four miles farther south, shot a mile and a half back north and landed me at the bus station at last with 20 minutes to spare.
“I’ll eat the $5 toll for the airport,” he said, but I gave that same amount right back to him as a tip.
Because really how could I not? If there was ever a case of dual responsibility for that proverbial wrong turn, this was surely it.”
And now, just for fun, that very song and a typical couple from the good old class of ’74: