Wanna talk Surprise, folks? Here's the Pow! moment of the month, perhaps the year:
I am Surprised, shocked,
that more people
aren't KILLED in taxis.
I take cabs often. To and from airports. And other than L.A. where I rent a car to get around, cabs are my intra-city mode of travel while on the road.
Last week, to and from and within Toronto, my cab experiences solidified the calloused stereotypes that have formed within my ever-the-more-enraged psyche.
In less than 48 hours, I experienced...no, I ENDURED consistent tailgating, rapid crossing of double-white lines as if they were imaginary, all while being bathed in the ever-present glow of the "Repair Engine Now!" light. (Translation guys: "Repair Your Engine. Now!")
All this mayhem was made even more mayhemic thanks to the constant downpour of rain that accompanied each trip. Somehow, precipitation seems to bring out superpowers in cab drivers. Unlike most drivers who use such primitive tools as windshield wipers to see, like Superman, cabbies' X-Ray Vision can cut right through the opaque onslaught of water that coats their windows like Vaseline. And when they actually activate the wipers, at my steadfast insistence, they do so on intermittent mode, and of course, on the longest delay between blade sweeps.
But the effect of mere rain alone paled when coupled with the fog that whitewashed windshields from the inside out. And when I asked "Don't you have a defogger?" all I got back, incredulously, was the single word answer "Yes." (Ambiguity is indeed the Devil's volleyball; next time, I will rephrase my question as a sentence and demand it turned on.)
Perhaps cabbies are bred with better eyesight and reflexes than mere mortals. But despite my admiration for these impressive superhuman gifts, I truly believe that these guys should be closely observed by anonymous Road Marshalls, "secret shoppers" if you will, who will report any or all misdeeds to the Cab Company owners, the media, the government, and to Satan...who obviously made a lucrative collective bargain with these lunatics to keep them alive.
If I make a call to Visa or Dell, it's monitored for security and customer service reasons. Well-intentioned, but overkill in most cases. I say monitor less credit cards or computers and more menaces to society! Bring the boys and girls home from Bangalore and set them loose in the back seats on the mean streets of Canada!
If there is any consolation, it's that cabs are marked by an illuminated sign atop their roofs. Like a modern-day Scarlett Letter, these dome lights signal "Here Drives An Idiot!," allowing the more sane on the road to keep their distance or stay home. The one piece of advice I gave my sons during Driver's Ed. was:
"There are three certainties in life:
Death, Taxes..and that the taxi driver
next to you on the road will do something stupid.
It's a given, not a maybe.
Know this, stay away from 'em and stay safe."
If pigeons are "rats with wings," then cab drivers are "pigeons with cars."
From here on in, I wear a suit of clear plastic spikes.