I love taxi
men drivers (sorry K8) I really do. I mean I really would be a shut in if it wasn't for taxi drivers and the wonderful service they offer. No matter if it's a Ford Mondeo or a Skoda Octavia I'm always happy to see them. Tonight's S-Class Mercedes driving mentalist pushed my love of taxi drivers a bit though. I knew the ten minute journey home was going to be a treat the moment I sat down. I should have spotted the tell tale signs before I got in, manic stare from the window, go faster stripes, big shiny alloys, and the fact that he was revving the engine as I walked towards the car.
That'll be £12.50 mate...."Where yis for mate?" he asked as we sped away. I assumed he was trying to break the land speed record as we took off like Richard Noble's Thrust2 machine.
wah, no tip.....?
wah, no tip.....?
"Lisburn Road please." I answered as I scrambled for my seat belt.
"Reeeet." And for some reason he went completely the other way. I've learned the hard way never to question taxi drivers about their chosen route to your destination. I don't like it when people question my methods so out of professional courtesy I said nothing. But a moment later I found myself hurtling towards the North of the city quicker than I really wanted to be.
"Eh, sorry driver..." I was nervous for so many reasons ".....but where are you going?"
"Lisburn Road der fella. Why do youse wanna drive?"
"No no no." Fuck I've gone and upset the mentalist who's doing the best part of 70 in the city centre.
"This here's the quackest way." Says he. I pondered explaining to him how ludicrous his proposition was that the quickest (quackest) way to go South was by heading North but thought better of it. I was on an adventure whether I liked it or not.
Then his phone went. Not that someone was phoning him but rather someone, (probably Anto, Minto, Dorzo, or Jaunty not that I want to stereotype but it is easier) had sent him a message. Our hero couldn't wait. So he didn't. And he wasn't gonna let a little thing like the law, well he was breaking about five laws as it was so what would another matter, or the fact that he was driving like a man with death wish get in the way of him reading said text message.
So there I was in a blinged up Mercedes careering through Belfast city centre heading the wrong way from my house with an angry mentalist taxi driver reading a text message on his phone. Who needs to pay for adventure holidays when you can get your own white knuckle experience with one call to your local taxi firm?
"Fucking beezer wah." He laughed as he read the message and then showed it to me. He swiveled in his seat and stuck the bloody phone in my face! Mother of Jesus is there any chance?! It was from his son who was saying night-night. I nodded politely as I gripped the really rather swish leather seat for dear life. I guessed that his son has been in the car with his dad and even he realised that daddy may not make it home one night considering the way he drives.
Thankfully though he didn't reply to the message. For a moment I imagined the last thing I would hear on this Earth being the clickty click of him tapping on his mobile phone as we smashed into a wall.
We rounded a few corners. Smashed, not literally, our way down tiny and unheard off alleys and back streets and after a moments blind panic as I faced the very wrong end of town for a boy like me I found myself back in the leafy end of South Belfast. This was indeed a relief. There were other cars now so I, wrongly, assumed this would chasten his driving. Not our hero, no way. He was spurred on by the "challenge" of other people, other lives. He dodged in and out and up their asses. Charming chap.
Then his phone went again. He plugged in his Bluetooth device and answered the call. It was a chum of his. I only got his side of the call. I pictured another customer in another taxi somewhere on the streets of Belfast gripping on for dear life too. Bear in mind this driver is from Belfast.....
"Aye mate, I maw rite. Wassa mar way you?"
"Aye me too." He glanced at me which left me rather unnerved.
"Har's yer mawn gettin on?"
"Aye they hard him. S'what I wus told."
"Sarong wa at? Though you laked him?"
Christ by this point we had passed the turn off to my street so I had to interrupt this meeting of minds.
"Eh next on the right please."
"Righ..gotta go. Nah I'm tarred. Wont be out fer long."
"£7.80 mate" he said turning to me.
Home, sweet sweet home. I nearly did a pope and kissed the ground but that don't fly round here either. Jesus the driving was rough but the conversation was worse. Still, it wasn't my worst taxi experience. That happened 12 years and four days ago. I'll save that for Friday......