Wednesday, 9 July 2008

"I maw rite"...but only just.

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....
wah, no tip.....?


"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.

"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......

29 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Blondefabulous said...

OMG! Did you offer up any sacrifices to what ever diety you worship that you arrived in one piece??

Manuel said...

blondie: no but I was wondering who would get my stuff and who would tell the readers of my premature death.....

Medbh said...

Okay, I don't mean to unleash a barrage of comments about everyone's worst taxi but I had a dude take me from my mom's into the city many years ago and he took the longest route, drove like a motherfucker and my doors had locks that he controlled. I was jelly when I got out but recovered and threw $20. at him when he was trying to charge me double. I don't know where I got the courage.
Be careful, Manuel!

Medbh said...

Sorry K8! No offense!

Silverstar said...

The taxi drivers in Seattle are sedate by comparison. My worst experience has been waiting eons for a taxi, and then having the driver refuse to pick me up because I have my service dog with me. And I'd told the dispatcher she would be with me. Totally illegal of course, but safer than driving with an idiot.

Manuel said...

medbh: it has to be said most are fine.....but some are just super fucking mental.....

silverstar: aye but where's the fun in that....damn sure I felt alive b the time I got home...!

bendersbetterbrother said...

I got Osama Bin Laden at Manchester airport on Monday. Spittin' image he was. Wore his turban Pashtun styli and it was white meaning he was a leader (Imams wear white too).
I know some Farsi so he was fine, asked what the weather was like at home and even took my BoI note though he did ask if it was OK.
I normally blame the rain on Bush but thought it wise to avoid bringing him into it this time.
Realised it was the anniversary of 7/7 later when I checked his receipt.

Unlike yours he drove very carefully, perhaps because of what sounded like a gas cylinder rolling around his boot.

I tipped. Then ran.

Manuel said...

bbb: oh that's all just so wrong.....bet ya he was thinking, "Bloody Paddy.....bet he;s got a bomb in his bag......"

daisyfae said...

scariest public transport? hotel shuttle van driver in Philadelphia. at the end of the ride, i applauded. He'd actually driven on a sidewalk, and honked at the pedestrians scrambling to get out of his way!

Manuel said...

daisyfae: just like the movies! any stacked cardboard boxes?

MJ said...

You know those dangling hand straps you see in the movies in the back seats of New York City cabs?

I found out the hard way why they're there.

Hold on tight for the ride of your life.

Old Knudsen said...

This spide was no doubt ex special farces, Washington doesn't know the best way to get through the jungle sometimes a - b has to go through x, ah you civvies no nought.

toast said...

mmmm belfast taxi drivers... my bestest* experience of them was about 10 years ago in belfast harbour with my then girlfriend, getting off the ferry and seeing the unmistakable skyline of belfast in flames, riot season was in full effect and bonfires planned and unplanned lit up the night - i can't remember the exact reason for this, garvaghy? but this one was as bad as i experinced in belfast with all parts kicking off and backpackers and travellers from all over europe getting off the ferry and looking terrified as the air was filled with sirens, and the sound of taxi drivers shouting "25 quid to get out of the city tonight!, better take it, only way out of the city tonight"... one particular norwegian couple of backpackers were terrified - where the hell was 'out of the city' - no such specifics were ever given, just promises of the docks being burnt down in minutes unless they paid their 25 and 'got out of the city'





*worstest

fatmammycat said...

7 bleeding 80? That wouldn't get you from my front door to my gate down here! And you got to go on a tour of the city!

B said...

what fatmammycat said there^.

I hate Taxi drivers, always wind up talking about the GAA to them for some reason.

paddy said...

Taxis are weird. They're either driven by the angriest racists on earth or poor lads who've been here five minutes and can't remember the name of the city they're in let alone where anything is. Makes you wonder what the atmosphere is like back at the depot when they stop for a cuppa at the end of the night.

Manuel said...

mj: yes I might start sitting in the back......gotta give you more of a chance eh....?

old k: as you very well know nobody goes any where near north belfast unless you really really need to.....

toast: out of the city? poleglass....or twinbrook...ah Drumcree, such happy days....there was a real sense of "cammuinity" then, us v them uns.....

fmc: I lied, it was £6.60

b: not in belfast you don't.....no politics, no gaa/rugby/scottish football....it's all very bland unless they are a mentalist....

paddy: depot: you mean kfc.......or outside the posh houses on the lisburn road.....

dave said...

And I thought taxi drivers only take tourists on detours when they don't know the city.

God I hate them all. They think that by stopping in the middle of the street and putting on hazard warning lights, it gives them the right to hold up traffic while they drop off/ pick up a fare.

Fuckers.

Conan Drumm said...

So, is 7.80/6.60 the usual fare?

How much did you tip?

Manuel said...

Conan: £1.40......the standard for getting me home alive.....

Dave: they really are a law amongst themselves.....

Mr. DNA said...

"Ford Mondeo or a Skoda Octavia" Wha?
These are real cars? The second one sounds like something one of my geeky friends would mutter while trying to explain to me why Doctor Who is not terrible.

Glad you made it home in one piece.

jen said...

Think I caught a taxi ride with that guy's cousin in Edinburgh.

Plus, they really jack up the prices for the tourists during the Festival over there.

Scariest taxi drive? In Rome, in a cab-that-wasn't-a-cab but just some old geezer making some cash. Don't ask why we got in. We thought he was legit to start with. That notion soon faded as he tried to kill us in the rush-hour traffic. And got very, very cagey whenever he saw a cop car.

Anonymous Boxer said...

Yes, but was he snorting cocaine the entire time?

See, that's the ride that convinced me New York Cabs were scary.

I'm glad you're home safe... next time use your bike!

K8 the Gr8 said...

@ Medbh; Ha! None taken, don't blame you!!

I'm a new breed of taxi-driver. I rate peaceful driving and cheap fares pretty highly and have managed to keep the scenic routes to the minimum which is DAMN hard for someone who loves driving.

You know what'll pop your muffin? I round the fares down... if it's €9.20 I round it down to a clean €9. People are so surprised they tip me 20%!

Reverse psychology, people. Ka-ching.

Manuel said...

mr dna: oh they are real....very real....only just though

jen: I'm not sure that legit taxis in italy are an better...

boxer: no but I'd say he is no stranger to it....

k8: My favourite taxi driver in this town is a woman.....she is chatty but not overbearing, and turns the meter of if the traffic's bad! brilliant!

K8 the Gr8 said...

Actshirly the meter stops pretty much when the car goes below 21mph, but you didn't hear that from me.

Anonymous said...

I presume you were mocking the Australian accent along with taxi drivers in general.
You may shove your racism up your most posterior orifice, mate.

Manuel said...

anonymous: dear anonymous I have to assume that you have never heard the dulcet tones of the good people of belfast. There is no mention of Australians anywhere in this post......good grief you are a bit paranoid! those were belfast accents I was doing......you utter asshole.....and how very fucking dare you call me racist....mate

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