Monday, May 14, 2007


I have been a passenger in a taxicab more this past weekend than I have in the past 7 years. The Queen Mary is fragile right now, her universal joints about to break. Thus I am loathe to take her too far, not wanting to risk her dropping her guts in the middle of I-35, leading to complications I do not want to face. Thus for my trip to St Louis and a previous night on the town, I hailed a cab.

I wish they were not so freaking expensive, I spent enough to buy a cab or two, as I really enjoy being chauffeured around. And you meet some interesting people.

My cabbie on Fri eve was a pleasant fellow from Haiti, who admitted he had 7 kids here and a stray son in Paris, France. He was chatty, talking about the weather, traffic and his life. When I mentioned I spoke French, off he went. My somewhat rusty, now Spanish tinged, French came back and we had a pleasant conversation. I gave him the wrong address but he quickly found the place I was looking for; we were on the wrong side of the street.

Saturday, as luck would have it, I got another French speaking cabbie, this time from Senegal. Impressed that I spoke French, knew where Senegal was and that the capital was Dakar, he went on asking me where I had been, how I came to live in such a fancy building, how long I had been in Kansas City and how the hell I knew anything about Senegal. I was a bit annoyed that he took the long way around downtown, thus adding a dollar or two the already ridiculous fare, so he did not get a real good tip. He also had no change. Nice fellow though.

I could not convince my son Daniel to drive 20 miles round trip to take me the 5 miles from my hotel to the airport in St Louis, thus another taxi ride. Number 3 was 100% USA and used to live in Kansas City. Regaling me with a story about him insulting an woman of a known Mafioso while selling some cleaning agent door to door, the trip was all too short, but still expensive. Upon reading an article on how Mafia types revered their mothers and women yet killed without mercy, I wondered about his sanity.

The ride back from KCI to the Towers was not as exciting. The cabbie was nice, definitely not native to the USA but not real talkative. I pegged him as being from Nigeria perhaps; he had an Islamic name, but did not look Arab. He was concerned about running out of gas so we made a side trip to a most interesting gas station. You could not pull through to the pump; you had to back in or out. I do not think I had ever seen a station like that in all my travels. Thoughtfully, he turned off the meter while the old Crown Vic, badly in need of an alignment, new tires or both, gobbled fuel. He also went the shortest way to my place and even adjusted the fare as he went through downtown, not realizing a road that had been closed was now reopened after construction. He got a nice tip.

I am home now, and no more cab rides, I am broke!

No comments: