…was driving Diamond Taxi number 3091 yesterday at 10:45 a.m.. You get three guesses as to who his unfortunate passenger was.
I was originally going to bike to the spiffy-cool company where I’d interviewed before, but the sky was threatening to rain all over me. I decided to play it smart — or so I thought — and take a cab.
Me: Mowat Street, please. Just off King and a block east of Dufferin.
Cabbie: Uh, where?
Me: Mowat Street. Near King and Dufferin.
Me: Um, take me to the corner of King and Dufferin.
Cabbie: [looking at me as if I’ve asked for a ride to Mars] King?
Me: Yes. King Street. And Dufferin.
Cabbie: Oh, I’ve heard of that.
If you don’t live in Accordion City, you might not know that this is not an obscure little corner. Both King and Dufferin are major streets in central part of town; these streets are significant enought to each have their own subway station. The fact that the cabbie did not have this fundamental knowledge worried me.
I decided to take a little more charge than what would normally be necessary.
Cabbie: You think I should go south?
Me: Yes, because it’s in that direction.
Cabbie: Uh, okay.
Me: Better still, take Queen Street and go west on that. There’s construction on King. They’re re-laying the streetcar tracks.
The cabbie turned westward on Queen Street. There was the usual amount of morning traffic, the kind you’d expect to see on a major downtown street at about 11 in the morning.
Cabbie: Son of bitch. Fucking hell. Look at this traffic, la!
Me: It’s not so bad. It’s just a red light and a streetcar in front of us.
Cabbie: I will overtake.
The cabbie lead-footed it, trying to get around the streetcar on the right side, but there just wasn’t enough room to accelerate past it. We ended up stuck behind a lane of parked cars.
Cabbie: Stinking shit! I will take better route, la!
Me: Just overtake it when you have more roo–
The cabbie took a right turn onto Augusta and started going north — precisely the opposite direction of where I wanted to go (my destination was south and east of where we were). We ended up at the corner of Dundas and Denison, where he decided to stop — at a green light.
He pulled out a cell phone and placed a call. It was mostly in Hindi, but in the middle of it, he craned his neck to see the street signs.
“something something Dundas and Denison, la, something something something King something something Dufferin something something fucking traffic something something.”
He was phoning someone for directions. Probably not the dispatcher, but a family member or friend.
He hung up and turned to me.
Cabbie: King is south of here.
Me: That’s what I said.
Cabbie: I will U-turn and go south, la!
He turned the cab around, and we headed south. As we approached Queen Street, I suggested we take it west to Dufferin.
Me: Take Queen. There’s construction on King.
Cabbie: But King is farther south, la!
Me: Take…Queen..oh, crap.
It was too late. He turned south on Portland and headed right down to King Street and straight into the construction zone, where traffic had slowed to a crawl.
Cabbie: What the shit?! Fucking hell shit goddamn! I hate this city! I fucking hate fucking driving a fucking cab!
(It’s true. When you immigrate to Canada, the first new words you learn are the swear words; it’s just that the subtleties of arranging them takes a little longer to get. I wanted to use some myself.)
Me: [trying to remain calm] Take…Queen..Street…now. Turn…around…and…take…it.
Cabbie: But you wanted King, la!
Me: Queen..is…parallel…to…King. Take…it…to…Dufferin…and…turn…south.
I got on my phone and told Ross, whom I was going to meet, that I was going to be a little late. “I’m uh, stuck in traffic.” I was sorely tempted to say Hey, Ross, I’d have been there by now, but I’m stuck with a cab driver who has less intelligence than most trout I have eaten.
After making sure that he followed no directions but my own, we finally arrived. The cabbie looked at the sign in front of the building.
Cabbie: What is this place?
Me: It’s an Internet company.
Cabbie: You are into computers, la?
Me: Yes. I’m a programmer.
Cabbie: I am a programmer too! Perhaps you can get me a job here?
Me: Not if I have anything to do with it.
And with that, I walked out of the cab without paying. I entered the building, leaving the cabbie swearing incoherently and honking.
English as a Second F*cking Language. I swear by this book!