Sunday, April 01, 2007

I Want to be a Taxi Driver

The old Bimmer/Bummer/Beemer has been off the road for quite a while now, so we've been amassing lots of Frequent Near-Death-Experience Points in assorted taxis. Seriously, we added it up, we've been spending about dhs 1,000 a month for the privilege of booking taxis that never arrive, being driven on Sheikh Zayed Road by guys who think the stopping distance at 120 kph is half a metre and folks who got off the plane yesterday and do not know the way from anywhere to anywhere else.

Let it be said at this point that we've had lots of rides with competent drivers, and a few with outstanding ones. But you remember the scary ones, don't you.

I'm prompted to write this because our driver this morning was clearly an impatient headcase. He had been trying to overtake a particular car all the way down the dirt-track at the east side of The Gardens. I don't know why. But as we slip onto SZR, our driver hits the gas and is accelerating towards that car. They slide onto the highway at the same time, but neither can get into the second lane because of an approaching tanker. Nevertheless our driver is still accelerating. When the distance between him and the car in front is a couple of metres we scream at him to slow down. He does, but the laws of physics mean that we actually get to within less than half a metre of the car in front (and yes, the car in front was a Toyota). Our driver is seriously miffed. His manhood has been hurt. What is he supposed to do? There is tanker in next lane! Slow down, we say in unison. He really doesn't like this

I had thought of keeping a diary of all these taxi trips, just for fun or for legal purposes. Stuff like...did the taxi turn up at a reasonable time?...did the driver wear his seat belt?...did he answer his mobile phone without a hands-free?...could he actually drive safely?...did he have any kind of clue about where things are?...was the car not too smelly?... etcetera.

I know that taxi drivers get an appallingly crap deal. I mean it's worse than crap, it forces lots of them to work stupidly long hours to make their daily quota, and that endangers the lives of passengers. But I don't think that excuses them from having a few skills:

1) Being able to drive. Safely. Sensibly.
2) Being courteous to passengers.
3) Knowing the layout of the city.
4) Not having dead things rotting somewhere in the car.

Not a lot to ask - one month's training max. But I doubt that many of them get any training at all.

I reckon I could do it. But not for the money that's on offer.

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