Driving Aunt Mable

I’ve conducted research in a few different states and have come to the conclusion that riding in a taxi should be considered an extreme sport.

Taxi cab sign

Most cab drivers not only drive defensively, but get defensive when anyone goes only a minimum of 10 mph over the speed limit or fails to fly through yellow lights and stop signs.

But looking past the germ factor and high risk of whiplash and death, I actually kind of enjoy taking a cab when I travel. Not to generalize, but most big city drivers are foreign and have a really interesting story about coming to America from a war-torn town to escape and find a better life.

I’m nosy and I ask.

That’s what made my last cab ride to the airport in Dallas a bit interesting, as instead of the skinny guy from India who offered me sunflower seeds and chanting music earlier in the week, I had Aunt Mable.

When the valet at the hotel opened up the door to the minivan taxi, I was presented with an extremely large black woman dressed as if she were going to the prom, squeezed in behind her seatbelt like a pillow wrapped in twine.

She swiveled her head back to look at me, large rainbow-colored hoop earrings swinging side to side, and pointed with a florescent colored nail. “You ready to ride with Aunt Mable, sweetheart?”

I’m not going to lie. I was a little excited, as this one seemed like she was fun.

I was putting on my seatbelt when Aunt Mable turned down the gospel music to say, “Sweet baby Jesus! Tell me you buckled up back there. Safety first, sweetheart, safety first. Mm-hmm.”

This is what we call “foreshadowing.”

As I settled in and we pulled away, it became clear that according to Aunt Mable, the Dallas highways at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning magically transform into the Autobahn. While I couldn’t see it from the back, I imagined a pudgy lead foot stuffed into a sequined pump like a sausage putting the pedal to the metal.

We quickly zoomed to 60, 70 and then 80 mph through the darkness, making small talk as the Whataburgers and John Deere dealerships flew by in a blur. I found out she was from Dallas and “praise sweet baby Jesus,” had six kids. She found out I was in town for the balloon convention and told me she saw it on the news, asking if they made those fancy dresses in a size to fit Aunt Mable.

I’m still not sure she was kidding.

After breaking the sound barrier, we arrived at the airport. Since my airline had three terminals and I was unsure which one I was at, she decided we would stop and ask the skycap because, “You choose to ride with Aunt Mable, you get the whole package, sweetheart. No ma’am, you not gonna wander around that airport like a lost puppy.”

So after the skycap directed us to my terminal and I paid, she handed me my receipt and a butterscotch candy from a bag she kept in between the seats—along with a fire extinguisher, an air freshener and what looked to be a Harlequin romance novel.

“You’re on your own with the bags,” Aunt Mable informed me. “That ain’t part of the package sweetheart, as the good lord done blessed me with good taste but a bad hip!”

So I grabbed my bags from the back and watched her cab speed off into the rising sun like a superhero bumblebee before preparing to strip down for my walk through security.

Safety first, sweetheart, safety first.

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42 responses to “Driving Aunt Mable

  1. I love travelling by taxi. Like you, I ask lots of questions – I really enjoy learning about other people’s lives. I have never encountered an Aunt Mable, however, I’m jealous! She sounds like a wonderful woman!

  2. We got a cab once in Miami that made NYC cabs look like 90 year old women driving Edsel. Made it from the business district to the airport in like 3 minutes. Mike is still in therapy.

  3. Aunt Mable sounds immense! I’d be half captivated and half scared by such an experience I think.

  4. I don’t travel by taxi much – but if the drivers were all like Aunt Mabel I would be tempted to change that!

  5. Did you get her card? I would be calling every time I went to TX because she sounds AMAZING.

    My college town was small, so by chance, I ended up in this one guy’s cab maybe 4 or 5 times over the course of a year. He talked so much about his life, I would get in and immediately ask things like how the new baby was doing. I really do listen!

    Also, one cab ride home was full of “why does he do this to me and what should I do?!?!” drama. The cabbie felt the need to give his opinion and to also tell us his thoughts on the meaning of life. Which included him getting to our stop, turning off the car in the middle of the road, and continuing his speech that lasted another 10 minutes. He was so excited and passionate, we felt bad to interrupt.

    • Ha! I have the same driver here in Michigan that picks me up when I have to leave for super early morning flights. We do the same thing, as I know all about his daughter and their vacation plans, etc. No drama though. That sounds like a wee bit too much for a simple cab ride, but considering he was behind the wheel, I suppose you had no choice.

  6. Hahahhaa cab drivers in general terrify me with their driving. But Aunt Mable sounds kinda fun, frankly..

  7. Fabulous post. I’ve got to get in a cab with that woman.

    Good pick for #findingthefunny.

    Cheers!

  8. Hah, I love her. Most of the cab drivers I’ve encountered are cranky and/or refuse to pick me up from my house because my brother once thought it would be a good idea to call four different companies and just take the first one that arrived, giving them the name “Bob”. Now, whenever I call for a taxi, I am interrogated about whether or not I am “Bob” because they have all been instructed not to pick “him” up. I’d choose Aunt Mable any day.

  9. What a fun post! I love your descriptions of Aunt Mabel!

  10. Holy crap, I am in love with Aunt Mable. I want to go to Dallas just to ride in her cab. I always enjoy conversing with cab drivers as well. I love learning about people.

    I laughed at your mention of Whataburger, as I HAD to eat at one when I went to Dallas. And I love how people are all, “It’s not wut a burger, it’s wottaburger.” Weird!

    I also loved, “as the good lord done blessed me with good taste but a bad hip!” I sometimes wish I were a Baptist just so I could say things like this.

  11. Aunt Mable is my hero.

  12. AAh, you’re always good for a belly laugh. I can just see Aunt Mable, your description fleshed her out beautifully, so to speak. I couldn’t help myself!
    Have a great rest of the week Abby, good you’re home safe. Can’t lose my favorite writer to no speed demon bumble bee!

  13. If you would’ve told me I could’ve been your taxie cabbie (my post today)~ free ride =)

  14. I love this story so very much.

  15. One of, if not the very best thing you’ve ever written. There’s perspective, humor, and knowledge. It’s amazing what a cab ride would offer.

    excellent column

  16. Every time I ride in a cab, it usually means I’m slightly to moderately wasted, so as you can imagine, they tend to be pretty entertaining. And by entertaining I mean highly embarrassing.

  17. Oh man! I *heart* Aunt Mable! What a great story, Abby!

  18. Aunt Mable ROCKS!!!!!! A few months ago I was in Chapel Hill, NC and had a cab driver from Nigeria. He actually had the cab on 3 wheels navigating the streets trying to avoid the crazy ass drivers. I was never so glad to get to my destination (a wine bar) in my life.

  19. kelleysbreakroom

    Mmmmmm…that Aunt Mabel sound like a sweetheart, mmmmhmmm. She sound like a angel. (You know the bad grammar is on purpose, right?) I would’ve been excited to ride with her, too!

  20. “Super hero bumble bee.” So great! That balloon convention looks interesting.

  21. Going to Dallas for a conference in June. Hope I get aunt mabel as my cabbie. Also wish I could say “sweet baby jesus” but not sure a white Canadian can pull it off….

  22. Buckle up buck a roo, buckle up.

  23. She’s everything I want to be when I grow up!

  24. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    That is amazing! Was that not the best moment of your life?? I’ve never had a female cab driver at all, not that I’ve been in a ton of cabs, but I enjoy talking to them as well. Pretty much, I just like to talk to strangers though.

  25. Ha!! Everything IS bigger in Texas! Including this larger than life woman! But I think you meant the autobahn- German highway, right? Audubon is nature….

  26. Too funny, Abby. You gotta love her. Have a great weekend! Laurel

  27. I am painfully jealous of this experience, and now love a stranger named Aunt Mabel.

  28. This is a great story. I’m also one of those people who likes to talk to taxi drivers, but I have never been lucky enough to get a character like Aunt Mable.

  29. I’m too inhibited to talk in these situations, so I’m glad you were in her taxi and not me, so this great story wouldn’t go to waste.

    My most disappointing taxi moment: The one time I needed to get a taxi from the airport in my hometown (Erie, PA), I was second in line and there were no taxis waiting. A taxi arrived, the man in front of me took it and I proceeded to wait 20 minutes for the next taxi to arrive. And it was the same one. My hometown only has one taxi.

  30. Aunt Mable sure sounds like a trip. I’m not sure if I’m charmed or creeped out. 😉

    I have a disappointingly low number of cab stories. But maybe that’s better for my high blood pressure.

  31. I have had some nail-biting cab rides, but never interesting drivers like you have! Probably because I don’t ask questions…this was awesome!

  32. Oh my!!! I loved this! I hearted your descriptions of Aunt Mable too! Awesome writing. So glad I found you via Not Mommy’s Blog Hop!

    Blessings~*

  33. I LOVE this post. Sometimes I am cranky after a germ-infested airplane journey and want to be left alone so I give off the “leave me alone” vibe and hope it works. But more often than not I enjoy talking to whatever crazy person is driving the cab. On occasion they are not lunatics, and I enjoy speaking with them very much. Usually they ARE crazy, and I enjoy it even more. Oh yeah? I ask. Tell me more!

    The taxi drivers in Ireland, FYI are a f*ing tribute to society. So often those drivers are nuts too, but you are so much more likely to get someone who knows a lot about politics, history, etc. Maybe not in Dublin, but outside of Dublin in rural, remote areas? You’re going to get some scholars. I’m not being sarcastic. I’ve had so many taxi rides with drivers outside of Dublin that I would totally sit down and have a pint and a long chat with. In Dublin – oh jesus. Tell people you’re Canadian.

  34. My goodness, how extremely annoyed I would be travelling with that lady!!! I prefer minding my own business when I travel. Generally I don’t mind taking the cab though. It’s a perfect solution for my laziness…

    • Annoyed? Not at all. I actually initiated the conversation as I like talking to new people, so you probably would have been annoyed traveling with me!

  35. Praise the Lord and His sweet baby Jesus! What a funny post!

  36. See, you came up with a great post from your recent travels. This was hilarious. You did a fantastic job of describing Aunt Mable. I can just see her. Glad you made it to the airport in one piece. What a character!

  37. Ha! At least it wasn’t boring!

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