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.
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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