Ushered by an overworked conductor I made my way to the awaiting battered old vehicle, stickers strewn, broken and stripped. The taxis missing hub caps caused an uneasy unbalance; the station wagon leaning relaxed by the roadside. My thoughts crept up with my eyes…was this a taxi?
Fixated on my thoughts the driver leered over from the safety of this sanctuary, Broken English seemingly fitting his decrepit ride, “whereyou need to go?”
“Rose Bay” I announced, trying to mask my harrowing voice.
“Rose Bay? I know you come?” I nodded with hesitation agreeing to the shady reply.
After the drivers second attempt to unlock the rusty boot he continued to shake his head with frustration as I waited, heavy luggage in hand. The taxis behind me felt uneasy, the disorganised flurry continued to draw an uneasy attention. Suddenly the boot sprang open and an awkward smile hurried towards me.
My bags flew as they were propelled away, landing with a thickened thud into the open boot. Quietly I made my way to the rear passenger seat and calmed my anger. The driver jostled for rank as we exiting Sydney’s busy domestic airport, his fingers awkwardly flicked between the GPS and wheel as he typed in the destination.
Looking into his rear view mirror the broken conversation seemed pointless but I unwillingly engaged.
“Good trip?” He asked to which I detesting replied “yep”.
The minutes passed and foreign driver appeared in his element, comfortable in the wet, driving to the uneasy rhythm of rubber and metal etching its way into the dirty windscreen. The illuminated road twisted and turned before us until it disappeared into the darkened tunnel.
Almost as if on cue once we were bound to the narrowing darkness the driver tapped his disconnected GPS and murmured “which way, left or right?” It was then my heart sank knowing my instinct and guard had slipped, fooled by my long journey and jet lag – I had chosen the wrong cab.
“I have no idea” I replied in disgust. An uneasy silence lingered, turning to face me the driver replied, “no worry I know”.
Worry I did! Frustratingly the highway had become a distant memory in the ordeal. Side streets and traffic lights became a recurring norm. The rain had stopped and the streets were now full of water. Shaking his head the driver tapped the GPS; the small stagnate red dot lay entangled in a myriad of mess, yellow lines overlapped three to four fold. The trip was turning into a tourist bus nightmare, just without the therapeutic commentary of a Sydney-sider.
Coaching our way across Sydney we managed to traverse the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge for the second time before the driver noted his defeat. A forced iPhone landed in my hand as the desperate driver’s eyes quickly glanced and landed on mine. He spoke quickly “you look up and take me.” I acknowledged his request feeling a sense of pity.
I typed in my destination dodging the cracks of his dilapidated screen. Handing the phone back he insisted on driving in the heavy wet traffic while holding his phone to which I strongly disagreed. Instead I turned on Google Maps on my trusty Nexus and was relieved to hear the therapeutic voice of the assistant. “Turn right in 200m.” Ah the serenity.
Following the direction of Google my driver managed to find my destination in just over one hour. After the ordeal, I felt pity on the driver so I decided to give him a flat fee of $60 as by now the meter would have been in the hundreds. He thankfully replied shaking my hand apologising profusely.
So now it is the morning after and based on my story the best advice I can give – don’t judge a book by it’s cover, instead judge a cab by its condition!