This morning we needed to catch a cab to the airport from our hotel in central Sydney.
During our six-day stay we’ve been in a variety of taxis – from clean and tidy to smelly and unkempt. The appearance of the driver often gives a clue to the state of the car’s interior.
But this morning, we had no clue as to the sort of drive we were about to embark on.
The driver was asian. I suspect Vietnamese because he was softly spoken – barely audible – and had a strong accent. He was neatly dressed and the inside of the cab was clean and tidy even though a little aged. After we’d fastened our seat belts, we had to ask him to turn down the radio. It was so loud as to make conversation impossible and was tuned to a station playing unidentifiable trash.
Then we had to ask if he wouldn’t mind winding up his window. Nothing worse than being blown to bits in the back seat. If I wanted that, I’d ride on a motorbike!
Anyway with that done we settled down for our early morning trip, a chance to glance at the sights one last time. How wrong I was.
My first thoughts as we sped through the city streets turned to whether taxi companies were liable in the event of an accident. I didn’t feel safe … if we were to crash, would the company cover hospital and travel expenses?
We soon reached the new tunnel – opened in time for the Olympics – which gives a more direct route to the airport. I had thought that our driver’s pumping of the accelerator was because we were in the city. I was wrong. It had nothing to do with the road. He just seemed to like releasing and depressing every few seconds. So much so that I began to feel queasy.
I wondered who on earth had taught him to drive, whether in fact he actually had had lessons, and who in their right mind granted him a license? I got the feeling he was driving the cab like a tuk-tuk with each depression of his foot coinciding with the revolution of a pedal. We kept jolting gently along until suddenly our driver slammed on the brakes, I was thrown forward and we came to a jarring halt narrowly missing the rear of the cab in front of us. Thank God for seat belts!
He mumbled something – I don’t know whether it was an apology or an excuse, and then we continued on lurching toward the airport.
There was a long queue on the drop-off ramp. Rather than stick with him until the bitter end, we bailed at the first possible opportunity, paid the man (thankful to be alive) and then wheeled our bags the extra distance.
I hadn’t been alone in my discomfort – my partner let out a huge ‘phew’ as the taxi drove off and we agreed it was one of our worst ever taxi rides.