If you live in the city, and sometimes even if you don’t, eventually there will come a time in your life when you’ll have to hail or call a taxi and survive the subsequent ride to your destination. Whether it was some inclement weather, laziness, or a hot mess level of drunkenness that’s landed you in a big yellow taxi, the terror you experience from the backseat of a cab will give you gray hair and make motivate you to make a solemn vow never to take a taxi again. In my experience, your innermost thoughts during a cab ride generally follow this frightening chronology…

While you’re hailing a cab: Okay, here we go, my hand is up—hello taxis, come and get me! …All these people walking around me probably think I’m lazy; I look like one of those taxi people. Here’s one!!! Is it stopping? No, there’s already someone in there. What if someone thinks I’m hitchhiking, and they happen to be driving a taxi they bought from the junkyard, but they’re not really a taxi driver, and they kill me? Oh! This one’s stopping. Here we go…

How you know this picture was staged? The people in the back are smiling, and their knuckles aren't white.NY Daily News
How do you know this picture was staged? The people in the back are smiling, and their knuckles aren’t white.
NY Daily News

Getting in the cab: Alright, now, be extra nice. This person is basically a chauffeur without the prestige or the town car. I bet someone’s puked in here before. I hope I enunciated the address clearly enough… What if he takes me to the wrong place—who assumes responsibility for that? It looks like we’re going in the right direction. Should I be saying something right now? I’ll just look out the window…

En route to your destination: Huh, there’s a new restaurant opening on—WHAT’S HAPPENING?!?! Why did he just slam on the brakes like that?! Okay, don’t look alarmed, casually glance out the front window to see what’s going on… Oh no, I made eye contact with him in the rearview mirror—now he must think I’m silently criticizing his driving when we both know he’s doing me a favor. There’s no worse backseat driver than a taxi cab backseat driver…

Should we be going this fast? There’s a lot of traffic… OH MY GOSH. IS HE REALLY TRYING TO MAKE THIS LIGHT?! ARE YOU INSANE YOU’RE GOING TO KILL US BOTH, YOU MANIAC!  OUR BODIES WON’T BE RECOGNIZABLE IN HIS HEAP OF YELLOW METAL! We made it… Barely.

You know what would make the entire business of taking a taxi less creepy and more comfortable? If each cab had a theme. We could have a 50s cab where the driver would be wearing 50s era clothing and Elvis would be playing on the radio, and—HE’S NOT REALLY TRYING TO MAKE THIS TURN IS HE? OH NO. HE’S DOING IT. All these people he’s cutting off are giving me a dirty look, but it’s not me! I’M NOT RUSHING HIM, I SWEAR! 

I think I have taxi-induced high blood pressure. We have to be close… SLOW DOWN. STOP, LOOK OUT FOR THAT PREGNANT WOMAN ABOUT TO CROSS THE STREET! I’m not in any hurry, okay?! I’ll pay more! It’s fine! Let the meter run! YOU’RE ABOUT TO HIT THIS GUY!!! WHO’S HONKING?!

Arriving at your destination: FINALLY! I think this ride just took three years off of my life. This man is a lunatic. I don’t even think he has his license. Can anyone become a taxi cab driver? Is there a taxi school? If there’s clown college, then there should definitely be a taxi driver university. If any profession required some further education, it’s cab drivers. Get me out of this mustard-colored vehicular coffin… LAND! Sweet, merciful land filled with garbage, piss, and gum!

Next time, I’ll walk.

45 thoughts on “The Chronology of Your Innermost Thoughts during a Taxi Ride

    1. Oh sure, alcohol helps with just about everything (except being sober).

      American cabs seeming… safe? Wow. The taxi situation in South America must be pretty sketchy.

  1. I once rode in a London taxi. It was incredibly expensive (only did it because it was early on a Sunday morning, the tube wasn’t running and I had to get to work) but I can definitely recommend it.

    1. I imagine a taxi in a foreign city could be exhilarating… But I think taking one around your area is more of a chore of last resort than anything else.

      1. In South Africa we have minibus taxis. They have fixed routes, carry multiple passengers, often overload, are usually unroadworthy and ignore the traffic rules as the traffic police are often related to the driver/owner. I’ll only take one as an absolute last resort. (To be fair, in a city like Cape Town the taxis are okay. That’s about the only place, though.)

      2. Oh my gosh, that sounds positively awful. I think I’d just be walking everywhere if I was down there. That just sounds like a small bus, and who really wants to ride a bus unless they absolutely have to?

  2. When I first took a taxi ride the dude would NOT shut fuck up. The whole time he was talking about shooting foxes to me. Good gawd. Only in Maine.

  3. I love your reflections, Katie!
    Living in NYC, I hail taxis all the time. May I share my innermost thoughts with you and your readers?

    HAILING THE CAB: Hi taxi with the white for hire light. Yoo-hoo! Yay . . .Hey! That mother fucker just stole my cab! Jumped in front of me and stole my cab. “Get outta my cab!” “Screw you!” he says and they drive off. Hold head up high–convinced the entire street is laughing at me. Okay. Hi taxi with the white for hire light. Yoo-hoo!

    EN ROUTE:
    1. I’ll just keep looking out the side window here . . . Brakes slam. Just keep looking out the side window.
    2. Occasionally a nice chat ensues, share a couple of laughs. Or he speaks into his headset to his friends in [name of African or East European country here].
    3. Check out the taxi innards–“Hey, your taxi is so clean. It’s really nice.”
    4. Check out the taxi innards–smells like incense and patchouli. Open window! Open window! Open window!
    5. “Hey, you’re born and bred in New York City? How did you get a hacker’s license if you’re American, dude?”

    ARRIVAL: I smell like incense. This is why I take the bus.

    On the flip side, I LOVE taking the taxi in Egypt. What a wild ride. I used to position myself in the middle of the back seat just so that I could observe the whole panorama of chaos unfolding before me. Can’t tell you why it’s different, but it is!

    1. Is an Egyptian taxi ride on the back of a camel, or is that a stereotypical fantasy of mine?

      In my most recent cab experience that inspired this the smell inside wasn’t too bad, but the window was open and it was kind of chilly. I dare not ask to close, because I know that’s the kind of thing you always regret later.

      I’ve never seen a cab theft in process, but I did see an angry pedestrian punch a cab once… He really showed that taxi who’s boss.

      1. I punched a cab once in Cairo. SOB nearly ran into me and I pounded on the hood emitting foul curses in Arabic. (I am fluent in expletive. The rest not so much.)

        🙂

      2. HA!! I’ve never abused a cab, but I have considered pulling up alongside drivers that cut me off and startin’ somethin’.

  4. The last time I was in one of those was in Guyana, South America back around 2000….I really did think I was going to die. OMG I thought the driving was bad in Barbados but in Guyana there are no white lines, no yellow lines, no lines….nada…..cars, trucks, cows, donkeys, people, you name it all whizzing up and down what appears to be a road. I spent two weeks there attending a Hindu wedding. It was fabulous but everything else scared the shit out of me…..

    1. Donkeys?! Judging by how the driver I had recently was handling renegade pedestrians, I can only imagine the ride I would’ve been in for had a donkey came out of the woodwork.

  5. The really aggressive ones in NYC are lots of freakin’ fun. I had a guy pulling all sorts if NASCAR shit weaving in between scores of other vehicles. They clearly don’t own the vehicle theyre driving like that!

  6. Once made it from Playa del Carmen to Cancun in 28 minutes via cab… It’s 45 minutes away. Then the cab in Foz do Iguaçu, Brasil… Had to calm my wife down for two hours after that one.

  7. Love it, this about sums it up. And I’m in Australia, so I guess they’re the same in every city. Though, on the subject, why do people get in gypsy-cabs?? How is that not organised hitchhiking…? O.o Great post, Katie. ^^

      1. Cars that operate as unlicensed taxis. My mind went to them because of the NY taxi in the pic, there’s long ranks of them at JFK airport, though I’ve heard of them over here. Really big thing in NY though, due to over-crowding, shortage if yellow cabs, and the entrepreneurial skills of guys in big, black town cars. I guess… 🙂

      2. I’ve never legitimately heard of this… Wouldn’t that frighten people?! At least if you go missing, someone can identify you got in a taxi, but just some random car?!

        I live my life planning for what would happen if I were to go missing or die. I hope that’s normal.

  8. Hahaha, I love this! Where I’m from, the taxi drivers are pretty nice and actually apologizes when hitting a bump in the road or something. However, I went to China last year, Bejing to be more spesific, and the taxi rides was CRAZY! 😛

    1. I don’t think a taxi driver in Chicago has ever apologized for anything, except maybe “sorry for not giving you post-traumatic stress disorder in addition to high blood pressure.”

      China is so densely populated… I can only imagine what that must have been like.

  9. I have to take a cab to and from work every work day. It is not a fun experience. Here the cab stops for you, you tell them where you want to go and it’s up to them whether you can “climb aboard” or not. Then you have to put up with the possibility that the cabbie will want to fill his car up with passengers along the way, which really results in an invasion of personal space. Then you actually have to hope the car stays in one piece because most of them are extremely ancient! And don’t get me started on the streets and drivers around here… it’s an adventure every day…

    1. Wait, a taxi can REJECT you?!

      Here, if you’re already in a cab, they don’t pick anyone else up until your ride is finished. I can’t imagine having to share. I would think that would take forever to get your destination, because they’d just keep stopping to pick up new people? Weird.

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