Thursday, January 06, 2005

Raining cats and dogs, hailing taxicabs

Story 1.

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing
on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm.
Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.

Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.

A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others,"
Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

Story 2.

Sometime 1987: soaked to the marrow and shivering under a late afternoon downpour at Quezon Avenue, I flagged a cab.

The driver rolled up the window on the passenger side and asked me, "Sa'n ka?"

Coughed a reply: "Project 8, p're!" It was about a P40 fare then. The cab roared away.

Feeling flustered I flagged some more. Taxi driver #2 and I repeated the same skit that ended in taxicab roaring away, leaving a splash of floodwater behind. Soaked me some more.

Same skit with Taxi driver #3.

The script for Taxi driver #4 went a major overhaul after he asked me the familiarly contemptuous line, "Sa'n ka?"

The business end of an ugly Beretta .22 was jabbed between his eyes and I shivered some more, telling him in a tad piquant tone, "Putang ina mong hindot ka! Sa impiyerno na lang kita ibibiyahe kapag hindi mo 'ko isinakay. 'Tang ina n'yo, nakita n'yo nang nangangaligkig sa lamig, basang kuting na 'ko dito-- magtatanong ka pang gunggong ka! Babayaran kita!"

He went white as a sheet, I even asked him to take me to LTO, LTFRB, the police precinct at Baler St. near West Avenue-- anywhere I could present him to the authorities-- and all along the route, I bristled with verbal abuse at the hapless hack. I paid him P50.

In 2000, I bet one of the cops -- a pulis probinsiya-- assigned on guard duty at Shell House in Makati that taxicab drivers are so choosy with passengers, all they'll pick up are those headed within Makati. I dared him to arrest every hack who won't comply. It took three arrests of offending drivers before he gave up-- I was proved right.

Moral of this true-to-life tales:

[1]Don’t tack a picture and use a nom de plume for a column like this.

[2]Cabbies in Metro Manila are stone cold illiterates—they can’t read and won’t heed what’s printed boldly on the cab: ‘Manila to any point of Luzon.’

[3]In a downpour just when you want to hail a cab anywhere in Metro-Manila, the cab driver ought to be hailed with a hail of slugs-- small arms fire will do.

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