Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Singing Taxi Driver

My morning started very badly.  

            You all know the sort of day - the sort where everything goes wrong right from the very beginning. My alarm didn't go off, so I overslept and rolled out of bed on the wrong side. The water in the shower wouldn't go hot and the yogurt in the fridge was past its date and tasted like stomach-aches later at lunchtime.  There were no clean shirts, my trousers needed a button sewn, and when I threw on a skirt instead and pulled my stockings up, a fingernail popped and ripped a ladder all the way from toe to thigh.
            In short, it was a perfect petty morning storm, with irritation running up and down my spine like needles raining down on a tin roof.  It felt so ground-in I reckoned I might fill those needles up with ink and run that funk right into my skin like a tattoo.
            And then I missed my bus. Of course I couldn't get a taxi -  taxis with passengers inside seemed to pause and gloat as they flew past, and when - at last - a free taxi stopped, it overshot, slamming to halt ten yards farther down the street.  I chased it down and stepped inside - and I was drowned, crushed beneath a wave of sound.  The driver spoke.  I couldn't hear.
            "Turn Your Music Down!" I yelled.
Accordions and violins rose and swelled.  My funk was flattened, crushed, beneath music like a fifty-foot monster swell off of an Alaskan surfing shore.
            "TURN YOUR MUSIC DOWN!"
He nodded and the music shrank in size to something more manageable  - a howling north-sea gale perhaps, and we shot out into the street, crossed three lanes of traffic without a single honk, and settled down to cruising comfortably in the inside lane.
The driver twisted in his seat and smiled at me. I hated him at once.
            "Good Mooooorning Senorita!"
And he rolled his rrrrr's.  With enthusiasm.  I hated him worse than ever. 
            "Where, Sennnorrrrita?"  He said, rolling worse.
I told him. He nodded, and turned the music back up.
            "You mind?" He shouted back at me.
Strangely enough, I found that I didn't.  It was tango music: thumping upright piano and accordion, with lots of sturm and drang.  It suited me and my funk right down to the ground.
            "The music's the best parrrrrt of the job!"  He shouted, clashing the gears horribly and braking sideways into a lane full of big orange buses.
            "Herrrrre in the taxi I can sing all day long.  Tango, cumbia, jazz, bossa-nova, opppperrrrrra-"
He rolled his rrrr's again, but the accordion was thumping and I found I didn't mind.  He twisted in his seat to look at me again, and we shot across a rather large cross-street on the red.
            "May I sing for you?"
            "Sure."  I said weakly. I held tight to the door handle.  "It's your taxi.  Feel free."
Flashing me a splendid smile, he turned back to the steering wheel, nudged the volume dial up to maximum, straightened his back, and sang.
He sang Dejame Asi by Alfredo de Angelis, and he sang it in a loud, clear tenor voice, all the way through to the end.  My bad mood melted away like snow beneath a summer sun, and I clapped and shouted out loud in pleasure.
            "Bravo!"  I cried, when he had finished.  "Wonderful!  Magnificent! Would you do another one?"
            "You mean it?"
So he did. He sang El Choclo - by de Angelis again, and then  he sang another one, and another -
He sang me all the way across town.
At the end of the ride, I tipped him the entire value of the fare.  As he nosed back out into the traffic to drive away, I reached out and tapped on his window.
            "Thank you."  I said.  "Thank you." 
And I reached back into my purse and gave him all the money I had in it.  If I miss my bus again this evening, I will be walking home.  That's all right - there's a big moon scheduled, and a clear sky, and I'll do it singing, imagining piano and accordion going at it hammer and tongs, all the way.

That's how my Friday has gone so far.  How's yours?

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