Cab drivers you’re likely to bump into
In the hustle and bustle of the city, moving from one point to the other can be a real hassle, and once in a while, you’ll find yourself taking a taxi. While at it, writes WAMBUI VIRGINIA, you will encounter a whole lot of motorists who come packed with different characteristics, mannerisms and attitudes
The storyteller: These are the ultimate champions of tales. They, especially male ones, love to narrate their life histories, detail by detail. They will do it so exhaustively, from how they hustled as matatu touts to how they managed to buy their first car and how they now own a chain of cars that are all in the taxi business. They will even go to the extent of detailing their makes, engine capacities and colours! Oblivious of your inhterest or otherwise, they will regale you with tales of their love for cars as little boys and how they self-taught themselves how to drive using other people’s cars at the carwash. They will tell you about everything that has happened in their lives, while showing not interest to know how life is from your side.
The flirt: I’ve lost count of the many times a cab driver would ask me about my love life or even my romantic interests. It is even worse, especially if you’re a return client. The flirty driver is usually trying to ooze charisma and wit. They will go as far as complimenting your fashion sense, dress fabric, hairstyle and scent. Also, they see nothing weird in telling you the kind of women they are interested in. You will feel their eyes all over your back, as they ogle at you when you walk off from their car. They will even save your number and text you at 4.45am, asking whether you got safely to your house. Uber has, however, officially banned its drivers from any form of informal communication with its clients.
Politician-cum-economist: Their conversations usually start either when you get stuck in traffic or after a radio news bulletin. “Hii maisha inaendela kuwa ngumu. Hii handshake ata haijasaidia kitu, lakini unaona BBI…” And they will go on and on until they notice you are not as political as they had thought, thanks to your cold responses of “mmmhs and aaahs”. He would pause a little, but before you know it, he’s already started ranting on how we have failed as a country, touch on the fuel prices, inflation,the securities exchange and end up blaming the politicians for everything. An encyclopedia on wheels!
The lunatic: As soon as the trip starts, this particular driver will be doing multiple things at once. He would be trying to charge his phone while texting and eating a burger with earphones in place to listen to music from an iPod. He will put his feet off the brakes, but won’t accelerate for minutes before a random motorist hoots behind him, which knocks him back to his senses. All the while, he’ll be struggling talking to you amid suffocating on swallows of the burger.
Know it all: If you are two or three of you in that ride, this type of driver will rudely and unapologetically jump into all your conversations with an aura of how well they are versed with whatever you would be talking about. You will be sitting on the back seat, for example, discussing celebrities and out of the blues the driver, while stealing glances from the centre mirror, would shout how the so-called celebs use cabs to hide their poor status. This pushes you to adjourn your talk or else...
The lost sheep: The cab driver has no problem accepting the job, however, once you are inside the car, they ask where you are going and it even gets more perplexing when they ask you “...Do you know how we will get there?” You spend almost the entire trip explaining to the driver which way to go and their excuse is always the same: “I don’t usually get customers to these sides.” He even has no clue how the Global Positioning System (GPS) works.
The rude dude: One rule with cab drivers operating under the digital apps is they have to pick you up once they’ve accepted the ride. But this doesn’t usually happen. This calibre will accept the ride alright, but not move an inch from where they are. So, when you call them after an inordinate delay, they will ask about your destination and if it’s not compatible with their likings and feelings, will blatantly tell you to cancel the request.
The speed monster: The speed lover is always in a hurry to get you to your destination as fast as possible, so as to get other ‘better-paying’ clients. Just like their matatu counterparts, they dread being held up in one place. The speedster doesn’t like long trips as they are always calculating on their next client. So, they will overlap, zoom off at break-neck speed and sometimes during their speeding affair, fail to notice the mountain-sized bump or the crater of a pothole on the road.
The silent pilot: It’s not surprising to find a cab driver who chooses not to speak to their client during the entire trip. They limit their talk to asking what you want to listen to on the car stereo and refrain from engaging you in the small talk most cab drivers are associated with. In 2017 in Japan, for instance, the Miyako Taxi introduced silent drivers who are prohibited from speaking to their clients or being spoken to. Be seen, not heard...
Parte after parte: This one would always have loud music on and is either dressed as if they were on their way to a party when you hailed the ride. They seem buzzed up, and usually operate late at night. They are generally friendly and hyper, especially when they find their clients are party enthusiasts. Most of the hyped drivers are usually students during the day and work at night. Best of both worlds...