As I push the buggy back home after the school drop-off at 9am, I often envy those heading to work in buses, darts and taxis. I imagine it must be great to have the time to think and compose one’s thoughts before heading into the day.
One day it happens to me. A few wonderful hours of work outside the home on a Monday morning or so I think.
It’s 8.30am as I wait for a taxi on the main road. …None to be seen… It should only take 15 minutes to get there. 8.45am – the kids wave to me on their way to school. I’m getting slightly anxious.
Finally a taxi stops. It’s now 8.50. I get in. ‘Milltown, please’.
He moves off.
‘…Where did you say again? he asks.
‘Milltown. … Dartry Road….’.
‘…And we are where now…?
‘B o o t e r s t o w n…’
‘…Blackrock?’ I suggest.
I look at him quizzically. He isn’t foreign… Irish accent.
‘And where is Millstreet?’ he questions through the rear view mirror.
‘Mill-T O W N’. I say it slowly and deliberately. ‘We need to get to the N11.’…
‘…Oh yes, and the N11 is over….’
‘Yes, parallel to this road’. I finish what I hope is a statement.
He thinks aloud. ‘Oh yes… have to turn left. Maybe it’s this one.’
‘NO! That’s a nursing home! It’s the next one.’ I consider candid camera. I wouldn’t be that lucky!
I can hear myself think.
In fact, no radio blares in the taxi at all. Something’s not quite right with a taxi driver who doesn’t listen to the radio I think. I look at the time. I might just make it. We stop at the lights beside RTE.
‘So I go straight here?’ he asks.
‘NO! That’s a dead end’. Could he not see the cul de sac sign? ‘Turn right… Do you have a map?’
‘No’. His right hand pretends to flick for one in the side of the door.
I consider hopping out and getting another taxi. The lights change. I don’t move.
Neither does he.
‘GREEN!’ I snap.
‘Look, I really need to get there in 10 minutes.’
‘I know where I am now I think.’
Oh God…. I suggest he contact someone at taxi control.
No radio communication.
‘Forgot to charge it this morning’, he says.
I check the taxi photo ID. … It’s really him.
He reaches in to the front compartment and takes out a Sat nav - wires and all. ‘You know how to work these things?’
‘N O! …. Look, my colleague who has come from another COUNTY is actually waiting for me for the last 30 minutes. She knows this area. I’ll ring her’.
I ring and she becomes our live sat nav. After a few wrong turns we are almost there…or so I’m told. I hang up. But my destination is still not in sight. I ask him to stop so we can ask a pedestrian. He drives past the first one saying ‘She looks foreign, she probably wouldn’t know’.
‘JUST STOP so I can ask’.
The entrance is a half mile back in the other direction.
He turns and we join the procession of cars. It is 9.26am. As we snail along, he explains,
- you see I usually do the …
‘STOP’, I yell. ‘We’ve passed it’.
‘I’ll reverse!’ he says.
‘NO, I’ll jump out.’
‘I won’t charge you the full amount – 10 euro is fine’, he says. ‘You see, I usually do the North side. It’s just I got a fare this morning to the hair clinic in Blackrock and…’.
I hand him some money. ‘Here, buy yourself a f****** map', and I’m off.