Toward the end of a hard day’s work, many office workers would like to unwind with a peaceful, relaxing trip on the way to that late afternoon meeting.
Unfortunately, short trips in modern day taxis are anything but relaxing and peaceful.
I have a late afternoon meeting at one of our plants in
. I go down the elevator, walk out of the eighteen storey building and step into the waiting taxi outside.
Raj, the Indian born taxi driver, greets me with a friendly smile. After waiting for two cars, he veers out into the street and puts the pedal to the metal, reaching fifty kilometers an hour in less than five seconds.
About thirty meters down the road, we approach a red light. Raj slams on the brakes and brings the vehicle to a screeching halt, with the nose of the taxi approximately four inches from the back of the truck in front. I am thrust forward by the impact before my seat belt jolts me back into position.
Raj uses the opportunity to commence a full and complete description of his life story.
It’s late afternoon and I’ve had a hard day at the office. I listen politely, but right now, I really don’t need to hear his life story.
The light turns green, but we are behind four other vehicles and cannot move off straight away. Raj’s hand commences immediately to blast the horn.
“Go, go,” he pounds the steering wheel before giving more blasts. In contrast, the driver at the front of the line waits until the old lady has actually finished crossing.
Stuck behind a large truck in the right lane, Raj pulls out suddenly into the left lane, cutting off the vehicle behind and causing the motorcyclist beside us to swerve and narrowly miss a parked car.
Raj swerves back into the right lane in front of the truck we just passed and puts the pedal back to the floor. He eases off slightly at the point when the nose of the taxi is six inches from the rear of the vehicle in front. For the next hundred and fifty meters, Raj skillfully maintains a precise gap with the vehicle in front - no more than one foot and now less than six inches.
After telling me that he knows a ‘shortcut’ Raj proceeds to veer right, cutting across two lanes of oncoming traffic, narrowly missing both oncoming vehicles and an eighty year old pedestrian with a walking frame.
He cusses back words which I cannot repeat after his maneuvers produce angry horn blasts from other drivers.
We are now traveling up a narrow one way lane. Raj accelerates to about eighty kilometers per hour, glances in my direction and continues to talk to me, taking his eyes completely off the road ahead.
Raj takes a break from his life story to give me his views on the problems with city traffic today. Drivers do not take enough care on the roads, he says, and too often people run red lights or cut in front of others. He also thinks that drivers are too self centered and should show more respect toward other road users.
I couldn’t agree more – and Raj himself provides a shining example of a model road user.