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Taxi Tales

I don’t take taxis often at home. When I do it is usually to get a ride to the airport or train station en route to a vacation or business trip somewhere. But, when I arrive in a new destination, taxis become a more common form of transportation for me. They are a great way to get from an airport to the city center where you can then get to know a place by foot or public transit.

Besides the obvious benefit of hailing a taxi (getting you from point A to point B), there are also other curious advantages and experiences one can glean from their ride.

On a recent trip I took to the East Coast, I had two such adventures in taxi-riding that I will lovingly call The Culture Cab and The Translationally Challenged Taxi.

I arrived at Boston Logan Airport on the first day of my week long vacation. I got in fairly late that first night, so had booked a hotel for the evening before heading back to the airport the next day to catch another flight to TDot (Toronto). My “airport hotel” happened to be about 30 minutes from the actual airport. While I was able to catch a shuttle to the hotel that night, I missed the shuttle the following morning and decided to bite the bullet and pay for a taxi ride to the airport so as not to miss my very first Porter Airlines flight. (It is important to note the airline here because they are like the Canadian version of Southwest except their mascot is a raccoon. Both of these facts making them a NOT TO MISS ride in the sky.) After about a 10 minute wait, a nice gentleman pulled up in front of the hotel, helped me with my bag, and we set off for Boston Logan.

One of the first questions my taxi driver asked me was where I was from. California, I replied. That was all I needed to say for him to open up his heart, soul, and city to me for the next 25 minutes that we shared together. Dave, that was his name, used to live in California, but moved back to Boston two years ago to be with his family after his nephew was murdered. Dave told me about his nephew’s legacy that he left in their neighborhood in Boston. How he was always a sports kid, and while he never made it on a professional level, he dedicated his life to coaching kids in the neighborhood he grew up in. This nephew was all about giving back. He told me about the day of his nephew’s funeral, when over 1,000 people lined the streets to watch the procession of cars pass through the place where this young man had touched so many. Dave was so moved by this whole experience that he decided it was time to leave California and come back to his home, Boston. Thrown into this story were snippets of what life in Boston was/is like. He told me about the amazing Italian food, about the city’s love of sports, and about the friendships and bonds that Bostonians have with their neighbors. It was clear that if you live in Boston, you can count on Boston having your back.

Honestly, it was a lot to take in at 5:45am. But, by the end of the ride, as we pulled up to the Porter Airlines terminal, I knew that I had just experienced a sliver of Boston culture. That strong sense of bond and kinship that pulses through the veins of the locals and transplants that now call Boston home. One short taxi ride and I was convinced that Boston would be a great place to visit one day, and maybe stay for a while longer. As Dave once again helped me with my bag, I thought about giving him a hug. He shared a part of his history with me, what did I have to give him? Instead of a hug I promised him I would be back, and I would take the time to get to know his city. With a huge smile on his face, he bid me farewell.

After having a fairly moving taxi ride in Boston, I looked forward to my next ride which happened to be a few days later when I was leaving Toronto to head back to the States. It was early morning again (no, I don’t know why I keep choosing stupidly early flights.) Thankfully I had some fresh Timmy Ho’s (Tim Horton’s… but the locals, aka my friend Lindsay, calls it Timmy Ho’s) in hand and was ready for the next leg of my trip. I hopped into my cab and the following conversation ensued…

Driver: How are you?
Me: Good, and you?
Driver: Happy to have you inside of me.
Me: (awkward silence)

Driver: How was your stay in Toronto?
Me: Great! But it was cold.
Driver: That’s OK, because you are hot.
Me: (more awkward silence)

The best part of this brief eight minute ride was that I honestly don’t think the driver had any intention of hitting on me and instead it was just some perfectly placed translation mishaps that delighted me so. As we rode up to the Toronto City Airport the driver told me to come back to Toronto, but never again in the winter time because it is too cold. I wouldn’t say he was the best brand ambassador for his city, not like Dave from Boston, but our chuckle-worthy conversation made me want to come back for more. Even if for just the self-esteem boost.

Those are my latest, and quite possibly greatest, taxi experiences. Do you have any good taxi ride stories to share from your travel adventures?

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