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Preface: As I've said, oldie writing will be dusted off and plunked blogside (at least at first; new stuff should gradually overtake i...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Culture in the cab: back with a BlackBerry

First trip: a young lady, 20ish, with a story to tell. She has locked herself out of the garage, and her housemates, who might have loaned her a key, are all out of town.

"What are the chances, eh?" She ruefully asks..

A speeder rips by, cutting across lanes without signalling.

"Alberta drivers are just the worst," she laughs.

A familiar comment. Where is she from?

BC, and therein lies another tale, of our exorbitant insurance rates. In BC she paid $200/month for car insurance. Here she is paying $300, and one insurer even quoted her $500. On top of that, she had to have her 2008 Honda inspected before registering it, even though it was only two months off the lot.

For some reason this inspection-anecdote reminds me of my own mini-ordeal a few years back, when the City of Edmonton required all cabbies to take an English comprehension exam.

I tell my passenger how I enquired whether my Alberta high-school matriculation (I did my entire schooling in the Alberta system, including three years in the NWT) plus my university degree in English would excuse me from writing the exam? Nope. Rules are rules.

My passenger laughs again. I'm not sure it is from some fellow-feeling of being victims of bureaucracy, or because she is a waitress (usually good tippers) but she gives me $10 for $7.60 on the meter.

The happy moment opens the floodgates of thought, from the personal superstition that a good first trip portends a good night in the taxi (actually, this night will merely be ordinary, at least in dollar terms) to the recurring thought that I've GOT to write some of these stories down.

Indeed, having recently bought a new BlackBerry, the job should be easier now. I resolve then and there to blog, for the first time, direct from the cab.

Two days later, doubts are creeping in. Most of the preceding,for instance, was composed the morning after, and even the small segment done in the cab is some sort of testimony to how unusable all the plentiful free moments in the cab are --if one isn't watching the dispatch-computer like a Pavlovian hawk, one is undoubtedly missing trips and losing money. Who has time to watch another screen and ponder the Big Cultural Questions?

##in progress##

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