Friday, January 22, 2010

Commuter Chronicles: Taxi driver, sweet lover

It was, by far, the grooviest cab I have ever taken. It was bright orange and white on the outside, with a huge ad for something--fabric freshener, maybe--instead of a taxi light. Inside, the roof was dotted with stickers--of Jesus, cats, flowers, anime girls in short skirts--and glow-in-the-dark stars.

There was a big Chinese good luck decor hanging from the rear-view mirror, dangling in front of a statue of the Holy Family that stood beside a little statue of a spotty open-mouthed giraffe head that was presently home to a plastic black ballpoint pen.

The driver was in aviator shades and a brown flowery silk shirt. He had a leather cellphone case strapped on his belt. He was wearing a Saudi gold bracelet, a wedding ring, and shiny leather shoes.

"Neat stickers!" I told him, after I gave him my destination.
"The kids had a brilliant idea," he replied in the vernacular, instantly giving me a once over in the mirror.
"Your kids?" I asked.
He laughed in reply. "How many kids do you have?"
"None," I said.

And then, an exchange on whether I lived near where he had picked me up, if I was working where he was bringing me to. I never give any details. I just say no, I'm from a farther place and, no, I'm just looking for work, life being hard as it is nowadays. I add that last bit for some drama, so as not to sound haughty or too abrupt.

"Aren't you married?" he asked.
"No. I need to save up for it." Part lie. I'm saving up, but not for that. Or, not for just that.
"You should get married. The two of you can both save up," he said. "Then, have children."

My standard reply is that kids are expensive. I need to work harder. And that someone I know only has one kid, and she and her husband are both working, but they're still having problems making ends meet. I don't really believe that either, but that's the reply with least resistance.

"How many kids do you have?" I asked him again.
"None," he lied.
"Who put the stickers then?" I asked.
"My nephews, nieces."
Liar, liar, pants on fire.

"Are you going to work here?" he asked me, as the cab turned to my stop.
"Maybe," I said. "I might have to move to Pasig."
"Live in Taguig! The rent is cheap!"
"Yeah, but I'd have to take cabs all the time."
"I'll pick you up all the time."
Yeah, right, Romeo. Mrs. Romeo would sure like that.

I gave him my fare, with a fairly generous tip. But only because I had no change and I had no interest in quibbling.
"So, should I pick you up later?" he asked, with a sly grin.
I see you, fool. I see your ring.

Throughout the entire trip, on the radio, Dr. Margarita Holmes was being interviewed by Arnold Clavio and his co-anchor on the topic of Tiger Woods' supposed sex addiction, the state of sex addiction in the Philippines, and support groups for sex addicts in the country.
"Men are polygamous by nature," she had said three times, one of those times mistakenly saying, "Men are promiscuous by nature" before correcting herself.

Clavio insisted, "There are a few good men."

I'd like to think so. But count Mr. Basta Driver Sweet Lover out.