Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cab Drivers: A Hate Song

Los Angeles is well known for its hoards (and hordes) of terrible drivers. Last night, I met one of them.

My friend Stew gave me a statistic about the number of people in this city that drive without a license. I don't remember the number, but I do know it was staggering, and also that I wholeheartedly believe it. Since I moved here eleven months ago, I have watched countless red lights run with impunity, have been cut off without a blinker to warn me that someone doesn't find it necessary to check his/her blind spot before switching lanes, have had two people scrape my car in parking garages without leaving a note, have enjoyed weekly car chases on the news, and have even had a man sideswipe me and drive away.

Once I overestimated my knowledge of the Vue's proportions and scuffed a woman while I was trying to get into a left-hand turn lane; more than being upset with myself, I was filled with rage for a city in which I could be made to feel bad for being the responsible one. Oh no, we can't have that in this city. Let us instead reward those who screech about in thousands of pounds of forged metal heedless of their surroundings. They are the true heroes of Los Angeles.

Even after Stew gave me the statistical factoid, I found a new level of motorist excellence. I had dropped off the guys who came to the Smog Cutter for karaoke, and was exhaustedly heading home for sleep. Driving south on Edgemont avenue, about to stop at the Hollywood boulevard intersection, the light turned green. I had enough green light to think, "My lucky stars! This stop-light changed for me because it wants me to get home more quickly!" How long did it take you to read that thought? About five seconds. I had a green light for five seconds, and a taxi cab comes barreling eastbound along Hollywood blvd. so quickly that I wonder if he's going to stop. He does not. He coasts, still at about 25 miles per hour, into the intersection although he has had a red light for that same five seconds. More in fact, because there is a second delay before the lights switch.

After he almost broadsides my car and I warn him off with the horn, he turns behind me, and tailgates me for half a block. I am driving 25, which at this point is probably over the speed limit because it's a hospital zone. Instead of learning his lesson (i.e. "Don't get upset with someone who has honked at you for disobeying the law."), he floors the gas and speeds past me. In a hospital zone. Over a double-yellow line. And he gets caught by the next red light, so it was a good thing he passed me, or he would have had to wait longer in order to... wait. At the red light.

For any other car, this would be a moment of disgust. Cab drivers, on the other hand, openly ask you, in text, on the back and sides of their vehicles, "How's my driving?" Oh, I'm glad you asked. I dial the number, which LA Taxi lists as "Checker Cab" company and let their call center receptionist know that taxi #3619 is driving like a maniac, disobeying traffic signals, right of way, posted speed limit, and no passing zones. Victory is mine, "Cab Calloway." Don't you forget it. My project to censure Los Angeles drivers is off to an auspicious beginning.

The moral of this story: Don't get into Checker Cab #3619. He does not deserve to share the road.

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