I’d walked in to see a movie, but when it came time to go home, it was, as the young girl whose friends hassled her about her bad English skills said, “raining cats and cogs”. Fortunately a taxi rank down the road provided me with a means of transport, so I jumped in the first available cab and was on my way home.
It was all going well until the driver started talking. He started talking about the Fijian coup, but when he realised that my lack of knowledge about foreign affairs meant that “Uh-huh” was the only response I could manage, he switched to a subject closer to home.
He told me that another driver for that taxi company had “fiddled with a drunk girl,” or, as the New Zealand Herald’s report phrased it, “allegedly assaulted a female passenger”. The driver in question was arrested by the police, and sacked by the cab company.
The article in the Herald focussed on an email that had circulated falsely stating that the driver was still employed and calling for a boycott, and how the cab company’s general manager was saying that business was down since the email got around.
However, my driver was more interested in telling me about the drunk girls. Oh yes, he had stories to tell.
He said that every night he would get two to three drunk females who would offer him sexual favours instead of them paying the cab fare in cash.
He told me that one night he’d dropped two girls off and one of them had gone inside the house, but the other one stayed in the cab and said to him, “I don’t have any money to pay, but I will give you anything you want. Anything.”
I made comments to the effect that it was wrong and immoral and that I always carried enough fare for the taxi. But the conversation was strange and creepy. Fortunately I arrived at my place (across the road and a few doors down, the old trick) and paid the fare and left.
Being alone in a taxi with a strange man who is talking about drunk women who offer him sexual favours is not a comfortable situation to be in. If I’d known it was going to turn to that I would have gladly faked my way through a conversation about the Fijian coup.