The Cab Ride That Never Happened


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By Don Swinney | July 1, 2013

How many times have you taken a taxicab to your destination? The answer to that depends on what part of the world you live in, I’ll bet. Having been reared on a cotton farm in Texas my first 13 years, the only way I knew what a cab was was from the movies. As best as I can remember, a trip to town and the movies was our reward for a week’s work on the farm. The cost of the movie and a hamburger and a coke was 25 cents. Then we moved into the city . I think there were cabs there, but they were not an option. There were public buses. Not until 1967 did we live in a town of 250,000 where cabs were a visible force. In 1972, I was hired by the U.S. Government to teach at Rein Man Air Force Base, just a few miles south of Frankfurt. It was on our way to Germany that they above mentioned cab ride took place. {{more}} My parents drove us to Dallas, Texas where we were to fly to New York City. There we spent the night. When we took a hotel shuttle bus to our hotel, I got a gentle hint that the hotel was not in the best part of town when I noticed it was completely encircled by not one, but two chain link fences. One of this had a razor wire strung around the top. Our second shock came when we went to the hotel restaurant; our only choice unless we wanted to scale those fences. The prices were horribly high! An appetizer was more than a nice steak back in Texas. At the time, I knew I’d be reimbursed for all of it but it still burned me up. Then came the cab ride that never happened. Here was our dilemma. Here we were in New York City. A town we’d always heard of but never thought we’d ever see. We were due to fly out to Germany before noon the next day. It was too late in the day to get a tour of the city. But to be in New York City for maybe the only time in our lives and not be able to see it was a sin. So I called a taxi. After about an hour, up drove a regular car with no signs indicating it was a taxi. Out comes a driver wearing regular street clothes, no marking as a legitimate taxi driver. I didn’t know what part of town we were in or how to get back. I thought, “This guy could drop us off somewhere and we wouldn’t know how to get back, or worse, he might rob us of all we had. What was I to do? I had to act fast! I gave him a healthy tip and told him we’d changed out mind. So what was to be my first cab ride never happened and I breathed a sigh of relief.