One advantage of riding taxis is that I get stories I can repeat in my column. Like the one about the driver who was reading a warrant of arrest for murder, which I hope he had not personally committed. I have had some memorable conversations with cabbies; practically the only thing we have not discussed is the Hardy-Ramanujan taxi number (1729), and when that comes up I know it is a sign that I should start a taxi company.
In recent years I’ve had only two arguments with drivers. The first driver checked the route with me every 30 seconds, and when I said, “I don’t know, you’re the driver,” flew into a rage and cried, “Kailangan mo bang mag-Inglis?” The other was a cranky old person who said we could not go straight on Legaspi Street towards Greenbelt, and when I pointed out that we could, launched into a stream of invective about women being possessed by the devil. Which made me furious, but I was not as proficient at cussing in Tagalog as he was, so I just tossed the exact fare on the front seat and said, “Mamamatay ka.” I had meant to say “Mamatay ka”—drop dead—but in my rage repeated a syllable, so it came out as “You will die.” Which is a statement of fact: everybody dies, if not now then eventually, but the crabby cabbie interpreted it as a threat and started screaming out the window as I walked off, thus increasing his chances of having an aneurysm and proving me psychic.
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From the archive: Makati Murder Mystery (2009)
So I’m in a taxi on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, crawling through
the traffic on McKinley Road, and we stop at a red light. The driver
opens the glove compartment and takes out a sheaf of papers. I don’t
mean to look but I can read the print clearly over his shoulder. I
wish I hadn’t looked because it’s a document issued by a Regional
Trial Court. A warrant of arrest.