Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the HUMOR Genre (10/09/14)
TITLE: Taxi Choices
By Dannie Hawley
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“This tailpipe is held up by a cord, but the seats don’t have gouges out of the upholstery,” I said, “ Let’s talk price.”
The fare negotiated, we climbed into the battered old cab. The engine clunked and rattled. At the moment the driver peeled away, my seatback flipped into recline. Instead of seeing the sights through the scratched windshield, my eyes saw only dangling remnants of the ceiling’s dome light.
“Not such an honor to be seated in the front bucket, eh?” My colleague burst into laughter, while I struggled to right my tilted body.
The chauffeur continued the rapid ascent. Without adjusting his forward-gaze one whit, his right arm stretched to yank the seat up again. I hadn’t anticipated this assisting jerk; my head nearly bounced off the windshield as my body slammed into the dashboard.
The almost-hour-long ride gave me quite a workout. Next time, I’d check for more than holes.
The following day, when the hot sun broke through the dispersing morning rainclouds, we inched our way back to the taxis. Only a few drivers called out; most had not yet left their lodgings.
“Over here,” called my colleague. “This one has a pretty good seat and not that many dings or rust.”
Even-so, I chose the back seat. For our return to the government offices, we dressed in our best.
I leaned into the comfortable backseat, thoughts focused on presenting our project to the officials. We hadn’t gone but a few yards, when my feet felt wet. “Are your feet getting wet up there?”
My colleague confirmed that her right foot felt damp, but assumed it happened during our walk. I made no such assumption because the cold bath continued.
“Uh, did you check on the floorboard when you chose this taxi?” I spoke as I glanced at my feet. Muddy water spurted through large holes left by the consuming rust. Moving my feet to straddle the openings in the floorboard, I pulled the hem of my dress away from my ankles. We’d be on this thick slab of soggy mud for at least ten more minutes. I’d chosen well, however, as my front-seated colleague had no place to move away from the cloudy spray.
Next, the unrelenting rain put a real damper on our Saturday evening dinner invitation. We rejoiced when our night guard offered to fetch a taxi to pick us up right in front of the house. “Please be sure that the windows roll up.” Such needless admonishing because the Africans already knew how to choose a taxi; we were the beginners.
The screech of the large iron gate indicated the taxi had arrived. “This is great!” I said to the guard, who sported a huge smile.
“The windows are all up.” His left hand pointed at the window; his right opened the door.
“Super! This taxi looks really good,” Anne said, sweeping her gaze over the vehicle.
“Comfortable, too,” the chauffeur assured us.
Slipping onto the back seat, I agreed. Seconds into our journey across town, the moisture of the sodden upholstery seeped through my cotton dress, petticoat and freshly-showered skin. The chauffeur had only closed the front windows when the all-day rain began. I’d need to ask the hostess for an old towel large enough to cover any surface receiving my saturated, mold-scented backside.
During the first of many dry seasons, using inter-city bush taxis expanded our knowledge-base. Long distances necessitated multiple taxi selection; opportunity to practice abounded.
Mere moments after beginning the last leg of one memorable journey, the driver pulled off the road. Flipping up the hood, he jiggled something, and off we went again. He did this every five minutes. Finally, Anne got out to see what he was doing.
To our utter shock, the guy had rigged a small, powdered-milk container to drip gasoline into the carburetor. Seems that the fuel-injection system didn’t work anymore, but this did.
We added anti-explosion pleas to our prayers for a safe journey, offered up every five minutes.
Sometimes, daily challenges offer incredible opportunities in learning to make better choices.
Author’s Note:This is a true story.
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