We were in D.C. with our nephews, who’d called for a ride to take us out for the evening. There were five of us, requiring a big SUV. One pulled up.
As I climbed into the backseat I noticed the driver had installed a small set of black satin privacy curtains between the front seat and first row of back seats. They were open, but could be drawn and tied shut.
The driver was very outgoing. Not long into our short ride he asked the nephew in the front seat if we had noted what his name was before we climbed in. We hadn’t.
“Well, that was your first mistake,” the driver said. We in the back seat looked at each other. In my mind I played through how it would sound on Dateline: “They were headed for a fun dinner and night out, so they called for a driver. Little did they know that the evening would end in tragedy….”
The driver then said his name, something like “Disco Dan” — not kidding. That was his handle. He told us how important it was to get our driver’s name at the start of a ride, but that most people did not.
Right, but strange
We knew he was right. But he sounded a little…deranged. I looked around; we were still in a populated area of DC. Thankfully. I looked over at the door handle. I was in the middle but you can bet your bottom dollar I would have leaped over my nephew to get out if I needed to.
But for now, we wanted to keep things calm.
So one of us in the back asked, “Hey, what are the privacy curtains for?”
“Oh, so passengers can change their clothes.”
I piped up: “How much of a call is there for that?”
Because who would change their clothes in a cab? Hookers? Criminals? Superman? I couldn’t imagine it would happen that often. But wasn’t going to say that.
“More often than you’d think,” he said.
Umm. Right. Sure!
“Oh!” we responded, nodding seriously. If we’d looked at each other one of us would start laughing and the others wouldn’t be able to stop. For sure we’d end up in a deserted park. So, lips quivering, we each looked straight ahead.
Curtains for him!
But now the guy was energized, and not in a good way. His voice got louder and more emphatic:
“One guy tried to close the curtain for him and his girlfriend and I told him it would be $150 if he did!! When he wanted to know why, I told him I didn’t know what he and his girlfriend were doing back there and I’d have to clean the entire car! He protested and I told him it would be another $150–a total of $300. He gave me the money and got out. I then gave him a review.”
He got more agitated and punched the screen with his finger, as if he were entering data. “‘Closed curtain! Charged $300! Obnoxious!” He bashed his screen with his forefinger again and again to punctuate.
We could not even look at each other. But we knew we had to keep him calm.
“Is this Cash Cab?” a nephew joked.
I can’t remember which of us asked who his most interesting passenger was.
“I’m on speed dial with three cops and a secret service agent, and I talk to them every day!” he told us.
Seriously? we thought (but didn’t say.)
“Wow, that’s a lot!” one of us did say.
Was it a bludgeon or a tool?
“Yes and see this flashlight?”
The driver pulled one out from under his seat. I practically had a coronary, imagining him bludgeoning my front-seat nephew with it.
“I recommended it to the secret service guy, because I saw him looking for guns in cars that had tinted glass. His little flashlight didn’t do anything, but this one? It’ll show you everything! And once he got the flashlight, he confiscated 28 guns!”
Hmm. What would a secret service guy be doing peeking into cars for guns in front of his ride driver? and why wouldn’t he have the best flashlight known to law enforcement? 28 guns? Who was counting?
“What else is special about this car? ” we asked, to change the subject.
Flashing disco lights immediately filled the cabin. Enough to give an epileptic a seizure.
Just then we arrived at our destination and practically fell over each other trying to get out.
“Best. Ride. Ever!” I told him as I shut the door.
Was it entertainment? Or a narrow escape?
We’ll never know.
Have you had a crazy driver? Let us know your story in the Comments!
My vote is for narrow escape, YIKES!
Yikes is right! What we thought, too!
Hubby & I arrived at Dublin airport and asked a fellow passenger on our plane, being a local, what in his opinion would be the best mode of transport to get to our hotel. He directed us to the bus stop but then added that his car is parked at the airport and as the hotel wasn’t far from his house he would gladly give us a lift for free. So, we agreed to the lift. In the car, the driver was chatting away when I noticed he was going the opposite direction to where we were meant to be going. I won’t lie – I did start to get anxious and the driver spotted my unease …and went onto explain that he didn’t like to use the “fecking fast roads” and he was detouring around the outskirts. He was hilarious as he showing us the sights but he did get us to the hotel in one piece after a 90 minute journey. After our stay, he caught the bus back to Dublin airport – it took 20 minutes using the “fast road”.
oh now THAT’s a story!!
I definitely vote for “narrow escape”. At least the fact that there WAS an interior door handle was a good sign.
oh geez, you’re right!!!
Wow. Just wow. Things to think about.
We do watch a lot of Dateline…
Wow. He sounded intense and would’ve scared me. Don’t they screen Uber drivers better these days?
he seemed normal enough at first.
So glad you weren’t alone on that ride!
No kidding. It is mind boggling to think….
That is absolutely terrifying! Too my weirdos out there!
i wonder if there are more than in previous eras….
way too many for me!
In Jamaica in 97 my husband had the bright idea to use an “unsanctioned” driver from outside the area the police recommended. He offered to find us around all day for a set rate, let’s say $45. At the end of the day he pulled into a remote parking lot with a bunch of other unsanctioned drivers, just beyond eyeshot from the port area and told us it was now 100. My husband was ready to fight. I saw the machete in the map pocket of the door the driver was leaning against. I paid and ran.
Well, that’s scary, Ricki.
I live in NYC. I have had a few crazy experiences. But never Cash Cab darn it!
I’ll bet you have, Lauren!
He sounds like a real joker. Not sure, though.
Yeah, we felt a little….nervous. He didn’t seem like he was joking!