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!
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