Friday, January 7, 2011

Fact or Fiction - taxi edition

This is the first of a new series of posts: Fact or Fiction Friday. Writing non-fiction as an engaging story is essential, and I also write fiction, so I'm going to post bits here that either recount actual events or are complete fiction. Can you tell which?

I rushed out to finish last-minute shopping. I wanted to get everything crossed off my list before the snow hit and public transportation went from every-10-minutes to unreliable-if-it-runs-at-all.

The online weather forecast continued to predict heavy snowfall. Secretly, I prayed for it… hoped it would cancel our flight the next morning. Every time I walked through the doors of a shop onto the street, I inspected the sky. Low, dark clouds; very promising. And then I spotted the first snowflakes.

It begins! I rubbed my hands together in glee. No Christmas travels this year. No stress of wrangling two energetic, loud boys in a foreign country while trying to simultaneously enjoy the sites and soak up the culture. We could kick back and relax at home.

Into another shop I went, giddy with thoughts of staying home. A few minutes later I came out, fully expecting to find a growing blanket of white. No such luck. No more flakes, just clouds again. Well, maybe it will start up again soon. Maybe it will snow all night.

By nightfall, no snow had fallen. I checked the forecast every 30 minutes to no avail. Finally, my husband and mother-in-law persuaded me to order a taxi for the next morning.

I grumbled but did it: a large taxi for the five of us, plus our luggage. They knew we were headed to the airport, knew exactly what we needed and when. I went to bed still hoping to wake to a blizzard.

In the morning, I glanced out the window, devastated to find that no new snow had fallen. Not so much as a centimeter. We finished packing and lugged everything out to the curb at the appointed time.

The boys chased each other around their grandmother while we waited. We had budgeted just enough time to get to the airport and check in, given that the roads were not well plowed.

After several minutes, we started to get fidgety.

“Call them,” Beloved Husband said.

“I don’t know the number.” I was stalling, and he knew it. He was also prepared: he rattled off the number, so I had to call.

“Hi, I ordered a large taxi but it’s not here.” I gave the address and she found my order.

“Yes, I’m afraid there are no large taxis in your part of the city right now.”

“But I ordered one last night.”

“I see that but there are no large taxis in your part of the city right now.”

Good grief, can she say anything else? “We're already late for the airport. We need a taxi.”

“I’m sorry, but there are no large taxis in your part of the city right now.”

A note of panic entered my voice. “What are we supposed to do? We’re going to miss our flight!”

“I don’t know what to tell you, there are no large taxis in your part of the city right now.”

I could feel a hot little ball of fury growing in my chest. What’s the point of ordering a taxi if they don't send one? And yet, some small part of me thought: this is it! We’ll miss our flight!

“Can you send a regular taxi then? My two-year-old can sit on my lap,” I suggested, since the dispatcher didn’t seem to be able to come up with a solution on her own.

“No, you can’t do that,” she replied. “You have to have a large taxi for five people and there are no large taxis in your part of the city right now.”

I came within a millisecond of throwing my cell phone in a snow bank. Doing my best not to scream obscenities, I asked, “Well then what CAN you send us?”

“Two regular taxis.”

“Then send them! Immediately! Right this second! We're going to miss our flight!” I snapped my phone shut, fuming. A taxi that has been ordered isn’t available and their default option is to NOT SEND ONE?!?! Unbelievable.

Five minutes later, a taxi pulled up, and we loaded the luggage and started to get in, thinking we might get lucky and not have to pay for two taxis. But then the driver noticed there were five of us. No second taxi was anywhere in sight, but the driver insisted that it was coming and no, Snuggle Monkey could not sit on someone’s lap. We would have to wait.

We got the boys in, and just as the driver was about to get in the driver’s seat, he noticed that they needed child booster seats. So we all had to get out again while he got them. As he was doing this, the second taxi arrived. My husband and his mom climbed in that one while I got the boys and I buckled into ours.

And then we took off. Our driver raced along the icy streets. Initially, I was pleased—he was taking our timing problem seriously. But then he headed into the forest, where he passed cars on blind curves and careened close to snowbanks, trying to get to the Autobahn faster. Visions of my husband watching as a head-on collision killed his wife and kids in the car before him flashed through my mind.

Somehow, we made it onto the Autobahn in one piece and got to the airport in record time. In retrospect, the taxi incident was a sign that we should have stayed home.

What do you think? Fact or Fiction?  I'll reveal the answer next Friday.


  1. My vote is....fact! Too realistically frustrating for fiction.

  2. Nah, never happened.

  3. I live in a taxi-free zone. So I say fiction only because it's all imagination for me. (how were we not following you before? good grief, we're behind!)