Friday, August 08, 2008

chatty cabbies

I live about a mile away from the nearest train station. Frequently, on my way back to some late night dinner/concert/movie thing, for personal safety reasons I'll take a cab back rather than walk, much less wait for a bus that may not come because buses stop running at 11:30 pm.

I used to think this was rather princessy behavior (I have also been known to take cabs to and from airports in the cities I travel to where the public transport system is an unknown to me, or following some exhausting trip involving a late night/red-eye flight). Indeed, my old roommate was adamant that Real Women Take Two Trains and Walk Six Blocks With Heavy Luggage. But I have pretty much accepted this princessy aspect of myself. I've also come to really enjoy cab rides. Most cab drivers are a friendly lot, and I am quite friendly (my jokes about my own misanthropy are actually jokes at my own expense that no guy ever approaches me in a cafe or bar). In the more remote parts of the country, they always ask me where I'm from, and once I tell them, the next question is about the rent. They then tell me that I could afford to buy a large house with what I pay per month for a 700 sq. ft. 1 bedroom. I don't know what it is about me that says outsider, except that I am usually traveling to and from airports and hotels and the university at which the conference is being held. Yes, perhaps it is my So Cal intonation, were not my diction precise and occasionally arch. (Also, I try to avoid "like" and "you know" and do not end every statement with an upward tilt of tone such that I sound like I'm questioning my own existence when making a statement of fact or other such declaration. For example: "Like, you know, I'm Belle?") In the big ugly cities, I am occasionally surprised by the friendliness of the cabbies--either my winsome personality has the ability to disarm the most hardened of city dwellers, or I just happen to get the nice ones.

At any rate, I'm a friendly outsider, and I like getting the local scoop from the locals. I like talking to cabbies about real estate prices and learning about landmarks and the history of the city, and where to eat. It helps me get a feel for the place. Much better than traveling below ground or getting lost in a rental car. And some really awesome conversations.

Like, I learned a lot of things about my current neighborhood from my minutes-long cab ride tonight back from the restaurant from a guy who grew up within the few miles between my house and the university. He went to junior high and high school here and came back and taught here, and told me stuff about the public transportation system, the city, and how Liberal College City really is like a weird island of 18-22 year olds, and how my neighborhood only recently revitalized into a trendy area (which is why it's so cool, diverse, happening), etc. etc.

Really neat. I don't feel bad at all for taking cabs home anymore.

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