Tue | Sep 19, 2017

As a Man: Can you really fight that terrible taxi driver?

Published:Sunday | December 20, 2015 | 12:00 AMMelville Cooke

Our daughters are a year apart in the education system. A few years ago, when the eldest was in first form in high school and the younger in that post-GSAT period, I was heading to St Richard's Primary on the morning rounds. We got to Barbican Square before the physical traffic guides were as well established as they are now, and, as usual, a taxi driver took the outside lane and then attempted to bore his way in.

The driver in front of me contested the move, inching his/her car ever closer to the taxi which was pushing forward. The game of 'driver dare' ended with the taxi still on the outside, so now it was my turn to tackle him. My younger daughter urged me to do so and, when I did not, was disappointed and asked how I could have let the taxi driver do that.

I pointed out a few facts to her: her sister had been placed in the high school of her choice and chances are, she would soon be at the same highly valued institution. I pointed out to her that our little family was doing ok - we lived in a house we could look forward to actually owning in about 16 years, her little brother had been born healthy, and food was on the table at meal time.

Then, I told her I would not jeopardise all that, which I value highly, through a fender bender with a taxi driver for whom bad driving is a way of life. For after the car scrape, anything can happen and, taken to the extreme, I could either end up in a 'deadhouse' or jai house. In both situations, I would not be around for my family.

She agreed.

Then I explained the snob part of my decision, which remains standard - to let taxi drivers who are road hogs (and, certainly, not all of them are) the right of way at all times. I told her that my life has very little or nothing in common with that taxi driver's, save for living in the same country, and I was not about to allow them to get intertwined through an accident which could be avoided.

She agreed.

For those readers who are drivers in Jamaica, it is something to think about. Before you take on the taxi driver who is doing all manner of evil on the road, think about it. Do you really want your life to become entangled with someone of the mindset which can produce the type of driving he is displaying?

Also, think about this. There is so much beyond your control wrapped up in that one driver. There is the far-less-than-ideal education system which, chances are, he is a low-performing product of. There is the car-importation policy which has flooded the country with Japanese 'deportees' which, when used as taxis, are often poorly maintained. There is corruption at the examination depot which may have passed a car that is unfit for the road - corruption which probably gave the driver a licence in the first place - without him reaching the required basic standard.

Add to that the corrupt police who have probably let him off the hook for multiple previous infractions, as long as he could 'let off' something. Add to that inadequate housing in the city which could have that driver sleeping in stressful circumstances, as well as an unplanned city which makes him necessary in the first place.

Whoever thinks they can fight and fix all that in one driving encounter with a taxi driver can go ahead. Call me a wuss but me, as a man, jus mek dem gwaan.

melville.cooke@gleanerjm.com