April 07, 2008



By Kajagugu © 2008

His name tag said Axel Pfeuffer and he looked like a clean cut, well groomed, educated fellow. He was kind and polite, held our doors open and put our bags in the trunk. That all changed when he finally got in and took his seat in front of the wheel.

"Buckle your seat beltz, bitte!"

It was more a command than a request. The thin horn-rimmed glasses came off and a pair of space age Oakleys took their place on a slightly twitching nose. He popped his neck once to left and twice to the right and cracked his knuckles. Then he put on a pair of fingerless black leather driving gloves and I knew he meant business.

"Where to and when do you need to be zere?"

The first part was understandable, but the second half made me tremble with fear. What taxi driver asks you a when/where question? Crap.

"Estrel convention center and take your time. We're in no hurry. Please..."

My plea trailed off at the end as he put the car in gear and we took off. He pulled a quick left hand u-turn out of the hotel taxi line across six lanes of traffic and barely missed a young lady on her bicycle. A little verbal hissing at her for being there in the first place and he floored it.

The first light we got to was red but as I quickly realized, apparently the Oakleys filter out that part of the visible light spectrum.

Then we hopped the curb in an S-shaped intersection. While we were in the air you could hear the engine revving up and the wheels spinning above ground. We landed with a thud and the G-force hit us as we zoomed on. It was kind of fun.

Fun in the Grand Theft Auto sense of the word because it felt completely surreal. Handbrake turns, squealing tires, narrow maneuvers through standstill traffic, back alley shortcuts. I could taste the metallic flavor of adrenaline in my mouth. Yumm-o.

I was about to say something but then just decided to let it go. He's obviously channeling Jason Statham in The Transporter right now and this doesn't look like it's his first time either. How often do I get to live an action scene like this?

The rest of the ride was a complete blur. I noticed it was not the same route we had taken the last few days. We actually drove through some depressed parts of the city and if I remember correctly through a farmer's market at one point.

When we made it to our destination the meter showed about a half Euro less than we payed the day before. The gloves came off and the horn-rimmed glasses took the place of the Oakleys again. He was out of his seat in a flash and opened our doors. He had our bags ready on the curb. We quickly paid him and said our thanks.

"My name iz Axel. What time should I be here to pick you up?"

Kajagugu is a wannabe poker player and veteran world traveler who now lives in Atlanta.

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