Thursday, September 20, 2007

Love Those Cabs Taxi!

Before I get to the "old posts" from the summer when the blog turned Flemish, I thought I'd start right off the bat with today's little taxicab adventure.

I hailed a cab at the taxi stand in front of the Marriott. Usually I have a huge complex when it comes to telling the driver where I want to go, because, undoubtedly, I am mispronouncing the French name of the street. No, make that slaughtering the French name! Not today, no sirree. Today, I confidently told the driver the address where I wanted to go. I say, "confidently", because I was going to Avenue Franklin Roosevelt. American-easy.

We hit lots of traffic in the Sablon, something to do with a bus that was parked in the middle of the street while the driver was outside of his bus talking to a busdriver who was parked on the other side of the street. By the time we cleared party central, I knew I was going to be late for my 2:00 appointment, especially since the cab driver insisted on stopping at EVERY crosswalk, regardless of whether there was a light or even a person waiting to cross!

As we turned onto Ave Franklin Roosevelt, the cab driver verifies (again) the street number. In French, I told him 84 ("quatre-vingts quatre" to all you that have not had 30 hours studying the French alphabet and numbers!). Quatre-vingts quatre, he asks? Oui, huit -- quatre, I reply as he is pulling up in front of number 48. No, I say, huit quatre, non quatre huit.

The cab driver starts arguing with me and pointing to the building number, which, was only slightly less larger than the name on the building -- ULB. (ULB is one of the universities here in Brussels.) No matter how much I insisted that we were at 48, not 84, he just kept pointing at the building number and saying (louder and louder) "huit quatre". Irritated, late and approaching my breaking point, I mustered all remaining calm I had left in me and said, "Yes, there's a huit and there's a quatre, but it's NOT huit quatre!"

If nothing else, the cab driver was persistent. He just kept on pointing to that huge-ass 48 on the side of the building. At this point, I was pretty much yelling, "huit quatre, huit quatre", because, you have to admit, it is so much easier than yelling "quatre-vingts quatre, quatre-vingts quatre"! He just kept agreeing with me and pointing to the street number.

Finally, he pulled out a pad of paper and pen and asked me to write down the number. Now, the intelligent side of me realized that if his dyslexic ass couldn't decipher the number 48 when it was posted in pretty-much life-sized letters on the side of the building, then there was a better than average chance that me writing it on his little post-it note was not going to make the 48 an 84. I hate to be cruel, but, let's face it, if you suffer from dyslexia, I don't think a career that requires you to spot numbers and read street signs is the wisest career move. I could be wrong.

So, I took his pen and his pad of paper and I wrote "84" and then under that, I wrote "48" and pointed to the building. The driver pulls away from the curb and starts to make a U-turn, all the while saying "oui, huit-quatre." Yep, just another normal day in the life of The Belgian Years!


Post a Comment

<< Home