x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Taxes drivers' obsession with speed irks our columnist

Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane finds that taxi drivers put speed ahead of safety ¿ and she isn't amused.

Life in the fast lane has become a little too fast of late.

With my car undergoing reconstructive surgery at a garage in Al Quoz, I've been taking full advantage of the ever-replenishing line of taxis in front of my building. I never have to wait. I never have to walk. And thankfully (being a lady), I never have to whistle. Which is all marvellous! Aside from the fact that my regular driver appears to have graduated from the Stirling Moss School of Motoring.

Picture the scene one recent morning as I approach the front of the raring-to-go rank with my fingers crossed that I won't be forced to ride in a speeding, careering cab, yet again. No such luck. Door ajar, seat belt not yet fastened, we're haring towards the first set of traffic lights. I ask the driver to "please slow down" and presuming me to be a professional comedienne, he responds with a chuckle.

As we speed around bends and whizz past blurred buildings, one white-knuckled hand grips the door while the other reaches for the contents of my handbag. Recovery is no mean feat, as my seat belt has kicked into safety mode, pinning me to the spot and leaving my lipstick to roll on the floor.

As we hightail it through yet more traffic lights and break through the sound barrier, I tell the driver I am not in a hurry and insist that he "please slow down". He tells me to relax and explains that because there is no traffic we can drive fast.

Finally, we screech to a halt outside my place of work and I unfasten my safety harness to reach for my bag. But there's one more treat in store, for as I pull the dirhams from my purse, the car makes a series of bunny-hops forward and I get a good sniff of the headrest in front of me. My driver laughs again, explaining there is a car waiting behind us.

Insulted, injured, and feeling the effects of G-force I extend a Dh100 note to the driver for the Dh25 fare. He recoils into his seat and looks at the money as if it were a giant bar of bullion. I knew what was coming…"no change, no change!"

We finally settle the bill and part company. Yet as I watch him tear towards TECOM in a cloud of dust, I discover to my horror that I've left my keys in the back of his car. Ironically, my wish had come true. Nothing was going to slow my day down faster than sitting on my doorstep and waiting for a locksmith to arrive.