Scab Cab Ride

ROME — So, yeah, I rode in a scab cab. I didn’t know it though, when I got in. It was a relatively long ride, 20 to 25 minutes or so, but it didn’t really get interesting until we began to weave our way around a small roadblock on the road parallel to the Circus Maximus. The obstruction consisted of a handful of cabs, a half-hearted attempt at best.

“Signore, is there supposed to be a strike?” I asked the driver.

“Yes,” he said, “will be big problem.”

That came as we approached the Piazza Venezia, the enormous square filled with massive marble structures that celebrate the glory that was Rome. There were lots of cabs, hundreds perhaps, blocking roads on every side of the square, while drivers stood in small groups chatting, smoking, drinking coffee, and making plans for more glory.

Until my driver tried to to get through one of the roadblocks.

That was when the taunting began, at first playful, before the anger amplified. Pretty soon things were being said about my mother, my grandmother and her mother.

“We go another way,” the driver said.

Yup, brilliant idea.

He slowly wormed out in reverse, but the glares continued in our direction, so clearly visible despite the darkness of night. We wound up several blocks out of the way, weaving in and out of narrow streets, barely squeezing by cafe tables and walking drunken merrymakers. Several tapped our hood along the way.

When I finally reached my hotel 25 euros later, the driver wasn’t particularly at ease, but did seem relieved. As I got out, two young American women, dressed for clubbing, approached.

“Sorry,” the driver said, “he was my last ride.”

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