We can't let the Christmas season pass without noting one essential tradition.
I'm talking of "Catch A Cab."
I hear you ask, "what is this 'Catch a Cab' Christmas tradition thing?"
It's simple. Just stand on a corner and try flagging down a taxi.
(Three hours later)
Well, still waiting? No cab?
Oh look, what's that coming? An empty cab! Quick, flag it down!
Did you see that? The taxi just passed you by.
Well you're in luck, because here comes another one.
What's that? The cabbie asked where you were going and then just drove casually away?
That's "Catch A Cab."
It's a December tradition celebrated by thousands of extremely frustrated commuters who are just one taxi ride shy of turning postal. Through Christmas, finding a taxi is almost as difficult as finding your ninong on Christmas Day.
It's so bad you might think that an empty taxi is almost as mythical as Santa Claus.
I disagree. Santa Claus might by mythical but at least he still gives gifts. The only thing Manila cabbies give is ulcers.
Besides, empty cabs DO exist. I've been turned down by lots of them. Some even slow down and stop just for the very purpose of turning me down, not even bothering to listen to where I'm going.
The cab driver apparently reads my facial expression, or maybe the word balloon on top of my head, although I doubt that, because if he did he'd speed away, terrified that the word balloon is full of vivid, death-type blood-gushing hieroglyphs.
Why do cab drivers behave like this? Don't they want fares? Of course they do. It's just that because of the Christmas crush, traffic is horrid, moving at the same speed that a telco does when it has to repair your line.
So taxi drivers become picky, spending their time looking for the Perfect Passenger, someone who'll fulfill their dreams of buying that hacienda in Batangas and traveling on a European vacation in style.
A perfect passenger is someone who'll go a short distance and pay a high fare. Ideally, it's someone who'll just pay a high fare without getting aboard to ride.
That Perfect Passenger isn't you. So you're left high and dry on the street, hoping you'll catch a cab before Christmas -- of this year, to be more exact.
How do you deal with this problem? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Stay home.
2. Buy your own cab and spend your time driving around annoying passengers.
3. Take Uber. The downside is the rates will probably be on permanent "surge" mode and the fare might wipe out your Christmas budget, credit card and salary for the next six months.
This can put a damper on your festive spirit.
It's no use reporting infuriating cabbies to government agencies.
Those hotlines you're supposed to dial? They're decorative. I know, I've tried them. You'd be better off calling Santa.
Anyway why should government officials in charge of regulating taxis care about you? They're too busy with their own problems, namely rushing off to one Christmas party after another but stuck in traffic inside their plush chauffeur-driven cars.
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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.