Raphael and I spend a night out on the tiles. We drink, we talk, we enjoy the evening and soon it’s time to call it a night. I wonder whether I could walk back but Raphael thinks a taxi would be a better idea.
We are not far from Circular Quay and there is a taxi rank nearby. We venture out into the cooler air but the beer is keeping us pleasantly warm. The Museum of Contemporary Arts looms in front us, the lack of light making it seem more ominous than it really is. The sounds of revellery emanate from a nearby club and we can see a few people stumble out, laughing at their own private joke.
At the taxi rank, a mixed bunch of people are waiting too so we join the queue. A taxi pulls up and a pair of giggling women try to climb in but seem unable to walk straight. By the time they manage to do so, another two taxis whisk passengers away too. We’re next. We say our good byes and I open the door to a battered, unrecognisable car to go home.
In the foot well, an empty plastic bottle rattles nervously as I kick it out of the way. There is a wide assortment of bottles, papers and other items that are liberally spread around the front and back passenger seats. I know that some people’s cars are museums to their lives, I just never thought I’d have to enter through the gift shop.
I sit down and buckle myself in. There is a faint smell as if the owner left the windows open when it rained earlier this week and has yet to clean the upholstery. A radio squawks something unintelligible and the numbers on the meter blink at me.
I look at the driver and realise that he is waiting for me to give him directions. I give him the address and he guns the car up George Street and on to the Harbour Bridge. I settle down to a short trip home, glad that this driver is not the talkative sort. Just as the Sydney Opera House drops out of sight on our right, he turns to me and says, “What was that address again?”
He speaks in heavily accented English. I repeat the address. There is a slight pause and then he says,
I look at him and struggle to remember if the word “Taxi” was printed on the outside of the car.
“It’s in North Sydney,” I venture, slowly.
“We’re in North Sydney. Do you know how to get to your place?”
He continues to explain that he’s only been in the country for two weeks. I direct him up the Pacific Highway and we turn left into my street after a few minutes’ driving.
Needless to say, he doesn’t appreciate my offer to charge him for geographical services.
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