Monday, March 16, 2009

My ongoing quest to find the perfect cab driver

Driving in Doha is the worst (but not as bad as Dubai --bitches). Whether you own your own car, rent a loaner or are chauffeured, you will spend hours in a vehicle every week.

I am 23 years-old and I do not have a driver’s license. Take your pot shots now. How sad and pathetic.

That's enough. I used to think I was smart, surviving without a license and all, but it turns out I totally fucked myself in refusing to get a G1.

Back story: In Canada, I lived in the golden metropolis of Toronto (save my time spent in the KKK capital of the world, London, Ontario) so I didn't need a car. I lived downtown and thanks to Toronto’s world-class transit system, the clean and efficient TTC (are you listening Adam Giambrone? I love you) I got by without a car. I had a very small carbon footprint. I was awesome.

Adam Giambrone -- TTC Chair and spokesperson. Dream boat.

Plus, those years spent on public transit gave me a wealth of dually hilarious and horrible stories that I can whip out at parties. Speaking of whipping things out, how many times have YOU been flashed on the subway? I’m at three and counting….

ANYWAY. Via TTC you can get just about anywhere in Toronto in twenty - thirty minutes. You don’t need a car. In Doha…things aren’t as simple.

Doha doesn’t have a transit system. There are plans to build one, but that’s eons away.

People in Qatar can't survive without a license. Residents drive everywhere. It is clear I will need to adapt and become a mature licensed drivers, and soon. I *plan* to start lessons, but the thought of driving in this city makes me a little ill.
The temporary (permanent) solution is to find a trustworthy taxi driver and buy him out for a monthly fee.

Sounds simple, right? WRONG! Finding a driver who doesn’t freak me out or make me hate him has proved my greatest challenge in Doha-- greater than living without Clamato and even greater than life without my inbred puppy.

Here are my criteria for finding the lucky man, destined to become my personal chauffeur.

Ranked in order of importance:

1) no body odor
2) drives a clean car
3) has a firm grasp of the English language
4) no side eyes ( staring at me through the rear view mirror, fucking creep)

So far, I have met 15 or so cab driver that just will not do.I'd rather ride with this guy.

Last week, I met one driver who I thought lived up to my standards. He took me to work every day last week, and we got along fine. He was polite and quiet, his car was spectacularly clean and he was always ten minutes early.

He was almost perfect.

Yesterday on our drive to work, I was preparing to ask him to be my full-time driver. I was nervous and excited to commit to my new friend. What if he said no? Maybe he won’t like me! Are my palms sweating?

As we drove, I caught myself staring at his ears. They were really big. And really ugly. And they got bigger and uglier the farther we went. His ears were gigantic, with serious cauliflowering. Aren’t cauliflower ears the sign of a boxer? A man who BEATS PEOPLE UP for a living?
Heavens. Try staring at that before you've had your morning coffee.

I started envisioning my cabbie in a boxing ring, showing no mercy on opponents and generally being very violent.

We arrived at my work one minute later. When he asked if he should come at the same time the next day, all I could muster was a panicked, “Noooo” before I lunged out of the car.

This is going to be a brutal selection process.


  1. Wow...

    Boy do I ever have some qualms with your description of the "clean and efficient TTC"

    Actually, I will grant you clean. It is much cleaner than other public transit systems in similarly sized cities. But efficient? I would wager that it has the second least efficient public transit system of any large city I have ever visited (LA is worst). The TTC is excellent if you live in the following locations: The intersection of Yonge and Bloor. That's it. It's the worst. And trust me, I have lived here:

    Yonge and Lawrence
    and Eglinton
    and Davisville
    and St. Clair
    Dundas and Jarvis
    Queen and Vic Park
    Queen and Woodbine
    King and Niagara

    And I'm sure I'm missing a bunch. I've also worked all over the city and to say that you can get pretty much anywhere in 20-30 minutes couldn't be more incorrect. Here is my route to work:

    Walk (5)
    Wait for Bus/Bus Ride (15)
    Subway to Yonge (20)
    Subway to York Mills (20)
    Bus to Lesmill (15)
    Walk (5)

    1 hour and 20 minutes. I guess you were only wrong by an hour though.

    Or my trip to my old office (Right downtown)

    Walk (5)
    Wait for Streetcar (5)
    Sit on Streetcar (40)
    Walk (5)

    Fifty-Five Minutes to get from Queen and Woodbine to Front and Jarvis...

    How about my old work trip from Yonge-L to King-Bathurst?

    Walk (10)
    Subway (30)
    Streetcar (15)
    Walk (0)

    Hmm? Fifty-Five Minutes...I'm noticing a trend here.....

    However, it is nice to have such caring employees. The type that will announce that they are not going on strike to ensure a city that absolutely depends on public transit they will be safe and that they will continue negotiations. Then have a shock strike that night at midnight, absolutely screwing thousands of people downtown that cannot afford to take cabs to get to their houses and rely on the transit system to get home.

    Yea, the TTC. It's ggggreat

  2. My description of a "clean and efficient" TTC was placed extremely close to the words "Adam Giambrone." This was not an accident. They were written in hopes the spokesman's PR people would received a Google alert from my blog and show it to Adam. That is it.

    Google alerts are the best. I know that Daryn Jones read my disgusting post about him. I was also contacted by Vodafone PR people after I wrote about their promotion in Qatar.

    I was hoping this trend would continue with baby face Giambrone. Creepy? Yes. Clever? Double yes.

    BUT since you took the time to craft an impassioned response to my TTC article, I will respond accordingly.

    I know Giambrone has had his share of communications misfires, but he is so adorable! He fucks up, steps up to the mic and goes "sowwwwy," and pretty much all is forgiven. Does it not work that way for you?


    Look, I've also lived at many of Toronto's finest intersections.

    Yonge & Bloor
    Yonge & Lawrence
    Yonge & Eglinton
    Bathurst & St Clair
    Queen & Dovercourt

    Maybe I'm just really good at using the subway. I know that you actually possess a license, as your mother told you at 16 that you need a license and a credit card to be a man, or something to that effect. You said it in NYC, when we were really drunk.

    In other words, I surely have much more practice at riding the rails than you. I know the best possible routes to take at the best possible times. It is an art. Sure, I've gotten caught at York Mills station, waiting for the fucking Yonge 97 that comes every 45 minutes like a sucker, but such is life.

    With my knowledge of the TTC, I can get from Queen & Dovercourt to Front and University in 18 minutes flat. I’m no super woman, I just know EXACTLY what I’m doing.

  3. Oh goddamn it,

    I wrote a whole response to this, but must not have posted it.

    It was long. It was witty. It denounced all your crushes and ended with Duncan as VP of Marriott Canada having Adam Giambrone and Daryn Jones in a bare knuckle boxing fight for $10 and a buy 6 nights get the seventh free at Marriott discount.

    Adam Scott Sucks.

    I bet your rich Doha crush is gay.

    TTC blows and Giambrone is a idiot, being thrown into the fire by Miller who doesn't want to deal with a shitty, commanding union, a lack of funding, an inability to get funding from Prov or Feds, and a seemingly impossible dream of having it considered an essential service.

  4. I would really enjoy that bare knuckle boxing fight. Especially with Duncan as the ultimate victor. Thanks for that mind porn, Gord. You're the best.

  5. "Ranked in order of importance:

    1) no body odor
    2) drives a clean car"

    Wow, that's the Holy Grail of taxi drivers in Doha. If I found that when I was "taxiing" round Doha I'd have forgiven the lack of English *and* side-eyes ;)

  6.'re saying I should stop looking?

    Lower my standards?

    I refuse to settle.

  7. driving your own car is the best ever.


Ramble on...