It’s busy on the street, cars everywhere, mainly the yellow cabs racing past us. We hear a loud bang, immediately recognizable if you’ve heard it before, but something we’re not used to anymore in Europe. A blowout, the tire of a taxi has burst. One of the yellow taxis heads for the side of the road. The driver gets out of the car to look at a tire at the back of the car, not much is left of it. The passengers just sit and wait, expecting it will be solved somehow.
The Mercedes is relatively new and looks pretty nice, but when it drives uphill, towards me, I hear from far a loud rattling noise. The driver begins to slow down a bit but doesn’t seem to be bothered very much. Just when I cross the street, the car still at a distance, I see a wheel rolling towards me. For a second, my brain refuses to register the fact and arrive at the logical conclusion of what must be happening, but the following thump leaves little choice. Cars don’t drive on three wheels. The driver of the Mercedes stays a few seconds motionless before getting out of the car to inspect the damage.
Safety belts are never used in the backseats of the taxis, and after one attempt, we leave it at that as well. After gathering red dust for years, they leave unremovable stains on your clothes. So the fact that this one doesn’t have any, doesn’t really matter. We can only get in at one side of the car because the door on the other side doesn’t open anymore. Again, that doesn’t really matter, because you don’t want to get in at the side of the road, considering the risk to get hit by passing taxis. When we want to get out of the taxi, we need the help of the driver because there is no handle to open the door with. The driver reaches to the back and magically a string emerges from underneath the little remaining door cover. When he pulls it, the door opens. Once we get back in, he jumps out, leaving us a little amazed. He opens the bonnet and rumbles a bit around. With a big smile, he gets in the car again and just tells us “it’s an automatic car”.