“What street is that on love?” Our cab driver asked when we gave him the name of the restaurant we were going to. I should point out that he was talking to one of my female colleagues and was not referring to me as love.
We were on a business trip in Liverpool (five of us in total) and had been invited out to a fancy new restaurant which (we had been informed) every cab driver in the city knew. We had successfully busted that myth the moment we stepped into the cab but we did not hold it against him. It seemed that as a cab driver he was probably more familiar with the names of streets than the name of the properties upon them. So we gave him the name of the street was Brunswick.
“Right… Is that off Queens Street?” He asked us with a hint of confusion in his voice. Second theory busted.
We were not able to give him an answer to this question since we did not know. After all we did not have an intimate knowledge of the city’s layout that someone like… oh I don’t know… a cab driver might have for example.
“Ah… it’s ok. I know where it is.” He stated confidently as he began to drive. It seemed like he only needed a moment to think it through and that we were indeed in safe hands. We relaxed back into our seats, happy with the knowledge that we would soon reach our destination.
A grand total of 20 meters later…
“Excuse me mate. Do you know where Brunswick Street is?”
He had suddenly pulled up alongside another black cab and shouted across to its driver, asking for directions. The other driver didn’t seem to know but during the short exchange our driver seemed to have a small epiphany and assured us he remembered where it was. He started driving again. We relaxed again.
Ten minutes of driving around abandoned industrial estates and car junk yards later…
“Excuse me. Is Brunswick Street around here?”
This time he was asking a cyclist that we had just encountered (who was also the only person we had seen for the last 5 minutes). Considering the area I don’t think any of us except the driver was expecting him to reply with yes. Not unless the restaurant was located between an abounded campervan site and Honest Dave’s Scrap Iron Emporium but then again I’m not a restaurant expert. Unfortunately for us neither was the cyclist so we set off with the cab driver once again trying to assure us that he now knew the way for real this time.
Eight minutes of driving long the harbors edge later…
“Is there anyone you could phone for directions?”
We had seen it coming. He’d spent five of the last ten minutes nervously glancing at street signs and muttering under his breath as we got farther and farther away from the city center.
So we phoned the people we were supposed to be meeting at the restaurant and started to relay directions to our navigationally challenged driver. However, this proved to be a little too challenging for him so we just gave him the phone. After what sounded like a very confusing phone call (with all the confusion coming from his end of the conversation) he handed the phone back.
“Sorry about that. It’s not far now.” He assured us. Given his track record and the fact that he was turning the cab around as he said this it was not very convincing.
An awkward silence descended upon our cab as we drove back towards the city center where we had come from, an awkward silence which our driver decided to fill by playing Frank Sinatra… very loudly. I only wished it had been “I Did It My Way.” It seemed like it would have been a fitting metaphor as I imagined old Blue Eyes singing, “And I drove us… the wrong wayyyyyyyy!”
One and a half Frank Sinatra songs later…
“You see that building over there. That’s where passengers for the titanic picked up their tickets.”
This random fact came out of nowhere as he turned the music off. I was not sure if he was just trying to prove that he did know something about the layout of the city in which he worked or if he was just trying to tell us our journey could have been worse. Either way it was comforting to know that if we had told him we wanted to sail on the titanic he would have known where to have taken us.
And there our tale ends. We turned another corner and finally arrived at the restaurant which we quickly realized was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel where we had begun. We said goodbye to our easily lost cab driver and he set off on his way. The only tip he received was to buy a satellite navigational system. That way he might not end up lost in Liverpool again. I wonder if he was able to find his way back. Maybe he is still driving around Liverpool at this very moment, lost and listening to Frank Sinatra.