The Turbulent Turbines of Torture (aka the plane) finally landed at 2:30 am despite the onslaught of delays that seemed just about endless. The frigid New York air was like a cool breath that pummelled my jet lagged senses into a quasi-alertness. The fact that I was currently standing in a crowd just outside the airport was nothing but infuriating, since all I wanted was to be sound asleep.
After being crammed between the window and a fellow passenger- who had her music blasting loud enough that it might as well have been a concert- I was left to resort to bodily origami. I don’t recommend it in any way, shape, or form. Literally and figuratively speaking.
I clung to the idea that I would soon be able to actually sleep. This dream was soon to become a reality because an Uber driver would be taking my mom and me to our destination in no time.
Or so I thought.
My mom opened up her Uber app and checked the location of our driver-to-be. “He’s right over–” she paused, “Are you kidding me? My phone just died!”. Three-and-a-half eyerolls later, I quickly downloaded the app on my phone and got a driver coming our way.
As we aimlessly walked around the perimeter of the airport, several cab drivers surrounded us.
Cab drivers are like the hyenas of airports. They lurk around every corner, waiting for their opportunity to scavenge through the tired and confused travellers. They have no mercy. None. I wouldn’t be surprised if they could smell desperation.
Soon six cab drivers were each bargaining to give us the cheapest and best ride. We denied their offers while backing away to make our escape quickly.
But the escape was futile– after several call attempts to the Uber, we officially determined that the driver had ghosted us. At this point it was about 3:15 am and it was becoming increasingly difficult to stay awake.
Like an impala who couldn’t run any longer, we finally gave into the hyenas.
The cab smelled like cigarette smoke and old cologne, but beggars can’t be choosers, I told myself. My mom told the driver where we needed to be and we were finally off.
About 15 minutes into the ride, my mom gets a quizzical look on her face and tells the driver, “You’re going the wrong way”.
The driver fires back, “I know where I am going. We are going to the Bronx,” in a heavily accented voice. As our destination was definitely not anywhere near the Bronx whatsoever, my mom and him ensued in a shouting match over directions. This is going to be a longer night than I thought.
After figuring out where we were and where we needed to be, the driver rerouted and pushed on through the foggy parkway at an astonishing 30 miles per hour. The erratic stops in the middle of the road and unruly jolts to start made me reflect on the wonder of seatbelts. Through the nausea and annoyance, I drifted off to sleep.
When I woke up, we were at a random gas station in a desolate town far from where we needed to be.
In the most aggravated voice possible, my mom informed me, “His GPS broke.” I pulled up Google Maps so that the driver could find his way back on route. Nearly 40 minutes later, we made it home.
Even though traveling is a hassle, there’s never a way to avoid the unexpected adventures it takes you on. Focusing on the destination to the point where we can no longer reflect on the journey doesn’t make any sense. So if you ever happen to find yourself in a sketchy cab in the middle of nowhere, just take a deep breath and remember to enjoy the ride.