The Cab Ride, Part 1
Candace came out of the train station and squinted at the sun. It was late afternoon, and warmer than she expected, and the glare made it hard to see. She was fashionably dressed in a bright red dress and carried a small black designer clutch.
She followed the signs toward the Taxi stand and looked around for one marked “Opera Express.” She saw it immediately. There was no one in line. At least she didn’t have to wait too long in the sun.
The directions on her smartphone said it was about a ½ hour cab ride from the train station to the opera house. She always checked the route because she heard stories about crooked cabbies who ran up the meter by taking the long way. She was looking forward to some quiet time with nothing to do.
She was not happy about having to spend the night going to the opera. She never understood what any of the singers were singing about, and the lavish costumes looked silly and pointless.
She was going to miss her favorite TV shows and a night at home, but her boss had been clear about the need to accept the opera tickets and make nice with the client who had given them to her firm.
Frustrated about the assignment and a little grumpy about the weather, she slid into the back seat of the cab, slouched down in the seat, and already wished that the half-hour drive was over.
She hoped the cabbie would keep quiet because she was in no mood for idle chitchat on the way to a place she didn’t want to go, in a city she didn’t want to be in and wasting time she didn’t have to waste.
“Good afternoon, ma’am.” Came the cheery voice from the front seat. She groaned inwardly and mumbled a response.
“Going to the opera, are we?”
“This is the Opera Express, right? She answered, slightly sarcastically.
“Just checking, you’d be surprised how often people don’t read the words on the door.”
“Yes, I’m going, but not of my choice.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show. Have you been to the opera much?”
“A time or two. I’m really not much of a fan. it’s always boring, and I can’t understand what’s going on anyway.”
“You know, I used to feel exactly the same way about the opera.”
Surprised, she said, “Are you a big opera fan?” Somehow, she didn’t expect the cab driver to know anything about the opera, let alone be an aficionado.
“Yes,” came the enthusiastic reply. “I think knowing something about the opera was one of the reasons I got the job. The opera house is quite picky about who drives their patrons to the show.”
Once again, she was a bit surprised. Somehow the cheery temperament and the surprise revelation that this man knew something about the opera got her attention, just a little.
“How do you even tell what’s going on in the story?” She queried.
“Some operas are a lot harder to follow than others. The one you’re going to see tonight is actually one of the easier ones to connect with.”
“Yeah, I guess we’ll see.” She looked at her phone, hoping that the driver would notice her intentional shift in focus and stop trying to make her enjoy something she was certain would be a disaster.
After just a minute of silence, the driver spoke once again. “Sorry I didn’t introduce myself, I’m Bill, and I’ve been driving this cab to the opera for ten years. I love it.”
Surprised again, she wondered how someone could enjoy driving a cab at all, let alone for ten years. She wanted to end the conversation but somehow felt like she had to ask one more question.
“Okay, I’ll bite. Why do you get such a kick out of driving people to the opera?”
“Well, you meet all kinds of people. Some folks know a lot about the shows they’re going to see. I love listening to them talk about the music or the story on the way. That’s one of the ways I learned as much as I have about each opera. You’d be surprised at the different opinions people have.”
She looked out the window at the surroundings and realized they were stopped at a complicated six-point intersection. “This light sure is taking forever,” She complained.
“There’s no way to avoid this intersection on the way from the train station to the opera house. Nobody likes it, and it has earned its own name, The Death Star. Not because there are a lot of accidents, but because you get bored to death while waiting. The star comes from the six points in the intersection.”
The light changed, and they started moving. “Finally,” she muttered under her breath.
Undeterred by her pessimistic mood, Bill continues. “You asked earlier how to understand the storyline and follow what’s going on. I can give you some tips if you like to make the show more fun tonight.”
Realizing that it was hopeless to wish the cabbie would be silent, she decided to play along. “Okay, tell me. At least that way, it might be a little less boring.”
“The first thing to do is to know a little bit about the story before you go. Sometimes they give you a brochure with the story, but it’s usually better to take just five minutes and look the opera up online. That way, you know the character names, the storyline, so it makes sense.”
“Okay, that makes sense.”
“Since I’m sure you didn’t have time to do that, let me tell you just a little bit about why this opera tonight is so much fun. First of all, it’s a story of mystery and intrigue. There’s love involved, jealousy, excitement, and triumph in the end.
“Really, all that is in the story?”
“Yes, it is, and I’ll tell you how to prepare yourself so you can follow it.”
She decided this wasn’t as bad as she thought and leaned forward a bit in the seat so she could pay more attention and not miss any of the good stuff.