Hello Hello

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hanes Mall Blvd., 11:39 AM

In DC, you could get into any of the thousands of taxis, give a street address - no cross street, mind, just the number and street name - and the driver would take you straight there. Well, not straight by the way the crow flies. The city of Washington was designed by a Frenchman and modeled after Paris, which means it boasts lots of traffic circles, one way streets that start and stop and start again a few blocks later, avenues divided by squares of greenery so that a single intersection has sixteen corners.

And yet I never met a taxi driver who seemed daunted. On the contrary, they'd speed down side streets, shortcuts I'd try to remember for later, laughing in French into their cellphones while West African music played a fraction too softly for me to make out. Sometimes the music was from Ghana or Senegal. Sometimes there would be no music but talk radio, angry voices from the suburbs arguing about situations in remote places. Nearby Prince George's County was as distant to me as Mozambique. Now it's considered close-in, and I'm the one who's far off.

City of Winston-Salem Department of Transportation, which regulates vehicles-for-hire
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