"Where you guys goin'?"

Photo by: Feelart (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)  

Photo by: Feelart (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

 

Being sober for the last four months has changed more than a few things, but most relevant are: (1) decreased spending on any given weekend, (2) decreased number of people who want to hang out with me on Saturday nights while I sip soda water through a skinny straw from a glass with a lime floating in it, and (3) how often (drastically less often) I find myself in the back of an unlicenced taxi.

“Speedy?”

“Speedy."

“You’re not [name removed]."

“…."

“Where’s [name removed]?”

Regardless of my not being [name removed], like I claimed to be on the phone, we’re urged into Speedy’s car – which is a conspicuously low, forest-green Chrysler 300 that actually does smell like a taxi – and asked, somewhat discourteously, “Where you guys going?”

Speedy is the name (or codename?) of Ottawa’s most consistently inconsistent unlicenced taxi service. I don’t usually make these calls; as a sober person, they make me feel more than a little uncomfortable. We’ve been instructed by [name removed] to address both the operator and the driver as “Speedy.” The reason I lied about my identity on the phone (and why “Speedy” is not necessarily reliable) is that if Speedy-the-operator gets even the slightest indication that maybe you don’t sound like a drunk twenty-something looking for a cheap ride to [any shitty bar or club], but instead like an undercover police officer conducting a sting operation, Speedy-the-driver will not show up, and seeing as how their operation is less than legitimate, they also won’t bother to let you know that they’re not coming (which has happened twice before).

“How’s your night so far?”

“Huh?” reaching over to turn the music down.

“Your night; driving.”

Giving me a "why are you talking to me?" look, he turns the music back up.

I think he’s still pissed that I’m not [name removed].

In light of our city’s current interest in the subject (CBC), and in an attempt to make this whole thing a little less self-absorbed than it could be, I’ve chosen to use my blog not only to share my unbiased (ie. completely biased) opinion on the complicated socioeconomic issue of Ottawa’s war on UBER, but my experiences and conversations with the drivers who are risking $20,000 fines to give you $20 (or less) rides to [that shitty bar] on a Saturday night.


Matthew Thibeault

Matthew is a writer of both fiction and nonfiction whose work has appeared nowhere in particular.

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Stuff he reads: Harper's | The Walrus | Oxford American