Christmas is a time that brings out a whole array of emotions, and there is certainly no small contingency which abhors the whole holiday experience. The Bah-Humbugs abound, if for any reason because much of the season can be challenged as a farce, a time for trivialities, a string of phony and affected celebrations that often mean little to people deep down. And that’s not to mention the deluge of… Yes, despite what everyone remembers about the tale, there was a hint of truth to much of Scrooge’s discourse about the hypocrisies of Christmas and a careful reading of the story makes that clear. The old git wasn’t that far off. The thing is Ebenezer overlooked the positive points to the day, which is a clear indicator that he never had a chance to live the Disney experience.
Alas, if there is one sector in the Spanish workforce which welcomes navidad with open arms, it’s the taxi driver syndicate, one the most tightly knit guilds in the city. Cabbies in Madrid can often be friendly folk, especially if you can speak their language, because don’t count on many knowing English. That makes me realize that there is a niche in the ESL market there. I wonder if anyone has taken advantage of it. Anyway, I enjoy chatting with them on the way to wherever I go, not every does, I understand, but I have also discovered that taxi drivers are by nature extremely pessimistic human beings. There is, as a rule, nothing that satisfies them, and even less that makes them happy. It’s like being chauffeured around town by Archie Bunker. But Christmastime is a whole nother matter. Christmas dinners bring cheer, which in itself is brought on by a lot of drink, and that is what keeps people from getting behind the wheel. It’s not the worry about crashing your car into a lamp post or running over an unwary pedestrian that really gets them, it’s the road blocks, the ticket, license removal and shame that drive them to seek safety in a taxi. But whatever the reasons, as long as it keeps them off the road, it’s all right with me. Anyway, cabs are a hit on these dates especially on Friday, December 12th, one of the busiest nights of the year. Future diners line the street and eye each other suspiciously as they await a taxi. No one wants to be rude, but no one wants to be late either. It’s human nature on a street corner.
As one of the last to arrive and noticing three other groups before me, I knew it would take a while, so I drifted off to a more remote nook where, to my great fortune, a cab with a green light lit up top indicating it was free passed. I jumped in and gave him directions and immediately brought up the matter of how tough it was to find an available taxi.
“Yeap,” he said with reservations.
“It’s good news for you taxi drivers.”
“It’s not bad,” he admitted grudgingly. Extracting that sort of high spirits from a cabbie was nothing less than a miracle. I wanted to remind him that on December 31 he was going to be able to charge anyone who even sits in his car an extra 7€ and take you someplace. It’s the highest New Year’s supplement in the European Union, so they should have little to complain about. Plus, gas prices have plummeted.
“Not bad for now,” he added. “But they’re the only two good weeks of the year. The rest are hell.”
There you go! That’s what I like to hear.