Don’t Bring A Knife To A Gunfight
My girlfriend is off on a trip to Paris, France to go to some fashion exhibition. We hit the major shopping outlets to get her kitted out for the cold weather and caught a flick. It was an otherwise forgettable day.
We boarded the sky train and headed back to Surasak, my neighborhood. I got a new high score on my cell phone game on the train to the resounding cheers of my old lady.
It being past rush hour on the weekend we got a taxi easily as the line was quite backed up. He knew my street and we sped away. It was just my luck as his taxi was the stinky kind and he made no bones about blasting that horrid Thai pop into our ears through his long blown speakers. I really hate juvenile inconsiderate taxi drivers. I was in the malaise of the 15-minute ride back from the train station when I felt the sudden influx of adrenaline as I narrowly avoided my millionth near fatal accident in the back of a Bangkok taxi. As the horns raged and the headlights flashed I glanced across at the motorcycle cop quietly being oblivious and wondered how many more of these idiots’ hands I could put my life into before my number was up. I doubted I would do much better behind the wheel myself as I have driven in Bangkok and my patience is not built for the inconsiderate driving that is the understated norm of the big smoke.
We screeched to a halt at the red light and as traffic piled up for the green the other more elderly taxi driver who comprised one half of the idiotic display of driving skill pulled next to our driver for some words. I am not schooled in Thai rude slang, but I could tell the exchange was not cordial. Our driver suddenly jammed the accelerator putting us in front of the other car and slammed the brake jumping out to escalate the altercation. I wasn’t about to lose my life to some retarded ill-educated taxi drivers so I looked over at my girlfriend and said, “We are leaving!” I threw 40 baht on the vacant driver's seat and as we piled out I saw our driver lunging at his now prone adversary’s body with a knife in hand.
Our driver turned to see us leave and it was like a switch went off in his head. He popped up and ran to his car putting it in drive and speeding away. As we got to the other side of the road and safety the elderly driver dusted himself off and got back into his car to pursue the other driver for round two. I took notice that the Thais in his back seat had remained stationary for the whole exchange. I hoped they wouldn’t become collateral damage in this Thai road rage quickly going wrong. The taxis played chicken down the road until they were out of sight.
We quickly got another taxi and were back on the road to my home. My girl started to admonish me for the wasting of 40 baht by leaving the other taxi surreptitiously. Apparently the gravity of the situation was lost on her. I just told her, “One had a tire iron, the other a knife…what comes after that? You don’t follow someone with a knife unless you have equal or better and plan to use it.” I had been working on a submission about Darwinism in Thailand and here I had evidence from not only my old lady, but also the strangers who were now on Mr. Toad’s Wild Death Ride courtesy of a raging taxi driver. My theory that Thais must lack a certain gene of self-preservation was about to be further confirmed in just a matter of seconds.
As we rounded the corner I saw an unfortunately familiar scene. We just left a life and death situation to now be faced with another. The red and blue ambulance lights spun as the corner near my house ran red with blood for the fifth time in less than a year. Another young speedster cut the blind corner and met his maker. They had already exorcised the corner of unlucky spirits three times this year (waking me up from a hung over sleep one day). The topic of tax dollars going to spiritual solutions that most likely won’t work above worldly solutions with proven effectiveness was going to be the topic of my next submission, but its coincidental occurrence this evening lent its mention here. I wondered when the corner would become fatal enough to stop relying on higher powers and just put a damn speed bump in. If the government refuses to educate their youth in vehicular self-preservation to a degree that allows them to make their own decisions they should at least put infrastructure in place which makes it harder for them to get themselves killed. I guess you can’t blame the government though, how long has it been since a major political figure was able to maintain his office for a full term?
To add the final spooky twist to this crazy night as we made the final turn to get into the parking lot the driver slammed on his brakes as one of those decrepit old ladies with the hump backs fell full on in the middle of the street nearly dying to a speeding motorcycle who damn near jumped the curb to avoid her frail form.
We got into my room and my girl turned to me to say, “Wanna go dancing at Khao Sarn?” I looked at her bug-eyed and exclaimed, “Fxxx that! If I ever saw a sign that it was time to spend a night at home then that was the best one. I am watching TV tonight!”
So I submit to you my fellow farangs another wild night in Bangkok. Never let your guard down for a moment, for that moment may turn into your last. The line between life and death is thinner than you think in Thailand.
On the subject of taxi drivers, just a few months I started getting much more selective about the cab I get into, something you can afford to do these days as there seems to be either more cabs on the road – or less people using them. I always go for an older driver and NEVER get into a cab with a guy aged under 30 wearing a t-shirt. Those punks are the worst!