Leaving for the Conclave

March 7, 2013

Who amongst us did not take a taxi one day or the other to make it to an appointment or simply to relax after an exhausting day? Since my arrival in the Eternal City, I had ample opportunity to observe and to use this mode of transport at my own risk. The many white cabs are easily identifiable by their yellow and white logo, and they will take you to your destination, but not necessarily using the shortest path. Indeed, many tourists complain about over-billing, not to mention the unnecessary detours often attributed to heavy traffic. In this regard, they are somewhat similar to our Montreal taxi drivers, whom I like anyway.
 
But it is in the art of driving that they surpass all that I have seen and experienced. Woe to you, pedestrians, if you go ahead without looking a full 360 degrees. One taxi passing by may hide another flying at full speed. You have to see them to appreciate their driving, avoiding all obstacles while talking on their cell phones with great hand gestures, sometimes even with both hands. One lane does not flow? Never mind, there's a right lane or a left lane, just cut in and "basta alla polizia municipale" who's looking elsewhere.  

And all of a sudden, they can become extraordinarily polite behind the wheel, stopping abruptly to let a car or simply allow a pedestrian to cross the street. Meanwhile, the taximeter keeps on ticking... And again we take off like a rocket.  

The Cardinal usually goes to the Vatican in an official car. Yesterday morning, for some reason (most certainly a commission of inquiry will be held on this topic), the said car did not show up at due time. So we fell back on a taxi. The meeting was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. It was already 9:15 and I was wondering how we could possibly make it in time before the session begins. In his flowery Italian, the Cardinal explained the urgency of the situation. That was all it took to get our driver to showcase his talent and skills as a steering wheel artist. Zigzagging, cutting bikes and buses, avoiding pedestrians of any kind, he led us in a jiffy at the Paul VI Hall, without failing to send waltzing the journalists and the Swiss Guards at the entrance of the Vatican.  

That morning, I walked back to the residence.

Richard Saint-Louis, d.p. 


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