Scoot Commute

Mario, Taxi Driver Extraordinaire in Chicago-land

Posted in Utter nonsense by sbahn on 2013/10/14

So I’ve been away. In the suburbs of Chicago. For work. Lemme tell ya, the suburbs. I don’t know how people live in them. I’m so happy I never have, and want to die never having had the experience.

That said, I’d like to give a HUGE SHOUT OUT to Mario, the best cabbie I’ve ever had (this from someone who lived in New York for a decade).

He called me FOUR TIMES to ask where I was (on a college campus) as he needed specific directions. I kept saying “I’m from Rhode Island, I don’t know where the feck I am!” and that was enough direction to get him to me. Point One!

Where I was, actually, was on the Wheaton College campus (there’s one in Illinois, who knew?), standing in front of the Billy Graham Center. It’s a ginormous building, complete with busloads of Chinese tourists spilling out randomly before boarding large tour busses.

Mario shows up, a few minutes late from our original pick-up time, but I had worked in plenty of traffic-jam time so we were all good.

I’ve experienced the scariest, oh my god we’re gonna die, taxi ride to JFK already, so really, what could Mario throw at me? You know what? He was me…and I’ve never had THAT experience.

This is a guy who yells at the traffic, by marque name, and pulls lane changes with millimeters of space to spare. In other words, my kinda driver.

Turns out, he used to have both an R1 and a YZ250 2-stroke. And I was his “motorcycle girl” for the afternoon. We drove together, me yelling “c’mon Pontiac, what’s yer problem? Pass pass pass! Ok, Mario, we got it, GOOOOOOO!”

At one point, a train was just starting to cross the roadway in front of us.

“Did you see the limo?” he asked. I hadn’t. I’m not a cab driver. “He took the left, through the parking lot. Do you see any cops?” Mario asked.

“No. We got this.”

Tight turn to the left, through the parking lot. We’re now at a driveway, about to try to cross SIX LANES of traffic.

“Any cops?” he asks.

“No, we’re good. Go go go, go across the three!” I shout.

We’re halfway across the highway, and now I see an 18-wheeler coming towards.

“Goooooo! We got this!” I scream, as we turn left into three lanes of traffic. “Go go go…don’t hesitate, go little Caravan!”

Now we’re in a war with the freight train. It’s running along us on the right.

Mario says that we have to cross the tracks to get onto airport ground.

“C’mon, go go. Stupid Prius, what are you doin’?!” I scream.

We’re weaving in and out of traffic, now down to two lanes in each direction. It must be a difficult stretch as we pass not one, but two, patrol cars, lights flashing, with sad motorists pulled over.

Mario says to me, “Do you know the Tenere?”

“The 660?” I ask.

“Yamaha brought the Tenere into America.”

“Yeah, I know, but it’s the big pig. Not the baby Ten. Now THAT bike, I’d buy in a second. Just like the Africa Twin.”

Mario pauses. I think he’s thinking, who the hell is this chickie in my cab? This girl who knows from Marc Coma and hates Cyril Despres and rooted for Joan Barreda on the Husky in the Dakar 2013.

He ventures, “Do you know the Transalp?”

“TA? Of course, the boyfriend has one.”

Mario proceeded to tell me that he was in the market for a TA awhile back, and travelled a couple hundred miles to have a look at one. The guy hadn’t revealed that he had done some awful work on it, including changing the original colors and dropping it a gazillion times.

He said to me, “You know, I wanted my childhood dream. You gotta buy an original when it’s a dream.”

When I told him we got the boyfriend’s 1989 Transalp from the original owner, who cried (at 73 years of age) as he handed over the keys, Mario and I minted our relationship. Twenty years from now, if I need a pick-up from O’Hare, Mario’s got my ass.

We pulled a right onto airport property, and I could just barely make out the train heading in our direction. The man is a driving genius.


2 Responses

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  1. Bud said, on 2013/10/20 at 5:18 am

    YAY Mario!! I had the pleasure of riding with him from Downers Grove in September, what a treat! He’s awesome!

    • sbahn said, on 2013/10/20 at 5:29 pm

      Mario IS awesome. I’ve ridden in a lot of cabs, and I had the best time with Mario driving. He obviously loves his job. If you need a cab ride in suburban Chicago, call him!

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