While I have a few minutes…well hours…before my flight, I promised a post on my experience with taxis. First, it seems I will never learn my lesson about checking in, or should I say attempting to check in, more than 90 minutes before my flight at international airports. What good does a membership to the Admiral’s Club with American do when I only have a few minutes to use it internationally? Sorry, enough bitching for the day…!
So, lesson number one: never assume your taxi driver only speaks enough English to get you to/from your destination. Tuesday evening the hotel arranged for a taxi to take us into Milan proper. When he arrived and we settled in his Mercedes wagon for the trip I commented on a taxi that actually had music on the radio and not Italian talk radio. In my job, I have learned the fine art of reading micro expressions people make while interacting with others. When I commented on the radio from the back seat, I caught a “tell” that Pietro, our driver for the night, understood what I said. It is a good thing I caught it because I was about to make a comment about his ample girth…okay he was a (as we say in the south) big ole corn fed boy! I mean he had to have used a shoe horn to get in his driver’s seat! My brain engaged the muffler on my mouth and kept that comment at bay. A few minutes later as we were driving by what appeared to be a grocery store, I asked my colleague from Belgium what type store it was. When he commented it looked like a shoe store, Pietro chimed in… “Yes, it is a shoe store” then went on to inform us which of the “luxury” brands of shoes were still actually made in Italy. He is quite passionate about “Italian shoes from China” and adults wearing Crocs! “Crocs are for children…not grown men…especially in public,” he said many times!
At some point, his tablet rang and he swore in Italian (according to my colleagues who know Italian cursing) then answered the call. I understood “tarifs” was the point of the conversation so it must have been his accountant or lawyer. The other colleague from the UK who spoke some Italian later confirmed he was talking about year end taxes and had some colorful language for his accountant. Shortly after that call, he received another one that turned out to be from his printer. He is updating his business card/receipt and the three of us were asked to proof the sample and critque the English, all while he was navigating through the tiny cramped streets of the center of Milan . Pietro was a great find. He agreed to come back to pick us up when we were finished jokingly asking if we were ready for the discotechque (night club). Oh, as we pulled in to our hotel that night Pietro informed us the “ladies” on the street worked for the Albanians who owned our hotel and recommended not leaving the hotel after 11 p.m. Great advice!
The local business unit provided car service to and from the office. Those drivers didn’t speak very good English; however, one of them spoke French. My colleague from Belgium also speaks French and told us the driver asked who had booked our hotel because it was very bad and in a not so good part of Monza. I tried to stay at a Marriott but it would have been a 2 hour drive with Italian traffic so my colleague from the UK had his assistant book this one.
The best taxi ride was the 15 minutes from Monza city center back to our hotel Wednesday evening. But firist I little about our meal. The restaurant recommended by the hotel employee had the look and ambience of a mob hang out. There weren’t too many paying customers in our area but several men entered and went through a curtain near the back of the dining room never to be seen again while we were there. However, the wait staff was busy carrying wine, pizza, and meals back there all night. I must comment on the pizza served as a pre meal appertif in lieu of bread. Brick oven fired. Simple toppings of fresh tomato sauce, cheese, and herbs (basil, oregano, and thyme) all married beautifully together on a delicate but sturdy crust with just a touch of char on the outer edge. Magnifico!
Now, the ride back to the hotel. It was obvious the driver spoke English from the start. I didn’t know that form Italian PM Berlusconi was from near Monza and when my colleague asked how far his home was from Monza we got more than we bargained for in the answer. We didn’t get his name but he went on to tell us how he had once picked up a MILF at 11 pm one evening, making sure we all knew what MILF meant, who asked to be taken to House Berlusconi. He continued regaling us with how he asked her if she was going for business or pleasure….her reply to him: “House Berlusconi to fuck Berlusconi…” All three of us lost it and burst out laughing. But…he wasn’t done. When he got near the perimeter of House Berlusconi he was stopped by the military providing security. When he reported the name of the passenger the security said she was not on the guest list. Apparently, she then informed the solider she was there to “fuck Berlusconi” and was allowed to enter. Wow. he wasn’t holding back. Again, as we got close to the hotel we started seeing the hookers. He informed us they were “gypsies” working for the Albanians and of course had a story.
A young couple approached his cab one night and asked about the fare to a destination. When he informed them of the rate, the lady got in by herself and explained they didn’t have money and asked if she could “fuck him for the fare…” He protested so she got out and said something to her guy friend who then climbed in the car. Apparently, he asked the driver something to the effect of ‘since you don’t want my woman to fuck you do you want to fuck me for the fare’…His alleged reply had me laughing for 5 minutes, “no fuck taxi driver for fare…” As we pulled in to the reception area he laughed and repeated “12 euros…no fuck taxi driver…” We all laughed until we were crying. Great stuff.
I can only hope I have such great taxi drivers in the UK!