I had never been so infuriated in my life! I had just stepped off a plane and made my way through the Atlanta Airport to the taxi lane. I was directed to the curb to stand under number two when a driver pulled forward. I only had my carry-on and a jacket on my arm, unsure of what the weather would be in Atlanta after leaving a dark, cold, and drizzling D.C. My weather app showed sunny and sixty, but if it were windy, I thought I might need the extra cover. Not so. It was a beautiful day.
Anyway, the driver doesn’t get out, doesn’t even roll down his window, so I step to the back driver side door and pull the handle. The driver doesn’t move to unlock the doors, so I tap on the window of the passenger door, trying to get his attention. The doors are still locked as the driver looks back at me then hesitates before pushing the unlock button.
I pull the door open, push my bag onto the seat next to me as the driver asks where I was going with a very Cajun accent. I missed what he said the first time, so I say, “I’m sorry, what?”
He raises his voice and asks again, and I can just make out his words. I tell him I’m going to the Grand Hyatt and give him the address. He asks if that is in Downtown, and I say I’m not sure and give him the address again. He flicks his wrist at me and says OK before taking off down a highway.
If I had thought traffic in DC was bad, I knew nothing about the traffic in Atlanta! Wow, how congested the interstates become at all hours of the day.
The driver sped over thoroughfares with the windows down, blowing cool air over my face and my hair in every direction but straight. We head straight towards the skyscraper buildings including one covered at its peak in gold. D.C. has huge buildings, but seeing these out of the context of an area I have lived in all my life has me in awe.
The driver speeds through yellow lights, almost running down a pedestrian as he yells out the window some obscenities I don’t understand with his accent. He finally slows down and makes a sharp left turn, sending my luggage flying across the backseat and smacking against the opposite door. He stops abruptly at the Hyatt Regency and says in his heavy accent, “Payment, please.”
I lean forward and take a look at the hotel in front of us and shake my head. My gut is telling me to get out of the car and ask the hotel to arrange for my transportation to my real lodging, but I don’t want my work to have to pay for two modes of transportation for what should be one trip. I’m stubborn, I know.
“I’m staying at the Grand Hyatt, not the Hyatt Regency.”
He said, “The other Hyatt is in Buckhead. You said Downtown!”
His anger fuels mine, and I snap back. “I have no idea where I’m at, and I gave you the address.”
“You wasted my time!” He yells.
I’m travel weary, hungry, and tired. I just want to get to my hotel room and relax, so now I’m shaking with my anger, on the verge of tears and raise my voice back. “Do you want me to get out?”
He quickly reverts back to his soft spoken accent. “No, I’ll take you there.”
Before I have a chance to stay anything else, he slams on the gas and peels out of the hotel parking lot back, heading back to the interstate. I fall back into my seat and stare out the window, my anger still hot in my veins.
As the heat wanes, I seriously begin to contemplate my safety in a vehicle with a strange man who obviously was angry with me, so I pull up my Maps app and make sure we are heading in the right direction this time. Sounds silly now looking back, but I’ve watched too much Law and Order not to be concerned about an angry taxi driver.
I take pictures of windows which show which cab I’m in, what number to call for questions or comments about your trip, and the rates for every trip type for the metropolitan area. I have every intention of calling about his behavior, but I never do.
We finally pull up to the Grand Hyatt after fighting more traffic, and the driver holds out his hand. I roll my eyes and place my card in it. I grab my stuff and step out of the car, desperate to be done with the horrible transportation.
He rolls down his window, hands me my card, and asks me to finger sign his tablet. I follow his instructions, moving through prompts for a tip and contemplate not giving one, but guilt pangs me. I hand back the tablet, and just as he is putting the car back in gear, I ask for a receipt.
He huffs as he hands the tablet back to me and says, “Put your email in.” I do and send myself the receipt. As I hand back the tablet and turn to walk away, he yells out the window, “No tip?”
I turn back to his window disgusted now that I did put one on my tab. “There is a tip.”
“OK,” is all he says before he speeds away, coming close to running my toes over.
I shake my head and grab my rolling luggage as the past thirty minutes douse me with a mixture of anxiety, anger, and disgust. The look on my face must have shown it all as I stood in the middle of the guest transportation drive. The concierge steps up to me with a big smile and asks if he can take my bag. I fight back tears as my emotions begin to dissipate and try to smile back with a nod.
The concierge guides me to the check-in desk and asks how my travel was, and I can’t help my honesty.
He looks back at me with an apologetic smile, somehow putting me at ease almost immediately. “Well, hopefully your stay here will be a better experience. If you need anything, please let me know.”
I nod again as I step up to the counter. “Thank you. I may take you up on that for my trip back to the airport.”
One of the worst experiences I have ever had in a taxi was in Atlanta, but I refused to allow it taint my trip while I was there. I enjoyed CAPstone 2018 and every other part of my Atlanta journey. Those are the memories I keep, and now that I have vented this disaster taxi ride, I can forget it ever happened. However, I will stick to Uber or Lyft for transportation from now on.