The Art Of maxi Travel (a survival guide)|
Shivonne Du Barry, Newsday News, Sunday, May 11th, 2008
In recognition of the fact that public transportation in this country should not be attempted without some sort of guide, I’ve decided to share the accumulated wisdom of years of ethnographic research travelling in maxi taxis. Like politics, maxi travel has a morality of its own. Your car may be in the shop one day so take note.
1) Learn the sign language involved. That funny thing the driver is doing with his hand could mean “short” or “straight up” or “move fast ole lady before I bonks yuh”. By no means should you ask him to clarify unless you’re a tourist. Get in and cross your fingers if you don’t understand.
2) Don’t have the audacity to ask the driver if he’s going anywhere further than “short”. You don’t want to sour his mood any further. Take four maxis to get to your destination if you have to.
3) Touts are mysterious creatures who get people to take maxis they would take anyway. You’re never going to hear, “I was going Chaguanas but that tout real convincing. I think I’ll go Sando instead.”
4) Be careful not to slight the old maxis. You will need them next time it rains.
5) Don’t sit in the front seat if you have strong views about politics, religion or current affairs. This is especially important during election season.
6) If you do sit in the front seat, be prepared to quickly put on your seatbelt (if there is a seatbelt) should you encounter a police road block.
7) The little fold out seat is surprisingly strong and can hold in excess of 300 pounds.
8) If you don’t enjoy music charmingly peppered with references to female genitalia, wear headphones.
9) If you attempt to ask the driver to change the music because it “offends” you, please be prepared to get out and walk.
10) It is perfectly normal for a driver to hold a cell phone with his left hand and make change with his right, while steering the vehicle with his belly.
11) Sleeves are always a good idea. Chances are the person sitting next to you won’t have any. This could lead to the common scenario whereby the flesh on your respective arms sticks together with a paste of sweat and dirt. The inevitable un-sticking that is required is the most awkward part.
12) Wear deodorant.
13) Change your ring tone to the loudest, most obnoxious one possible. You’ll fit in.
14) Speak really loudly into your cell phone about the intimate details of your life. Use the opportunity to let everyone should know about your no-good boyfriend.
15) If you feel the need to complain about speeding, daredevil overtaking or sudden stops, be prepared to get out and walk.
16) Don’t be pregnant.
17) Don’t be disabled.
18) Learn to appreciate the wisdom and wit of the reading material provided because, when you think about it, who vex does indeed lorse.
19) Be aware that many men think maxi rides are perfect for trying to find a wife. This is another reason to wear headphones.
20) If anyone asks, politely reply, “Yes, thank you, I already know Jesus,” to save yourself any further discussion. Don’t bother to try to explain how offensive it is to try to impose your religion on a captive audience.
21) Eating is not allowed at any time, especially during the evening commute. Hungry passengers will beat you before the driver has a chance to put you out.
22) Don’t forget to pay. Seriously.
23) Buzzers are tricky. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Try pressing five minutes before your destination to be safe. Walk the rest of the way if you have to.
24) Paying with anything larger than a five dollar bill is unreasonable. All you heavy rollers with your tens and twenties should not expect the driver to have change.
25) Bear in mind that maxi rules are geographically specific. Black band maxis in the south, for example, don’t expect you to close the door yourself and most often have a conductor to perform that task. Red band maxis will send an angry mob after you if you dare to leave without closing the door yourself. Please consult the Regional Guide to Maxi Travel for further information.