Taxi Strike! – Stuck in Customs

Taxi Strike!

As luck would have it, all the taxis went on strike last night about midnight. Over 300 taxis rolled into the central area around the Vittorio Emanuelle II monument and turned off their engines.

I had just finished dinner at a friend’s villa near the colosseum who is a famous Italian actor. I should not say his name, but we have recently become associated in some business I am doing in Rome. Anyway, he had a beautiful villa and owned the top four floors of a fabulous 600-year-old building. He had two level verandas, the second one occupying the entire roof with a 360-degree panorama of the city. He had a servant that brought out wine, appetizers, dinner, everything. At the end, he even brought out three flavors of homemade gelato that we all ate while staring out the night-lit city of Rome… It was really something else.

Anyway, after leaving, I found out about the strike. Walking around, quite far from my hotel in Esquiline near the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, I found a nice man on a motorcycle and I offered him ten Euro to take me back to my hotel.

He said he refused payment and would absolutely give me a ride. We waited on his wife to come out of the restaurant and she let me borrow her helmet, while she used her daughter’s that was stashed away. I tried to pay her since her husband refused, but she also refused, stuffing the money back into my pocket which appeared to the casual passerby as some kind of surreal fight where two people are gesticulating wildly while stuffing money into one another’s pockets.

I got on the back and this guy floored it… He was like the Italian Evel Knieval as we whipped around corners on almost totally empty streets, since they were bereft of the normally clogging taxis. His wife flew along beside us with a pleasant smile on her face. After I got off, I snapped this picture and tried to offer them money again. They refused so I gave them my card to buy them dinner if they ever come to Texas.

Taxi Strike!