The Chuckle Cab
Day 225 – March 3, 2012
I found myself in a cab today and being in one of these car-for-hires is always a bit of a spin of the roulette wheel.
What type of cabbie will take me for a ride today?
Will he be quiet and only ask me where I’m going?
Will he be argumentative and want to haggle incessantly about the fare?
Will he be talkative requiring me to strain my ear, tongue, and brain as I try to understand what he is saying and make him understand what I am trying to communicate?
Will he be friendly and greet me with “Como esta Usted?”?
Will he be preoccupied and talking on his phone conducting his other two side businesses while he weaves in and out of Lima traffic?
Will he be new and not exactly know how to drive me from our Point A to my selected Point B?
This game of chance is not unique to the City of Kings. I have visited New York City twice in my life and in those dual visits, I had plenty of opportunities to sample the Gotham hack scene. All of those questions posed above concerning the Peruvian taxi driver also are valid when a Manhattanite (or Brooklynite or Queensian) steps into the yellow car also.
Back to Lima and back to today, I was rewarded with the Jester.
While I cannot recall how we maneuvered our conversation to the topic of language, he told me the following…
Cabbie: Did you know I can speak four languages?
Xavier: No, really? (said I, playing the straight man to a “T”)
Cabbie: Yes, I speak Colombian, Argentinian, Ecuadorian, and Peruvian.
How do you say “rimshot” in Spanish?
At the risk of over-explaining, the joke here is that while several countries in South America speak Spanish, the inhabitants of these lands all speak various forms of that language. Sort of like how England and America are two countries divided by a common language.
Since it is impolite to receive a gift without offering something in return, I paid back my driver with the following…
Xavier: What do you call a person who speaks three languages?
Cabbie: He is trilingual.
Xavier: What do you call a person who can speak two language?
Xavier: What do you call a person who can speak only one language?
Cabbie: I don’t know.
Xavier: An American.
It’s not my joke, folks. I can’t even claim to be that original, but I call them as I see them.
I was rewarded with a chuckle. It might have even been a guffaw (or possibly even a chortle), but I’m not completely sure as something may have been lost in the translation.