Skip to content

No Le Entiendo: A Chicago Cabbie's Poem

Posted on:May 10, 2016 at 05:31 PM
Post image

Hi there, George checking in from the memory storehouse with another entertaining brain echo from 1997. I’ll make an effort to find something from another era next week.

From 1994-1997, I drove a Chicago cab. It was the perfect complement to a University of Chicago education. I freelanced for a large corporation, I saw the seedy underbelly of the Loop and I rubbed elbows with hardworking immigrants from two dozen different countries.

It was seriously cyberpunk!

One thing I learned quickly is that white cabdrivers were rare. This led to a variety of reactions on the part of my white customers but the most memorable was a lady who called me “poor thing,” quizzed about my life situation (it was fine) and gave me a huge tip – presumably so I could turn my life around.

I was on an adventure. But this subset of my customers treated me like I was a homeless waif fallen from grace in a 19th century morality play. So I wrote a poem about it (back in 1997). Here you go.

No Le Entiendo

taxi taxi
bright and yellow
clean and dark
o taxi mine
leased, not owned
$74 a day, plus gas
and maintenance
“Oh, you’re white.
You’re a
“Que?” I say
“No speeka Ingles.”
they shut up
not a word
no more
it worked!

Okay, it’s horrible poetry. I should have put a warning. “Warning, amateur poetry. Eyes may bleed.” This is why I write science fiction, okay?

But I thought it was funny when I did it.

Photo Credit: Paul Sableman CC-BY