One Saturday night a girl - a friend of a friend of mine - decided to leave a San Francisco club called "Bubble Lounge" - one of my regular hangouts- without her friends. She grabbed a cab and never made it home. Her body was found a few days later and the cab driver was arrested.
A few weeks after this event Chris and I headed to Las Vegas... where the cabs are plentiful. I made Chris promise me he would never leave me in a cab alone – that he would get in before me and get out after me every time.
We were only dating at the time and this cab phobia was on the heels of me melting down in Yosemite after Chris left me in a public restroom to pee alone. (Although two women had recently been kidnapped and murdered at a rest stop in Yosemite, so my alarm wasn’t completely unwarranted. What can I say – I watched a lot of news.)
So, while on the plane to Vegas I’m reiterating to Chris for the 400th time what my rules are regarding cabs. He is amused, but agrees.
Well, we grab a cab from the airport to take up to our hotel. The cabbie is a fat white guy without a lot of conversation. The worst kind, if you ask me. Please tell me about your kids. Wife? Lifelong dreams? That don’t include dismembering young girls?
We pull up at the hotel and we’re an hour before check-in. The valets are standing in the hotel’s circular driveway waving us through to keep moving. Well, Chris and I quickly agree that we don’t want to lose the cab if we can’t check in yet because this hotel is off the strip (The Hard Rock). Without a second thought, Chris jumps out and runs inside to check with the front desk, leaving me in the cab alone.
I immediately tell myself not to overreact, we’re just sitting in front of the hotel after all. There’s nothing he can do to me here. I do scoot over so I’m right against the door on Chris’s side, ready to bolt.
In the meantime, the valets are yelling at the cabbie to keep moving; that he can’t park there. The cabbie and I are both anxiously watching the doors, waiting for Chris to come back out.
Finally, the cabbie mumbles something and floors the gas pedal pulling out of the hotel and speeding down the street with me in the back. The doors lock automatically as we pull into traffic and take off. If you will, imagine. My. Panic.
I spin around and see the hotel getting smaller and smaller in the back window. I spin back around.
“What are you doing?” I am near hysteria.
He grumbles something about those “damn valets”.
I look at the door handle I am gripping in my hand. We’re going about 45 mph. I look at the door lock – it’s one of those tiny ones, but I think I can pull it up if I need to.
I picture myself bursting from the speeding taxi and rolling across the intersection. What would I do? If I didn’t get hit by a car first, would I start running down the median strip?
My head is on a swivel frantically trying to figure out what the heck this guy is doing as he speeds down the street for a full five minutes. I am actually hyperventilating.
I am literally pressed so hard against the door with one hand on the handle that I am indenting my leg. My cheek is smashed against the window straining to see.
Meanwhile, Chris has come back outside. And we’re gone. His heart jumps into his throat. He consciously tells himself there must be a reasonable explanation. He runs up to the valet and asks what he saw. He sprints to the front of the parking lot. Then he dashes to the median. Then races back to the hotel doors….
Back in the cab, just as I start to pull a little on the handle and say a prayer, I finally realize we’re going up the street to make a u-turn and pulling into the side entrance of the hotel.
Chris is standing at the front doors looking stricken as we race up the driveway. I shoot out of the taxi before it even comes to a complete stop and start crying.
Ever since my cab trauma I can’t help but laugh when I imagine how close I was to leaping out of that taxi and doing a tuck and roll across the busy intersection. I was this close.
Can you imagine? The cab driver getting out of the car, walking around to where I lay on the asphalt. Cars smashed up around me. And him saying “Ma’am. I was…only…going around the block.”