Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bahama (Crazy) Mama

When I travel, I like to make sure I do my due diligence when it comes to securing my safety, like always requesting Captain Sully whenever I fly. So when my girlfriends and I booked a cruise to Nassau, I did a Google search and found out that the crime there is surprisingly high, and one especially had to look out for would-be muggers posing as cab drivers. Or possibly cab drivers who moonlighted as muggers, a sort of hobby, if you will. In any case, I was on my guard.

When we docked there, the sun was shining, birds were singing, the weather was sweet. We did a bit of shopping in the straw market, and then decided to hit the beach before getting back on the boat. And we needed a cab to get there. I looked around at our options. Now in the Bahamas, it’s not always obvious what’s a cab and what isn’t. They aren’t all yellow with a little piney air freshener dangling from the rearview mirror, or least of all branded with a company name … they’re all shapes and sizes and models … I swear I saw a Red Ryder wagon parked by the boat with Taxi painted on both sides being pulled by a toddler. Soon enough, though, a cab driver made the decision for us. This real smooth, sweet-talking (murderous?) man came up to us “beautiful girls” and told us to hop in his “cab”/vehicle he uses to lure innocent American girls into.

“I take you to da beach, my lovelies,” he said, giving us a big (murderous!) smile.

My three friends all sighed in relief and immediately began filing into his SUV that reeked of ciggy smoke and sweat (and not, I couldn't help but notice, of the now weirdly comforting odor of fake pine). I walked around to the other side of the car, as I was not seeing a Taxi marker on the side I was on, to loud cries of, “Amy, what are you doing? Just get in the car!” from my friends. Oh, no worries, I thought, just trying to make sure we don’t end up on the next episode of 48 Hours Mysteries is all! Don’t mind me! I didn’t see Taxi marked anywhere on the vehicle, but since my friends were now giving me the stink eye, and I do hate the stink eye, I decided to just hop in, despite my better judgment.

The “cab” driver began making small talk with us.

“So, you girls gonna have a fun time at da beach today?”

“Yes!” my girlfriends (marks!) all sang in chorus.

“Ah, dat’s right. I gonna make sure you all have a fun time!” he said in what had to be the creepiest voice ever. Yes, even creepier than any sound that could ever possibly come out of the creepiest person in the world (i.e., Carrot Top).

I started to sweat despite the A/C pumping at full blast. I tried to roll down the window, but found that I couldn’t. Dear Lord, he had locked the doors!! I began to panic. I need to be able to scream out the window so people will hear us in case he decides to not in fact take us to the beach but rather to a remote jungley part of the island where he robs us of all our money (I’m guessing we probably had a good $10, $20 among the four of us) and murder us all in cold blood … with a machete! And the whole time he's cackling, “You girls had a fun time at da beach! You girls had a fun time at da beach!” It’s possible I might watch too many 48 Hours Mysteries.

“Hey!” I screamed.

“Hey, lovely lady,” the psycho killer/cabbie returned.

“I need to open my window!”

“Ah, now, it’s such a hot day. You don’t want to sweat, do you? No … we keep da windows closed,” he said (with a crazy, murderous wink!)

I was in full-blown panic mode now. We had already driven a couple of blocks away from the boat. Where was he taking us? We stopped at a light, and I looked over to a van parked to our left. It had Taxi emblazoned in big black block letters on its side. Shit! I did a walk-around of the car we were in, and nothing on it had anything remotely resembling those letters. Except ... maybe ... AX!

“Hey!” I screamed again. “Let me out! I need to get out of this car!”

My friends turned and stared at me. The cab driver, ever so brightly, replied, “but dis is not da beach!”

“Oh, really?!" I began to furiously wave my hands around, to my friends' growing horror. "See these waves? That's all 'da beach' we need! Now let us out before I take you out!”

The cab driver, at this point probably scared for his life, quietly obeyed. The doors unlocked with a quick snap and I popped out of the SUV, raising my hands toward the sky, grateful I would live to see another day. I turned to the car. My friends were staring at me, slack-jawed. No one moved.

“That means everyone! Let’s go! Move 'em out!” I screamed hysterically. My friends all shot out of the car and watched sullenly as it sped away.

“Amy, what the hell was that all about??”

I looked at three very angry faces.

“We – we were all about to be mugged! And raped! And left for dead in the jungle! I think you mean thank you.”

“No, Amy,” my friend May said calmly, “we were all about to go to the beach! And get out of this fucking intense sun! Jesus Christ! You just had a total freak out!”

“He wouldn’t let me open the window,” I said quietly, lowering my head. "He wouldn't ... let me ..."

“Oh for …” my friends all said in unison, throwing up their hands.

I had to make it up to them, so I quietly scoured the street and walked up to who I thought looked like a nice guy. And so we all hauled into an even sketchier looking white minivan—you know, like the type of car that police are always "on the lookout for" that just might happen to be linked to some horrendous crime. My friends all looked at me skeptically.

“Amy, are you sure this is any better?” May asked.

“Absolutely!” I said in the most convincing voice I could muster, which granted at this point, sounded something like a psychotic squeak that would surely register an 11 on the amplifier.

“He has a star tattooed on the back of his shoulder. I mean, how bad can a guy with a big shining star on his back be?”

“Amy!” May snapped. “That’s a pentagram!”

“Open the window!” I screamed, as we all sped off to our almost certain demise ... into the great unknown/totally safe popular tourist destination that sees probably millions, billions of visitors a year.