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The Negotiator

By Joe Giarratano on May 30, 2014 in Other

Picture: Mohammad Ashraful

Picture: Mohammad Ashraful

It was changeover time – good for a working taxi driver but not so good for passengers looking to get home.

The cabbie pulled up to a hail at the popular shopping strip on Gould Street, parallel to Campbell Parade, smack bang in the middle of Bondi Beach. They were both gussied up in formal wear, holding hands, standing in front of the police station.

“We’re going to the Northern Beaches mate – Collaroy,’ said the lanky bloke with the attractive lady in tow.

“No problem, jump in,” said Gorgeous George the taxi driver, his voice tired after a long shift behind the wheel.

“Oh, first we have to come to some kind of arrangement on the price,” said Lanky, as he caught his lady’s eye and smiled.

“Piss off, son,” George retorted before accelerating away. “Big noting prick,” he mumbled to himself as he searched for another fare.

George caught a glimpse in the rear view mirror and smiled. The lady was waving her finger in Lanky’s face.

“Not going as planned, eh mate?” he whispered to himself again, this time with a smile in his voice.

The taxi veered left and left again and came to a halt at the taxi rank on Campbell Parade, a little past the busy McDonalds shopfront. The couple, taking the short cut through the small pedestrian square that is Roscoe Street Mall, caught up with the taxi and opened the passenger door.

“Hey, I’m just trying to give you a long fare, mate – there are no other passengers around. Sixty bucks should cover it, okay? It’s a good fare mate,” Lanky said.

George casually got out of the taxi and took a deep breath of the refreshing sea air.

“Yeah, I know what you’re trying to give me… and where,” he replied, bending slightly at the waist.

“Don’t be like that. C’mon mate, it’s a good fare,” Lanky reasoned. He would not give up on his quest.

“Leave me alone, son. Can you see any vacant cabs? It’s changeover and you want to negotiate? Okay, let’s negotiate. One hundred and fifty bucks will do it, payable in advance,” Gorgeous said, his patience wearing thin.

“Let’s take it, these shoes are killing me,” the good-looking lady-friend chimed in.

“Look, mate, around eighty bucks is the correct fare,’ said Lanky. He grimaced as if he had swallowed something sour.

“Please, please, Malcolm. Can we just go home?’ she interjected.

Gorgeous George sensed his opportunity.

“Correction, eighty was the correct fare, now it’s one hundred and fifty, son.” George was about to say one hundred and twenty, but the attractive lady’s urgency pushed up the price.

Lanky reluctantly opened the rear door allowing the woman to get in, shaking his head at the same time. The egg on his face glistened as it caught the moonlight.