Driving him crazy

Driving him crazy


Driving him crazy

Jay is so immersed in his scientific cogitations that he just drives with the flow of traffic, often getting diverted miles away from where he intended going.

He decided it was better to get a driver, and so advertised for one. Soon there was a queue of aspiring candidates at his door, as he had foolishly offered the dual incentives of short hours and a good salary.

His first appointee claimed to be an ex-army driver. He must have driven a tank over the vast desert tracts; the way he claimed the road for himself. His preferred position was to follow the white line along the middle, never giving way.

He also imagined that the car went best in only one gear, the first, revving the engine up slopes, strewing a trail of smoke and noise behind him, reminiscent of his desert campaigns. This deeply embedded Pavlovian response manifested itself whenever other ‘enemy’ vehicles approached too close and were dispatched, engulfed in acrid fumes and acerbic language.

Worse still was the driver’s habit of parking at least six feet away from the curb, exposing one to the danger of being hit by other drivers, though the victims eventually were a pile of precious books knocked out of Jay’s hands, crushed under the tyres of oncoming vehicles. By this act, I knew the driver had sealed his fate and wasn’t surprised someone else had taken his place.

This young driver, with all the skills of a grand prix veteran, turned at such high speed, the centrifugal force pinned one to the door. He braked abruptly to a stop. Jay never found fault with any of this, asking me where could one find a driver so able nowadays?

Indeed, he seemed too good to be true, but his Achilles heel was the fairer sex. He would waylay different maids in the apartment block at every opportunity, with pinpoint precision, to avoid another’s detection. The French farce played itself out when one maid caught another in flagrante delicto with the driver. Impassioned screams rent the air as aggrieved maid after another took up the cry, the contrapuntal voices provided by the scolding mistresses. The exposed Don Juan departed precipitately, driven out by shame and cacophonic screeches.

The latest acquisition drove so sedately even decrepit cyclists overtook us. I was amazed when he actually signalled an ambling cow to precede us, and I was convinced he couldn’t have done this in a burst of religious fervour. During all this Jay sat in the rear, obliviously reading his journals.

The driver once fell asleep in the locked car and it was a problem waking him up, thumping on the windows. Returning at snail’s pace, we halted at the traffic lights, which had turned red. By the time they changed to green, our driver had fallen asleep, despite the aggrieved motorists behind us blaring their horns. Was he a narcoleptic?

At home, Jay explained that the driver kept the car with him overnight whenever he worked late. Even as we spoke, we could see him through the window, polishing the car, as if to make up for his previous somnolence.

In fact, a family had gathered to admire him at his work. We surmised wrongly. On opening the door, we heard them berating him for not bringing the taxi, as promised, the previous evening. He had been moonlighting using Jay’s car as a private taxi in the evenings and nights — no wonder he fell asleep in the day.

The last time I visited, aspiring drivers were still knocking at his door.

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