People after work waiting for transport, red band Maxi Taxi bus station at City Gate, Port of Spain for article on signs in Sweet T&T, Sweet TnT, Trinidad and Tobago, Trini, vacation, travel

Signs you find in maxis taxis

By Jamie Gangoo. Setting down house rules becomes somewhat important when customers may consist of persons with various temperaments, quirky habits, hungry bellies and aggressive behaviours. For maxi drivers, these rules are mostly printed, laminated and stuck at strategic points in their maxis, that make for places the eyes can comfortably rest upon (as opposed to naturally resting on the back of someone’s head). They are the signs you must find.

Of course there will always be the persistent rule breakers who take advantage of drivers’ averted eyes and sneak bites of pies, roti and KFC, despite the shiny “No Eating” sign before them. However, the presence of signs makes it easier for a driver to press the eject button without bothering to offer an explanation. In the process of trying to maintain orderliness to their liking, some drivers take a humorous path that may be riddled with sexual innuendos, others make you question their experiences, while others can be considered, well, a bit rude.

Upon entering a maxi, one may find standard signs such as “No slamming” and “No eating, drinking or smoking”. However, some drivers have a tendency to elaborate on these as shown in the following list of common maxi signs:

– No loud cellphone music. (Understood.)

– No sleeping. (Difficult, but also understood.)

– No love making. (Make war instead!)

– No obscene language. (…with the exception of the driver.)

– No eating of nuts. (Clearly, this driver is traumatised.)

– No clipping of nails. (May I file them, then?)

Some drivers also find it necessary to simplify the “no cellphone music” rule to a simple equation (since youth like shortcut): Cellphone music + Maxi music = Noise. Yes, I agree, while also acknowledging that some maxi music alone falls under the category of “noise”.

The “no sleeping” sign can also come in various forms, such as “If yuh sleepy, doh sit in front” and “Sleep before you come, don’t come here to sleep!” Of course this is understandable, as you can get pickpocketed or miss your destination while sleeping. However, things become ambiguous when considering the sign that specifies that a passenger should not be seated in front if he/she is sleepy. Why address these passengers in particular? Perhaps the driver is one of The Talkatives, who constantly share their opinions on every current affair and bacchanal to the person at their sides, despite the person’s disinterested face and on-the-cue grunts.

The reason may also be that these drivers feel disrespected – like personal chauffeurs who drive sleeping passengers around, whilst fighting sleep themselves. Or maybe they just don’t want to hear your snores over the sound of their music. Whatever the reason, I am guilty of sleeping the time away on numerous occasions.

Signs behind the driver’s seat

Stuck behind the driver’s seat, one may also find the sign, “Doh pull on meh seat” or “Doh poke meh, nah”. The latter might ward off some passengers, but completely be overlooked by others who become confused/angry when the driver remains insolently silent as they jab his shoulder to pay him. I dutifully obey that sign, after an incident that occurred on the main road that seriously made me rethink my strength. As the maxi stopped to let a passenger out, I moved to the seat right behind the driver to pay him, as I had almost reached my destination. I, God help me, poked the man (in my defense, there was no sign indicating otherwise).

Driver (in vex voice): “So yuh come in front to hit meh?”

Me (confused): “No, ah was giving yuh money…”

Driver (while glaring at me through the rearview mirror): “So yuh does hit people when yuh giving them money? Yuh boss does hit yuh when he paying yuh?”

Wha… what? The man then proceeded to suck his teeth, wring up his face and refuse to take the money until I told him I would be getting out now, thank you.

Moving along, here is a list of a few more signs I have encountered on my maxi adventures (some paraphrased):

– “One bell – stop, two bells – right here… but, but, if you want to play with a bell, play with yours and leave mine alone!” (No problem, Sir.)

– “Don’t call me ‘Drive’. My name is Bryan.” (Should I add “Mr” to that too?)

– Don’t bawl in my beepin’ head! (Fix your beepin’ bells!)

– Buckle up, it’s the law… and it also makes it harder for the aliens to abduct you. (Well, when you say it like that.)

– This is not a plane. Leave earlier. (Shux and I was expecting a meal soon.)

Yes, maxi drivers have come up with humorous ways to maintain some order and cleanliness in their maxis, with some also attempting to address pet peeves and ego issues. No doubt, we, the passengers, might disagree with some, while finding others totally unreasonable (how can I not fall asleep on a journey from Port of Spain to Arima after work?). However, the driver did clearly state where he/she stands, which leaves us with three options:

Ask politely if you may break the rules. (e.g. “O gawd Drive, ah walkin’ with meh belly in meh hand. Leh meh just take a bite nah. I ain’t go make no mess.”)

Silently grumbles.

Hit the exit.

No, sneaking bites is not an option. There’s enough disrespect going around, without us adding to it by breaking drivers’ rules in their own maxis. Ent?

October 2014 – Issue 12     www.sweettntmagazine.com

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