Sunday, March 11, 2007

Killing a Chinaman

The other day I did what I suspect a lot of cabbies do, but I never have before. Was driving up College Street, past St Mary's Cathedral, when the radio offered me a job: Art Gallery of NSW to Darling Point. Nah, I thought. Fifteen bucks? Nah. I hit reject. Then, seconds later, thought: Well, why not? I'm here, they're there, there' s no other cabs going down Art Gallery Road, maybe I should. So I did. They were three old ones, two women and a man. Probably had been viewing the Archibald, as many individuals and organisations, surprisingly and old-fashionably, do. We were back on College Street, heading towards William, when the old gent said: Look at all those red lights. You must have killed a Chinaman. Somehow, in the instant, the thought of the Chinese, the image of all those reds, fused. Is that specific to red lights, or just generally about bad luck? I asked. Bad luck, he said. You must have killed a Chinaman. Heh, heh, heh. Well, I said. I haven't killed anyone. I'd remember. Heh, heh, heh, the old gent chuckled. I checked it out with a couple of fares later in the evening. One, a fellow from Adelaide I took to the Airport, said he knew it well but didn't use it so much any more, because of political correctness. He told me the meaning of Bush Baptist (someone who goes bush on Sundays, while everyone else goes to church) and also a long complicated story about Twaddle having a meaning to do with chemical detritus. Still haven't sorted that one out. The other was a Pom I took to Woollahra. O my goodness me, he said. Well, well. No, I haven't heard that one before. Dearie me. Killing a Chinaman, eh? That's too bad.