I got on to a taxi at the station. As usual, I sat in the front. When the engine was turned on, it started making loud siren noises.
“Oh, you have to put your seatbelts on, you see,” the driver said. So, I did.
“It’s really annoying,” he continued. “You’d think it’d shout a few times and then shut up, but no, it just goes on and on.”
“Well, good isn’t it,” I countered, “if it’s the law to have your seatbelts on if you’re sitting in the front?”
“Actually, you’ve got to have seatbelts on even if you’re in the back. But funny, they haven’t got any sirens if you don’t put your seatbelts on in the back!”
“Pity,” I said.
“Yeah. It was driving me mad. I had to buy a second-hand seatbelt and plug it in to my clasp, to stop the sound.”
I noticed, at that point, that he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. I didn’t notice if any other taxi drivers wore them. So after considerable deliberation, I ventured.
“You don’t have your seatbelt on.”
“Yeah. That’s right.”
He said it with confidence. I didn’t want to debate it with him, but I was curious.
“Well, because you might assualt me!”
This was after the London bomb blasts. And I do look Asian. But surely!
“I mean, it’s tough enough having to drive, without having to worry about passenger assault.”
He proceeded to explain the seatbelt laws to me. “I don’t need to wear a seatbelt when I’m with a passenger, you see. When I’m not, I need to — except mostly people don’t do that if it’s short trips. And if I’m going outside my area, even if I’m with a passenger, I need to. Of course, I’d like to anyway, because it’s safer. But lorry drivers, for example, don’t need a seatbelt. That’s downright unsafe, with their low steering…”
Which is all very fine, but I wonder why he thought I would assault him.