Welcome to Dublin
The Irish are a chatty and inquiring people, traits I’m capable of enduring under normal circumstances, but after flying over an ocean with my knees jammed against a seatback and a gang of hooligans lobbing Guinness cans over my head, I felt—justifiably, I think—that circumstances had gone well beyond normal.
Unfortunately, my Dublin cab driver—bright-eyed, chipper and reeking of coffee—was unable to adapt his conversation to my sleep-deprived torpor. His barrage of questions was unrelenting:
“Where ya from?”
“First time in Ireland?”
“What brings ya to Dublin?”
I didn’t quite know how to react to all this. As an American, I’m not accustomed to hearing English spoken in taxicabs. I answered as best I could, but my groggy “arghs” and “umns” failed to deter the inquisitor:
“How long will ya be away then?”
“Jaysis, that long?”
“No wife? No kids? No job?”
This was going too far.
“Job?” I said. “What a distasteful notion. And as for family, I managed to rid myself of them years ago in Rangoon. The Burmese are very tolerant of white-slaving.”
The cabbie took this to mean I was ready to engage him in a spot of witty banter, or craic, as they say in Gaelic.
“And how much did they bring, if you don’t mind my asking?” he said. “The way my wife eats, I might just consider it.”
As the ride wore on, I became increasingly lightheaded, and my tongue began to loosen. Why was I letting the cabbie do all the questioning? I was the visitor, after all. It was high time I pumped him for a few touristic tidbits:
“Does it rain as much as they say?”
“What’s good to eat?”
“Is everyone really drunk all the time?”
“Are you drunk now?”
The driver was amenable to this line of interrogation. His answers were charming and informative, and I’m sure I would’ve learned a great deal had my brain been capable of absorbing anything. Instead, I left the cab having retained exactly one recommendation (bowl of coddle) and the driver’s comical greeting: “Welcome to Dublin—the world’s only open-air asylum.”