The Missionary and the Motorcycle

I’m pretty sure the motorcycle taxi drivers have bets with each other about how quickly they can make it back to their waiting stations. I fully expected the wind to rip the contact lenses out of my eyes and so I vowed I’d never take a motorcycle taxi again, but Bangkok traffic can be a strong persuader.

Brian and I had business in the heart of Bangkok – the seeming miles of cars and trucks stretched out immobile convinced us that we should take two motorcycle taxis to the skytrain station, rather than one taxi.

We peeled out into the main road, and then the weaving through the standstill cars began – to the right of this car — to the left of that one — quick! a speedy maneuver to gain the inch needed to cut in front of the next vehicle — now my driver puts his sandal-shod feet down to balance as we creep through the just-big-enough gap between two sedans (as I begin speculating if missing toes is a frequent casualty of the job).

I lose sight of Brian as his driver chooses to veer left, while mine swings right. My driver’s posture becomes more intense as the minutes pass; now the race is really on. Which was the better choice: right, or left???

My driver sharply turns left in front of a truck and then slams on his brakes as another motorcycle, shooting up the “lane,” comes to a screeching halt, their front tires less than an inch apart.

My eyes move from the unruffled, expressionless face of the other driver to his passenger’s, and there I find Brian’s blue eyes laughing into mine. “Hi, babe,” he grins, and then we’re off again, my driver yielding the lead.

“Brian’s alive, I’m alive, we’re going to be okay.” The refrain runs through my head, keeping time with each shift of the gears.

It’s not often that you and your husband nearly meet your death in the same accident, but on separate motorcycles.

When we were in language school, our leader loved to ask us, “Any cultural observations you made this week?”

I suppose mine would have had to have been: If you take a motorcycle taxi, there is an unspoken but understood agreement that you want to get there fast.

Brian and Bekah Farber

Originally posted on OMF Thailand’s blog.

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