“I have a plan to switch lanes fast,” said our cab driver, Isao (American name: Storm). I was not surprised that he had a plan. Even before getting on the freeway, he’d told us about the various degrees he’d almost completed, including his MD, and how he was going to get rich by buying an office building in downtown San Francisco and then selling it after it appreciated—which seemed like a perfectly solid plan for anyone with $12 million to spare.
“I turn on the emergency blinker, then the right blinker, then emergency blinker,” Storm explained. “People move out of the way. I am only concerned about your safety and my safety. Everybody else get out of the way.”
In the back seat, Jamie and I looked at each other, as we would repeatedly over the next 20 minutes. Sometimes our looks said, Oh my god, we’re in the car with a crazy man. More frequently, our looks said, What did he just say?
Storm had a thick Japanese accent and spoke very quickly. He was clearly comfortable and confident speaking English. If we couldn’t keep up, well, we were like those unfortunate other drivers on the freeway. We just needed to get out of the way.
It was late afternoon, and I was tired, but I tried to concentrate as he discussed his various inventions, punctuating his explanations with a high-pitched laugh.
“Underwater…something…something…turbine. Something…something…fish. Hahahahaha!”
“Ha ha ha,” I said supportively.
“Internet…something…confidentiality,” said Storm.
“Mm, that makes sense,” I said, because this is a sort of empathetic catchphrase of mine. Although, now that I thought about it, the exact opposite was true.
When we got to the airport, Storm wouldn’t let me climb out of my seat and exit the side door. He had one last plan that involved releasing the lever that enables the seat to be moved from side to side and pulling it forward with me in it. It was quite a ride.