Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gringo learns Spanish the hard way

I don't speak Spanish, but I've picked up a little bit along the way. A Hyundai Tiburon drove by a cab stand and I said the car is okay, but why does it have a nonsensical name? A Mexican-American driver said it means "shark" in Spanish. I had absolutely no idea. I thought the good folks at Hyndai had tried to invent something! Does anyone know about the Buick LaCrosse in Montreal, or the Chevy Nova in South America?

I've been using tiburon on the radio lately. We have some yellow taxis, some blue, and some white. When business is slow drivers will identify themselves as "el bandito azule" for the blue ones, etc. One guy has the ID "el mejor", meaning "the best", on account of getting long rides. When I hear these IDs, I'll say (please forgive the spelling), "Jo soy el tiburon!"

On a related theme, I remember when a Mexican driver taught me to say, "How are you?" He said, and again please forgive the spelling, "Comme es ta, culo?"

I said that to a few drivers, but thankfully not to any Mexican customers, before somebody explained that it means, "How are you, asshole?" The joke was on the gringo.


unhappyguy said...

Ted, great blog. Had many of the same experiences over the 6 mo I drove. Just turned in my keys last week, couldn't make it paying over $100/day lease (24/7 lease) plus gas for the gas guzzler 10-12mpg I was stuck driving.
Worked 16-18 hrs/day 7 days/wk to try and make it, after 2 mo wrecked taxi because I fell asleep. Next 4 mo I got 8 hr sleep per night which cut my working hours to 12-14, and started losing money. This biz is tough up here in the IE.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ted, what's up? I've been an avid SoCal blog reader now for over a year and its been almost two months since you posted anything. Please post something, even if it is as simple as "I'm alive."

Taxi Aficionado

Real cab driver said...

I like your blog.

Kim said...

LOL - now I've learned two things, (1) Tiburon is actually a word in Spanish - I just knew it as the name of a No. Ca. town and (2) now I know a cuss word in Spanish! : D

I use a fair bit of Spanish in my work, but I'll be sure not to use "that" one! : D

Anonymous said...

yes people, 'Tiburon' means shark in Spanish. Please don't follow and
try to repeat what some mexican tell to say. You may be making an ass of yourself, when in front of
educated people from other spanish
speaking country.

Brent McD. said...

happy holidays. where you been?

Steve said...

Ted I've just found your site and love it, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...



San Diego for kids said...

Very nice post . Well , who speaks spanish besides of the natives and teachers ? :))

Anonymous said...

I am an old friend of Ted Martin from the 70's in San Diego. I know that he is not you, but wondering if you have heard of another taxi driver named Ted Martin? if so, let me know. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ted, where are you?

John said...

I stuck your blog on to my blogroll so you have a link in Dublin.

boston cab said...

I'm fan of your blog , I really enjoy reading yours posts, thanks for sharing your experiences !

オテモヤン said...


Pattaya Girls said...

i thought culo meant c**t ?

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Pensacola Beach Taxi said...

This is why it drives me absolutely crazy when I get a few non-speaking english passengers that are talking amongst themselves and they suddenly switch to their native language. Makes me just a little suspicious.

Anonymous said...

This guy has a funny bit on his podcast about cab drivers:

Larina Perez said...

A driver must have knowledge about different languages. It will be help the both customer and driver during on the way. We detroit airport metro cars have experienced drivers. They know well about the different languages and routs.

Sofia Alissa said...

Knowledge about different languages is a great thing. In the field of taxi we meet different people from different countries. Detroit airport taxi rates are very low and offer special offer for regular customers.