Nice day for a white wedding as one Idol from the 80s would sing. My friends' wedding on a sunny morning in March was probably all that. Although for my girlfriend and I, it could have been better. That's what happens when you are dependent on Melbourne's problematic, wait for it, multipurpose taxi system.
Taxi one, the no-show
A wheelchair accessible taxi had been booked to take us to the 11am ceremony. I had allowed for it being up to 45 minutes late. When it reached that time I got nervous. Wheelchair users know this feeling well. You call the taxi company and get the
it's on its way line. It could be on its way from Melbourne airport while you're waiting, as we were, in the south-eastern suburbs.
Fortunately with some strong muscles, someone else's, I can transfer into a regular taxi. After a skilful transfer that would send an occupational therapist running for the sick bag, we were gone.
Taxi two, late again
The reception in the afternoon was at the same venue as the ceremony. The bride looked beautiful, the groom was dashing, the conversation was festive and the grog was flowing. And didn't the bridesmaids look lovely? All good things must come to an end though. The beer ran out.
Another multipurpose taxi was an half-hour late to pick us up. We got back to the hotel and intended on having a rest before going to a barbecue in the backyard of the couple's new home in the evening. Another taxi was booked but time was now less of an issue.
Taxi three, not my taxi
I was surprised when the multipurpose taxi arrived less than five minutes after the reserved time. The driver neither confirmed my name or the destination. He dismissed our questioning about our destination and relied on his GPS. I'm not from Melbourne so I had no idea where he was going anyway.
Upon arriving at the house, the people were happy to take me through and down a step to the pergola area where a barbecue was happening. I knew no more than a dozen people, but why did the smiling faces not seem familiar? It was becoming confusing and my girlfriend's face revealed similar discomfort.
Then the bride, still in her dress, turned revealing someone I did not know. I grappled with the first answer that came to mind, that the taxi had somehow sped through a gateway to a parallel universe where everything was similar but different. The more likely answer followed, which was that we had been dropped off like gatecrashers at someone else's wedding.
Outside the garage there were people drinking beers. They were both humoured and sympathetic to our tale of woe. One offered me a drink of water. I asked for a beer. I couldn't dismiss the parallel universe theory. The people were like our friends, just a little older. There wasn't another taxi available for a long time so I called a driving friend to pick us up.
Taxi four, to the bitter end
In a nearby suburb at our real friends' house the mood was similarly lively. I was asked to retell the story many times.
The day's events had been tiring and we called a taxi for the hotel. Things then became even more absurd. Multipurpose central booking refused to accept us as customers basically because the wrong taxi had taken us from the hotel that afternoon. After arguing our case and another hour wait, a taxi finally came. We were, for want of better words, frustrated.
Well, at least I can look back and laugh at it now. Normally I would be the first to laugh long and loud, but it was happening to me damn it.
The Taxi Industry Inquiry draft report
Customers first: Service, Safety, Choice was released on 31 May 2012.