DR Shannon has an account with a little taxi service run exclusively, it seems, by mobile phone. “Hello express!” they’d say when you called. So I got a standing order for a ride out to WestPark in Shannon every day. One day I even rode in the company car, the Mercedes which had an automatic transmission. But most days Barry picked me up both going out and coming back; he drove some kind of Toyota hatchback. He explained to me the complication of driving with an automatic transmission from his experiences driving the company car.
There were quiet taxi drivers, but Barry was not one of them (two phones and a CB radio and none of them for decoration). You just had to get him started on something or another, or he had to get himself started. We did not have very much in common, but I learned a bit of the DJ business (he was doing the sound on Friday for the three Irish tenors at Dromoland Castle, an interesting place where Bush likes to stay and where Barry had met at one time Secretary Rice and at another Judge Judy). I said sometimes he just had to get himself started; he told me all about how Bush totally mishandled Hurricane Katrina; he also told me about his conspiracy theories. When he was explaining Gaelic to me, I learned that Sean means John, Sheamus means James, and that Finbarr means Barry.
Eventually we got intimate enough where he asked about my beard and whether I was Amish and was that why I didn’t drink. One thing you have to know about the Irish, besides that they really don’t know very much about the Amish, is that they’re always using the name of our Lord as an exclamation. “Jaysus! after 12 hours just watching the wipers go back and forth . . .”, or “I can’t keep away from drink, Jaysus!” In fact, the foreigners who work for my company there get into the habit of saying it too. So anyway, the conversation with Barry turned to religion and what religion I was and how it was different. So then, predictably, it went on to how Barry was religious but didn’t like organized religion and he’d answer to God for himself—I heartily agreed about answering to God and remarked that it was appointed to man once to die and after that the judgment. Oh yes, death! Somehow he got onto how our Lord himself did not want to die. “Think of Jesus, he didn’t want to die! He was like, Jaysus, don’t let . . .” and that brought him up short. I believe he reflected for a couple of seconds on the incongruity of what he had launched himself into and then redirected the stream of his words . . . slightly.
Well, Barry was one colorful Irishman and the best of taxi drivers (he even lent me a big, detailed map of Dublin to study). By the end of the trip I caught myself wording things with an unnecessary “then” or “now” at the end. I even had a lilt on some of the questions I asked. I’ve been long baffled by Irish accents (trying to affect them, that is. No longer), but I really think that were I to live there for six months, I’d not be able to help myself, like. There is nothing like the sound of an Irishman speaking English, regardless of what they say.