Taxi Drivers, Funerals And Awkward Conversations

Fionnuala and I travelled to England today for the funeral of a very dear friend who died suddenly a few weeks ago. I wrote a little tribute to him back then. Our friend was a highly decorated detective who held senior ranks in England, Northern Ireland and Canada. He also had a wicked sense of humour and I know he wouldn’t want me writing a depressing post today. So I won’t.

I have a reputation for saying the most inappropriate things at funerals. Usually to the family of the deceased. I invariably put my foot in my mouth which I suppose beats putting it in the grave but only marginally. I am the King of the cringeworthy comment, the Master of the awkward silence. Today was not going to be that day, however. I was determined to be on my best behaviour throughout proceedings.

Upon touching down at East Midlands Airport we had hired a taxi to take us to the crematorium. Our smartly dressed driver was of Middle Eastern descent but initial communication issues were quickly resolved and we were soon on our way out of the airport. At which point our driver politely asked if he could make a private phone call using his hands free kit.

‘Of course’ I replied. Our driver nodded, inserted an earpiece and then commenced a very lengthy conversation in his native tongue with the person he had called. We had no idea who this was, of course, because a) my Arabic is non-existent and b) his earpiece meant we were only privy to half the conversation. The only word I could make out was ‘Allah’ which he regularly said, a stern expression on his face.

I began to worry for the man. Had he received bad news? A death in his own family perhaps? A relative taken suddenly ill? The conversation continued and he looked increasingly irritated and unsettled. At any moment I expected him to break off the call and dump us at the roadside, apologising profusely that he had to shoot off to deal with a family crisis. I braced myself for the worst as he terminated the call at his end and turned to face me.

The conversation that followed went a bit like this:

Taxi Driver: I’m sorry about that but wife’s car has broken down?

Me: Oh dear, is she alright?

Taxi Driver: Yes, yes. She’s fine.

Me: That’s good. Where did she break down?

Taxi Driver: In the car wash?

I paused briefly with images of the poor woman stranded in her vehicle as the spinning rollers descended over the windscreen. And then I spoke these words of wisdom.

‘Oh well. At least the car will be clean’.

Oddly enough the conversation petered out quickly at that point. The remainder of the journey passed in silence and, despite wanting the earth to open up and swallow me, we arrived at our destination in one piece. The funeral itself passed without incident and I managed not to drop any more verbal clangers. For my work had already been done. And somewhere up on a cloud our old friend would have been laughing his wings off.

What’s the most embarrassing comment you’ve ever come out with at a social gathering?

On a scale of 1-10 how socially awkward are you?

26 thoughts on “Taxi Drivers, Funerals And Awkward Conversations

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  1. Funerals. My heritage is Pennsylvania Dutch. The traditional condolence after viewing the deceased is to hold the widow’s hand and say, “he looks nice.” At a funeral away from home in another state, those words slipped out of my mouth. Embarrassed, I had to explain to the shocked, grieving family.

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  2. I arrived at work one day and a coworker was wearing a loose smock top. Her tummy seemed to be extended and I immediately got very excited and gushed, “Wow! Congratulations. When is your baby due?” You could have heard a pin drop after her reply, “I’m not pregnant”. Ugh! So embarrassing!

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  3. I’m not too socially awkward but I have felt uncomfortable in social situations before, like a kind of “What am I even doing here? I don’t belong.” ….As far as saying embarrassing things – that’s my trademark 😏. I’ve been told I have no filter.

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  4. So…. This sort of thing is a “foot in your mouth” comment? 😀 I found it hilarious, and probably would have dropped such a line to intentionally relieve the moment.
    Maybe your delivery just needs some work. 😉

    Many condolences about your good friend, by the way. He sounds like a real angel.

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  5. I’m not too awkward, but it is awkward when everyone but me knows some stupid dance or something except for homeschooling me! It’s also awkward when all the girls are giggling to death at a sleepover and I am not laughing. I’m just not much of a giggler, so I usually end up having a nice chat with the girls’ parents!

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  6. Actually I thought the same thing – about her car being clean. But then I am Irish after all. My father did say we were full of the blarney….and as an American I am praying I have the phase correct. 🙂 ha ha Sometimes what is said changes translations across the great big pond. My condolences to you about your friend, but you have many happy memories of him that will bring laughter and tears.

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  7. Now, you see, that is the kind of thing that would come to mind for me, too. I’m not sure if I would have said anything as Kim (my wife) would’ve elbowed me in the ribs to keep quiet – LOL!

    Still, at least you had a dead good funeral . . .

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  8. I once went with my husband to his friend’s father’s funeral. There was an older Irish man there and he was dressed in a green suit head to toe. He looked like an older version of the Lucky Charms cereal character. I started laughing and couldn’t stop. My husband asked what was funny and when I told him he chuckled but I flat out could not stop laughing. Then his mother comes over and says I want to introduce you to someone. And it was the guy! It took everything in me not to burst out laughing and ask about his Lucky Charms. I had to walk away at one point and his mother came over and asked what was so funny. I told her and she started laughing hysterically too. My husband (who is usually the joker) was beyond annoyed with us, which just made me laugh harder.

    At funerals I don’t know why but I always wind up making stupid jokes. Probably because I am uncomfortable. I am very sorry for your loss my friend. Good friends are like diamonds, rare, precious, and to be treasured always.

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