I was travelling home from work drinks in a London cab about nine years ago when an old lady opened the front passenger door and hopped in. I didn’t mind, I was going her way and when she arrived at her house and rustled around in her bag for some change, the driver and I both protested: “No, no, no, please, we’ve got this” and watched her teeter up to her front door and slowly disappear.
As he pulled away, the cabbie glanced back at me.
“Are you single?”
I hesitated, but answered yes, coaxed by his pleasant manner and the fact he was wearing a wedding ring.
“It’s hard finding someone isn’t it?” he asked, smiling at me in the rear view mirror. “You have to use your brain. When I hit 30 I took a year off work to find a wife to make sure I did the job properly.”
His romantic sabbatical had succeeded and he was now living happily with his wife and two children.
There was a couple of minutes of shared comfortable silence – my relief that I hadn’t been raped, his marital content – before he suddenly sprang to life again. “Did you smell her bag?” he asked me, pointing his finger at the seat where the old lady had sat five minutes before. I hadn’t got a waft but I sensed from his wrinkled nose that it hadn’t smelt of lavender and cold cream.
“When she opened it up, it just smelt awful.”
He paused, then said: “Isn’t it sad that she hasn’t got anyone to tell her that her bag smells?”
I nodded, gravely.
“And that’s the thing: you don’t want to leave it too late, because you need someone to tell you that your bag smells bad, don’t you?”
I couldn’t argue with that. I joined Match.com the very next day.