Feral boys, James Franco and mistaken identity: how the system is failing us

“Are you not the celebrated actor Mr. James Franco?” the driver demanded, his voice carrying an unacceptable tone of reproach.

“No, I most certainly am not,” I said, laughing, although I understood how one could confuse us. “I am Mr. Franklin Dubbles.”

“But my sign said ‘Mr. Franco,’” he said.

You should have seen how quickly that man dropped his phony professional demeanor. He cursed. He shouted. He berated me. He threatened to call the police. He said he was going to lose his job, and he blamed me, an innocent and well-meaning visitor to his country.

I should have been the one shouting. In essence, I had been kidnapped. I didn’t want to be there, practically in Wales, and I was going to be late for my meeting. Did this fellow apologize? No. Instead, he dropped me off in the nearest village where I was obliged to walk several blocks to a train station, lugging my suitcase like some well-dressed gypsy.

Needless to say, I missed my appointment with The League Against Hedgehog Batting, yet they were kind enough to arrange a meeting for the following day so we might discuss my donation, which I decided — after all I’d put them through — to give them immediately, in cash.

My experience left many questions unanswered. Why aren’t British chauffeurs required to ask passengers to show ID, or in the least, state their full name, to avoid such embarrassing mixups? And if an unwitting passenger should be whisked to a country village far from where he wants to go, why is there no prescribed recourse? Shouldn’t the same agency who plucks him up be obliged to take him back?

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