Well worn seats, stained or dirty floor mats, gum wrappers on the floor, semi-crushed Kleenex box above the backseat licence ID of driver displayed, smudged windows, digital display of meter, signs regarding passenger conduct/legalities, cell phone, radioing system, door locks, cup holder with Slurpee cup/coffee/water/etc by the driver, candy wrappers, pen hanging from the dashboard on a string, air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror, dust, cracked or pitted windshield, clipboard with paper on it sitting on dashboard, Visa machine and slips, sign stating tips are appreciated, steering wheel, gear shift, can display panel, magazine or newspaper on the front passenger seat, take out container yet to be disposed of, umbrella
Music on the radio, matching the taste of the driver, discussions on a cell or radio between driver and dispatcher, squeaky springs in the seats down a bumpy road, traffic noise outside, humming, small talk, the click of a seat belt, blips on the meter, the driver hitting the horn at someone in the way, the purr or rumble of the motor (depending on how well it's maintained), backfires, grinding gears, the driver tapping the steering wheel as he drives, breathing, coughing, throat clearing, animated conversation between passengers, questions fired off to the driver, the crinkle of bills, the creak of a door opening, the slam of the door shutting
Old carpet and fabric seats, dirt, dust, the cabbie's lunch breath, lingering odors of coffee and food eaten in the car, cologne or perfume, hair products, sweat
Popping a sweet mint or breath freshening gum in the mouth before arriving at destination, the cabbie taking a mouthful of take out food as he drives, water, coffee
The give of bouncy seats, strapping a seat belt over lap, pulling on the door handle, pointing a building out to the cabbie, straightening clothing, smoothing wrinkles, checking self in the mirror, tousling hair, fixing make up, digging in a pocket, wallet or purse for cab fare, unfolding a slip of paper with an address printed on it, handing cash to the cabble, setting purse on lap for the duration of the ride, cabbie's hand on steering wheel, fiddling with the radio, shoulder checking, pointing out sights to vacationers, taking a call on the cell or checking for texts, shifting impatiently
--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
As I settled into the spongy seat and pulled the door shut, I caught a strong whiff of Kung Pao chicken. Great--just my luck that I'd end up with a driver with a lust for Sichuan cuisine. I barked out the address and then sat back to wait, taking as few breaths as possible. A take out container sat between the seats, dripping vomit-yellow sauce. The driver popped one of those useless complementary thank you candies into his mouth like that would help. Places like his lunch stop should be forced to hand mouthwash or breath strips instead.
Right in the middle of the sightseeing tour along the canal, Sharon's soft-spoken driver suddenly leaned out his window and launched a tsunami of angry foreign words at a tardy pedestrian crossing the road. Once the walker scurried to the sidewalk, the cab surged forward once more. The grandfatherly driver smiled at her in the rear view as if nothing had happened, and then continued to describe the historical significance of each building they passed.
--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile)
The cabbie spun the wheel erratically like a DJ running turntables at an all ages club. Either he had no idea where he was going or he hoped that tossing his passengers from side to side might dislodge spare change from their pockets, padding his paycheck a little.
Example 2: (Metaphor)
Brett glanced around the cab interior as the car pulled out into traffic. This one appeared grungier than most with a bundle of clothing rags spilling out from underneath the back bench, granola bar wrappers littering the floor and a dirty old pillow laying against the far door. He narrowed his gaze, picking up other minute details, like the toothbrush poking out of a pouch slung behind one of the seats and a sleeping bag rolled up and tied in the front. Hold it, was this a backseat or a bedroom?