Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Taxi From Hell

Nasty Taxi

Taxi drivers here are asked to make 200-400 riyal a day, after that everything else is pocketed, they make that money in the first two and a half to three hours of work so the rest of the 9-10 hours of work are optional so you can imagine A) How crazy they drive B) how much they choose to charge and C) whether or not they get you from point A to point B in a timely fashion. I hailed a cab the other day on Azizia street I ask him to take me to the supermarket on Azizia shamall (Azizia North) which is a straight road and a U-turn to the building I need, I usually do this on foot in 20 minutes but on this day I woke up extremely late and was pressed for time. I ask him how much (You must always ask a price BEFORE you go anywhere as there are NO meters in the cabs!) He tells me that it will cost 25 riyal; I laugh and wave him away, he tells me to get in for 20? I tell him I won’t get in for more than 5.00SR now because he tried to over-charge me; he says he is charging extra because there is traffic and a lot of other horse poop, after some unpleasant remarks made at my expense he takes off.

I hail the next cab and I explain the directions and ask a price he says 10 SR I hop in, as we drive up to the lights I see the cab driver that just tried to rip me off, I roll down my window, wait for the green light and yell “TEN RIYAL BUDDY TEN!” And in case he didn’t get that I then put up both my hands waving all 10 fingers at him...it’s his turn to wave me off.

The cab driver I am with smiles and asks me not to do that again in his cab because he doesn’t want trouble. I consider this a lucky/pleasant taxi cab experience, unlike the following.

A few nights ago I’m waiting in front of a hotel at about 7:50pm prayer has just finished and I can see that the street is very busy I wave for a cab anyway and to my luck a one pulls right up, as I proceed towards the cab I hear frantic honking I look up and see a cab driver glaring at me and honking his horn, apparently he was parked waiting for a customer and I did not see him, he gets out and begins to yell at the cab driver and accuses him of taking his fare, I’m not sure what else is being said but I keep getting pointed at, they are causing a HUGE scene now and I do not wish to be a part of it so I tell them to make up their minds or I will hail another cab, the second cab driver gives in and tells the other cab driver he can have me...I am disgusted by this statement but I guess we are just a market for them. I get into angry cab driver’s car and he is still muttering to himself, I exhale the words “let it go” and ask him how much this fare will be, he gives a reasonable price which is a nice change, little do I know I will get more than I bargain for, this cab driver had NO visible seatbelts in his car and drove like his rear end was on fire.

He kept speeding up and then breaking just as a light changed or a car changed lanes and I would have to throw my hands up in front of my face to avoid having my nose smashed in. The abaya I am wearing is silk and his seats are leather and I am slipping and sliding ALL over the place and trying to keep my dinner inside me, finally we get to a clearing so I calm down...BAD IDEA! This driver takes this clearing as the flag has been tossed at a NAS car race and guns his engine and flies down the road.

As we are heading towards an intersection a car with no head lights on (a custom here) screeches out of the intersection I am looking at the driver of the other vehicle face to face through my side window and his WINDSHIELD (the cars are perpendicular to each other) the other driver slams his breaks and the cab driver swerves to miss the car, then there is a lot of HONKING from both cars. I try to say something to the cab driver but he beats me to it and says “HE DOESN’T HAVE HIS LIGHTS ON!!” I do not wish to piss this cab driver off any further I think his wife must have left him this morning and his cat peed on his only pair of shoes (there was a bad smell in the cab did I mention?) So I gently say “Excuse me sir but you are rolling 140 on a service road, yes, he should have had his lights on but please slow down” Oh he slowed down to a FULL STOP! That’s right; you must be thinking what I was thinking at the time ‘OMG he is going to make me get out in the middle of nowhere!’ Oh how I wish he did! Instead he makes a dead stop half on a sidewalk half on the road (this is NOT parking) he turns to me and says “Wait pliss I get some stuffs, I come now. Wait pliss” I nod, swallowing my dinner again. We are still on the way home I recognize some of the signs so I remain in the car for about 2 minutes and then cannot stand it any longer the cars driving by just barley miss the tail end of the cab so I get out and wait next to the cab, I call my friend that I just parted with and explain that I am nervous and waiting on the road so we talk to take my mind off of it, by the time the cab driver gets back and I get off the phone I had been talking to my friend for TWELVE MINUTES! I kept peeking into the coffee shop he went into and saw him leaning against the counter talking to the employees and laughing, I guess he sees how furious I am and he asks if I want a coffee as well, I say “NO thank you I do not wish to wait for another 15 minutes!” He thinks this is funny, once we start driving I ask him if his family owns the cafe “No, why?” he answers, I say “I thought you were catching up with relatives what else would you have to say to strangers that would take 15 minutes?!!!” He is not laughing any more; I contemplate telling him I will report him, but then decide my life is more important than fuelling this dude’s jets!

Mom if you are reading I did report him and I texted his plate number to a friend, because I was smart enough to take the plate numbers down while the cab drivers were arguing. Oh and I am alive and unharmed, wet pants but unharmed :).