Taxis, and their drivers, are an interesting phenomena for me. You don´t shop for salt, toothpicks, or taxi rides. You obtain them when you need them. When Ingrid and I run short on paprika, we don´t discuss what we are willing to spend on it, nor do we shop around for the best brands. We don´t gnash our teeth about maybe getting ripped on the deal. We just go buy a bottle. We look at taxi rides from the same perspective. It is a commodity.
Why, then, do taxi drivers here, and especially in other countries we travel, work so hard to get us in their cab? If I need a ride, I´ll flag you down. Heck, Talea does is for sport; we have to wave taxis away sometimes because when Talea spies one, she starts wagging her finger at it. She knows that little cab will travel through hell and back to get over to our side of the street. Fun kid.
It never fails. I´ll be walking down the street, and I´ll here, “Taxi! Taxi! Taxi”, or a honk as they slow down and approach me. Do they think I´ll say to myself, “Self, although I´ve seen a few dozen honking taxis drive by in the last five minutes, and I only have a block to go, a taxi sure does sound appetizing now after all that honking, slowing down, and shouting. My, that kind of marketing should be rewarded. I´ll hail the next honking, slowing down, shouting taxi driver I see.” Not likely, mis amigos.
That said, I´ve learned a lot from taxi drivers. I´ve learned that I am grateful to have finished my college degree and to be gainfully employed. Also, taxi drivers have informed me if I´m getting a good deal on my rent. They´ve shown me how nightfall can increase cab fares an average 234.28%. One dominican driver pointed out that I could count on my five fellow backseat companions to support me as I got out of the cab because my legs had fallen asleep. I walked like a drunk for a quarter mile. A chofer in Haiti showed me (while driving, ofcourse) how to hold the chicken´s legs so it doesn´t flap all over the car. I remember the chap in Mexico City who said, if I wanted to stay in the car all the way to my destination, to hang on tight to the wire that kept the door shut. That, dear readers, and much more I have culled from those fine ambassadors of mass transportation; the latin-american cab driver.
Still, I don´t need to shop around for that kind of help.
Licenciado Pepino Suave