One of the things you have to put up with when you are an expat is the battle against the Taxi Cabs. Cab drivers around the world can be your ambassador to the country or city and sometimes they can really turn you off from a city. In Amsterdam, the taxi guys who worked the Centraal Train Station were crooks. I learned to direct them to the police station that shared an address with my house if they were refusing to use the meter there. In DC, it was so bad, they made a movie about it starring Mr. T.
In Bangkok, we all have stories of the crazy cab drivers... refusing to take you places, dumping you off on the side of the highway, refusing to use their meters, charging $25 to go two blocks, discrimination, clipping toenails and snorting weird substances and if you aren't lucky, murdering their customers.
I thought at first that Amman, Jordan might be a bit easier than Thailand. My first three months went okay aside from loud "bellydancer" music and the non stop smoking in the cabs. But last night was apparently the beginning of the end of my honeymoon period.
After stopping three times on my normally 20 minute ride home last night (for water for himself, to check the oil in the car, to add more oil to the car), the taxi cab pulled over four times to ask for directions to the very famous shopping mall (Taj Mall) I gave him as a landmark. He managed to get himself lost in the valleys around Abdoun. We went under the bridge four times. Finally, he got another taxi driver to lead him to where we were going. At this point, I had been in the taxi about an hour and he had had 10 cigarettes and the sun had set.
We finally arrive at our destination and the meter says 3.75. I had him a 5 and wait with my hand outstretched for my change. He makes a lame attempt to look in his pocket and says no change. We're in front of several restaurants, a 7-11 type place and a liquor store. So I say, i only have 5 or 2 JD. No change! No change! So I throw the 2 JD at him and get out of the cab. I walk into the liquor store to avoid him. He starts complaining to the myriad Jordanian men who hang out in front of liquor stores about me. They come in and say "Miss, he says you only paid him 2JD and he took you here all the way from Khalda". My dander gets up "He stopped three times, got lost, took an hour and then tried to cheat me! " I said - "Ignore him, he knows what he did." The liqour store advocate agrees with me and goes out and yells at the taxi driver. The incompetent taxi man keeps going around and complaining about me to all the other men hanging in front of the liquor store.
Another one comes in to complain for him to me. "YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS!" I said with a fiery face. They all looked frightened. I came outside - yelled at the taxi driver some more and then went into the restaurant to meet my friend. The valet parker comes over to talk to the maitre d while I'm waiting to be seated to say what the taxi driver said. "DO NOT GET IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS!" I shouted, "He tried to cheat me, he was incompetent and I am not going to pay him a penny more." At this point, I was ready to give him 5 JD just to get rid of him but I really hated the idea of being bullied and cheated. I went into the ladies room. A Jordanian-American woman asked me what was wrong, I told her. She agreed with me. She said, "IF anyone gives you any trouble, I will help you. You just call me." I went back outside and asked for a table for two. Everyone looked at each other, shrugged, and that was the end of that.
I, however, needed three beers to calm down.