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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Sunday, January 27, 2008  
    Just got back from my walk to Jounieh.
    Although taxi drivers are the bane of my existence, I’m usually quite patient with them, as I'm patient with other retards, but today I lost my patience a bit.
    First of all, I waited half an hour at the bottom of the mountain where I usually catch a taxi during the day and early evening.
    None of the regulars were there so I had to put up with other passing taxi drivers.
    There it struck me that there are no more taxi drivers in this country, they’re all ‘’gentlemen’’ (or at least they think they’re gentlemen).
    They demand obscene prices and treat you as if you’re begging off them.
    That is until you agree to their exorbitant price, then they’ll treat you like a king.
    I saw one taxi driver who ‘’rejected’’ me (on price) stop at a shop and fetch a drink for his plebeian passenger who was sitting in the front passenger seat eating a sandwich bigger than he was.
    I finally had enough of that and walked down to the Jounieh square.
    I approached a taxi driver who was parked there and told him my destination.
    The usual ‘’how much do you usually pay, how much will you pay?’’ etc questions ensued.
    I never answer those questions because they should state their price and then I, as the customer, can accept or reject it.
    I told him that but he kept on carrying-on so I finally told him a price that was half what I usually pay.
    He rejected my opening gambit and doubled it to the price that I usually pay.
    I told him that that was what I usually paid but that I wasn’t going to go with him but was going to find another taxi and pay that exact same price because he had quizzed me for half an hour like I was a contestant on some bloody television game show.
    So I went into a nearby fast food place where I usually enquire about a taxi and they phone one of my regulars or one of the ‘’civilian’’ plebes there will drive me up.
    One such ‘’civilian’’ plebe who'd driven me before just sat there smiling like a retard repeating ‘’so you want to go up then?’’.
    I replied that yes I did and he just kept on smiling like a retard.
    So I had enough of that and stormed out.
    I flagged down another taxi who then launched into the ‘’how much do you usually pay, how much will you pay?’' rigmarole before I cut him short and told him to state his price which he finally managed to do (wow- wonders will never cease!).
    Of course it was too much so I stated my price and he agreed.
    When I got in he told me that he’d previously taken me up so I asked him why we had to go through all the negotiations and carrying-on then?
    It’s not the first time I’ve had to start from scratch with a taxi driver I’ve already had the pleasure of doing business with.
    I finally got home and had a smoke (although I usually don’t so soon after my walk) but I didn’t need to – I was already ‘’smoking’’.

    Lebanese public transport unions keep threatening to go on strike (which they finally did last Thursday although I didn’t have any problems getting a service to and from Beirut) and I wish they would because that would give us all a much needed break and at least it would sort out the reasonable ones from the rip-off merchants and leave the one’s who wanted to do an honest trade to do the job (as happened last week).
    As far as I’m concerned they have nothing to complain about – the conditions they’re carrying-on about (rising petrol prices, the cost of living etc) affect the rest of the population just as much.

    9:15 pm

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