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Tedious Taxi Trouble E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Bro Fan
Cab driver got the full whack of my jetlagged frustration as I arrived into the capital this morning. A female cab driver, I might add - always a novelty over here, but in my epic experience, on balance they do tend to be the ones that rip you off even more blatantly than their male counterparts. And this specimen certainly did herself proud.

If you’ve ever arrived at Beijing airport, you’ll know the score - before you’ve even got your baggage there’s already some geezer puffing on a fag collaring you for a cab. “Taxi SIR!!?” - I scowl - “Maybe later” he concedes, moving onto the next whitey and his fabled bulging wallet. Once in the arrival halls, the floodgates are unleashed as all manner of brown-coated shifty-looking males attempt to lure you into their respective rattling vehicles.

After a 12-hour international flight, often the last thing on your list of priorities is starting a yelling match with these unsalubrious characters after having just set foot on Chinese soil. But these guys are full on.

“Chaoyang thirty dollar. Where you go?”
“How much to Wudaokou?” a red-eyed frizzy-haired American inquires.
“250 yuan”

At approximately three-times the going rate, I feel compelled to intervene on her behalf - to great yelps of outrage from the money-grabbing con-artist and his entourage, but eternal thanks from the young lady. Braving the whole “OH you speak English too! How long have you been in China? (read: will you be my friend?) chat for a few minutes, I drink in the sneers and evil stares from the lackeys and make my excuses.

At times I can be nice. But at other times, I feel it’s almost a rite of passage to allow foreigners to learn the hard way: even your humble correspondent has fallen foul of the old dodgy meter trick once or twice, and even, in a tremendously cocky moment, poo-pood the official cabs and taken my own hei che - with the predictable outcome. I don’t know, perhaps China is turning me into a cynic, or making me question a sense of responsibility to help people who are about to be royally fcuked over - but at least I learnt my lesson. I only lost out on about 100 kuai, and coming from the UK, I could live without that seven quid: precisely the logic these little shits use, I guess.

Anywhere else in the world, I think if someone came up to me and started to preach about being careful, don’t do this, that, go there, here etc. and dishing out advice hand over fist I would tell them in no uncertain terms to sod off. Do I look incredibly stupid? But here in China, I think that’s half the problem - as a Westerner, to a not-inconsiderable percentage of Chinese people, you are stupid.

Think about it, you don’t have the 5,000 years of history, you can’t read, write, or speak Chinese, and you suck at the zither. You only went to see Crouching Tiger because you like wildlife, you entire language is made up of 26 simple letters, and you can’t even work out chopsticks. I mean, seriously.

Anyhow, it was legit all the way for me today, yet still the little bitch of a woman still returned 4 kuai from my hundred with the meter at 67 RMB. Erm, the rest?

“No, erm, I made a mistake, because …..(enter bullshit excuse of the day)….”
“That’s not my problem. It says 67, give me thirty back and we’ll call it at that.”

A disgusting purple 5 kuai note is fed through the grille.

“Ok, goodbye”
“Erm, the rest?”
"...(repeating bullshit excuse, this time inexplicably producing another receipt for a further 80 kuai)...”
“And this is whose problem, precisely?”

It’s just so f*cking tedious to go through this every time. You pay what’s on the meter, plus any tolls. Don’t go giving me all this horseshit about how you didn’t press this or that button - I’ve been awake for over 24 hours, I don’t care a flying f*ck about anything right now. The money shot was when she started getting lippy, and to my immense amazement, the security guards on my building got involved - ON MY SIDE. Yes, this is a radical departure from the days of Xiao Git and his sticky fingers. This dude was zero tolerance:

“Driver, you must obey the rules. Charge what is right.” he boomed, clearly fresh from the set of some Maoist propaganda flick.

Do people really say that kind of thing in real life? Again, only in China…

Our valuable Editor Bro Fan has been with us since Sunday, 06 June 2010.

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