I like to believe the best in people. Really. It’s not that I am naive, but I think it does have something to do with my mama spoon-feeding me Love and Logic. So despite the fact that I get disappointed again and again, I walk right back through the same old door. I give people opportunity to do what’s right.
If you are white and in Mexico, someone is bound to take advantage of you. If you’re a woman and speak very little Spanish, you can bet that will happen more often. I love this country, so don’t get me wrong. I love the people! I love the culture! I understand that taxi drivers work hard for their money every day. But it’s just the principle…
One day, Victor and I came home from Sam’s. We had this sweet old taxi driver, and he chatted with us the whole way. I’ve learned that the silent taxi drivers are the ones who are usually pretty fair. Sometimes I will get a taxi driver that wants to practice English, and I always try to chat with them. (Like with most people, this comes out after I butcher the language a little. I think they either feel more comfortable screwing up English or they feel sorry for me.) In any case, this sweet old man charged us 50 pesos for a 23 pesos fare. And we paid it. Because he was old. And sweet. And you shouldn’t talk back to your elders.
But as we walked into the house, we vowed never again.
It really shouldn’t be a problem here in Torreon. But it is. They have a law here that every taxi is required to have a meter. But they don’t. The meter starts at 8 pesos. Often you’ll get in a taxi, drive three blocks, then realize they aren’t running the meter. This is annoying. Victor and I have decided not to ride in taxis without meters anymore. It’s just not worth haggling over. We don’t even argue about it–we just wait for a taxi driver who is following the law.
I hate that it’s making me resort to my mean American ways. While Victor tells stories about how my doctor showed up to deliver my baby without gloves (He was appalled that we had to buy the gloves. Then we were scolded by the doula for buying the wrong size. How does a doctor go to work without HER tools? he asked me.), I resort to guilt. (Thank you, Mama.)
Victor will say, “This is your job. You have to have what you need to do your job. What if I went to put a roof on a house without tools?”
“Why don’t you have a taxi meter?” I ask. Regardless of the driver, I always get a story about it being broken, etc.
“Well, it’s the law. I don’t understand how you don’t have one in your car,” I say. I tell myself that this helps…
More often than not, I just make a plan on the way home from wherever I happen to be. If he gives me a fair fare, I will give him a tip. If he tries to charge me too much, I won’t. What really gets me though, is when they don’t give me my change back correctly. This is often the older middle aged men as well. I am sorry, I don’t buy that they can’t add. These guys work all day for their pesos. They can count out change like nobody’s business. This is also a take-advantage-of-the-nice-lady act. I don’t give them tips either.
Victor says I need to call them out on it. But there’s the whole issue of respect. How do I tell an old man that he’s being dishonest? He also says I need to just speak English when they pretend to not understand me–just to show them how it feels. I say Victor was probably not treated too kindly in the States either…
Today, I finally did it though. I had an eye doctor appointment. I struggled out the door of the place lugging my car-seat with my hunk-of-burnin’-love inside. She was fussy, wanted to eat, and wanted to sleep. So once outside, I put the seat down and picked her up. I put my super cute diaper bag inside her seat. And I waited. Before long, I heard a honk, saw a wave, and the bright yellow taxi turned around. The man hopped out to help me. This isn’t unusual, as I am a woman with a baby. But he also had a broken beer bottle in the back seat, so I was grateful.
We drove back to my house, and he got out to put my car-seat up on the curb. Then I asked the price. And he told me a price too high. So I gave him my I’m-so-disappointed-in-you look (Once again: thanks, Mom!) and replied with the correct price. Do you know what he had the nerve to say?
“But I helped you. There’s no tip?”
Ahem. Perhaps, taxi-man, you should come into my second grade classroom for a day. We learn that we shouldn’t expect anything for helping others. What happened to you? Did your teacher reward you with candy when you did things that you should do? I didn’t say this, of course.
Instead, I just said, “Well, don’t help me if you’re going to charge me extra.”
Take that, taxi-man!