Using taxis in cities around the world has been a fascinating experience. The variety of methods of payment and operation could fill a chapter in a book for sure. Here’s just a couple…
In one Africa country, the payment was just 40c anywhere in the city. This sounds great. Of course the other side of the coin is the length of time you take to reach your destination. At such a competitive rate, the driver seeks to get as much business as he can. These drivers are adept at route-planning on their feet as it were. You will eventually get to your destination but it could take a while as he weaves all the other clients into his route. Only good to use this service if you have plenty of time. Certainly not so good if you have an important appointment.
On another occasion, in Asia, I asked a taxi driver how he calculated his fares. He replied, “I count the number of lamp posts we pass and charge accordingly…” Fortunately, I knew the fare for my destination as I travelled that route regularly. I thought it was a creative idea anyway. On another occasion, in that same country, I was en route to the airport one morning by taxi. Suddenly, he was called over by the police. He then turned to me to ask if I might assist him with the fine.. I said I would contribute a little but pointed out he knew the possibility of such a fine as he was out of his prescribed area but keen to have a good customer. He had a well kept cab with a reading desk, current newspaper and sweets, so he was trying but also a “gambler” as it were with routing regulations.
Taxi stories are so diverse. One morning, a group of us from overseas were visiting one of the Embassies. We hailed a taxi and piled in. The taxi driver was somewhat overcome by so many visitors from other countries and turned into the wrong lane. Soon a police officer was there to issue a fine. I talked with the officer to explain that we had somewhat overwhelmed the driver. We were his first clients on his first day as a taxi driver. Quite a story.