C and I have been teaching English to local taxi drivers. An average lesson goes like this:
- Taxi Driver: (Pulls Up)
- Abbie: Nǐ Hăo.
- Taxi Driver: (Pulls Away)
- Abbie: (screaming at the cab) **** *** *******!
Yes, rather than seeing past my crystal clear pale skin, poor Chinese and well written directions – you spot the lǎowài (foreigner) and pull away as fast as possible. These interactions are common, annoying and are a reason I’ll no longer have blood pressure problems upon my return to the United States.
Fortunately most of the time, it’s easy to get a cab. And most of the drivers are kind, and don’t try to screw the foreigners by taking excessive routes or charging off meter. Some of them are quite friendly, and repeat the English they know – usually a combination of “Hello” “Goodbye” and “USA”. In return I spit a few words of Chinese (it’s hard since most of my Chinese revolves around food.)
The most concerning part of the average Chinese taxi rides is getting dragged off major thoroughfares (see also: a great place to rape/kill/dump someone) for “CNG” (compressed natural gas). This has happened at least 5 times I can remember, and I’m making it my new mission to snap photos each time it.
Can you imagine in the United States, your cab driver, still on the meter, dropping you off at the curb while he refills? You can’t really argue with it – not when you don’t have enough Chinese. Further, there’s no reason to argue – at most you are gipped $1 – and even on principal I can’t argue over $1 in China.