Saturday, February 17, 2007

Taxi drivers are assholes

Disclaimer: I met a nice taxi driver once in Edmonton.

Well, I have my Visa. I'm very relieved. I know it is a bit silly but I can't help but feel as though something might go wrong and;


Some authority in the Republic of Korea will spank me so hard that it smarts for a very long time. Especially since I keep on stepping on peoples' toes. I stepped on that wiener's toes (the guy who figured he owned me and threatened to call immigration on me -- turns out he was scared cause immigration would probably bite him too), and I keep on stepping on the toes of my former bosses.

For example, I'm positive that my previous boss will want me to continue working at her hagwon once or twice a week and she will demand that I do so with absolutely no interest on her part to look into or fulfill the paperwork that is required to make this legal (I have it, by the way, on good authority that it is possible to work at upto three schools legally, you just have to get the paperwork sorted properly).

By refusing to break the law you step on Korean toes, there is no way around it. If I didn't break the law nearly everyday in my car I wouldn't be alive or at least I wouldn't be well enough to write this blog. It is also true that every employer of mine has compelled me or cajoled me or hoodwinked me into breaking Korean law. I should just face the fact that Korean laws are meant to be broken, just as Korean contracts have no real bearing on work conditions or agreements. Such are the customs of the land.

We have finally managed to get out of Manila! Phewww! Rosi wanted to take the RoRo (Roll On, Roll Off -- combination bus and ferry), but when we finally got to the Aeraneta bus terminal (near Quezon MRT station in Cubao) at 3:30 on Friday they told us that the last RoRo was at 4pm and it was already fully booked.

Our inquiries about Saturday's trips to Caticlan or Kalibo via RoRo weren't much more hopeful. only the 10am and 11.30am departures were available apparently but instead of taking 12 hours as we thought customary, these RoRos would take 18 and 19 hours respectively.

On the one hand the overnight RoRo is quite cheap but it goes against my grain to waste good daytime on a bus/ferry trip, while adding an extra six to seven hours to an already overlong trip takes the glow away for me altogether. Add to this the problem of not being able to trust a couple of guys boxed into a tiny little booth who won't look you straight in the eye with contradictory information posted on the wall behind them.

I decided just to forget about them and book a flight with Cebu Pacific which ideally would take no more than 1 hour for the flight but cost twice as much money. So what if I spend 40 bucks each for a trip when it saves me 17 hours of travel at 20 bucks a head (infants are free -- of course).

The taxi that we then took to the Camelot Hotel only added to this all too common feeling. I looked at my trusty Lonely Planet guide and estimated that our hotel was about 3 km distant, and the taxi driver asked me for 150 pesos for the trip. I said:

No way buddy! Turn on your meter.

In good traffic there is no way that I would have paid more than 50 pesos for the ride but he complained that the traffic was absolutely horrid and so I was getting a deal with 150. I just ignored him having grown tired of having to repeat myself. When we finally got to the hotel I was carrying the bags and Rosi was carrying Charlize. I asked her to pay and then glancing down I noticed

The meter was covered with a rag and thus so was unreadable.

I saw Rosi handing money to the driver and I impatiently called for her to stop. I asked her how much money he had told her to pay. "150 pesos", she said.

Uncover your meter, I can't read it.

I said rather loudly to the driver. No answer, no movement.

Take that rag off of your meter!

I shouted, rather impatiently. Still no answer and no movement.

Uncover your fucking meter, so I can pay you!!!!!!!

Finally he uncovers the meter to reveal 70 pesos on the digital meter face. What a prick.

Leaving the same hotel the following afternoon we encountered a taxi driver who needed to be told twice to turn on his meter. He then proceeded to try and extort additional money on top of the meter.

50 pesos on top of the meter and I will take a short cut.

When I told him to piss off he started to turn around and head toward the busiest street in the area. It was all I could do to avoid slapping him in the back of the head. Luckily he chose Edsa as his route which passes MRT stations along its full route. We got out at the next station avoiding the snail-paced traffic across the many kilometers we had to travel by taking the efficient, speedy train. Turning a trip from Quezon to Ayala stations from a 40 to 60 minute taxi bake into a 15 minute train ride.

Perhaps I shouldn't think this reflects Manila, I've run into similar problems in Korea with our local taxi drivers as well. I will never forget the first time I took a taxi from Suji Emart to Ori station at about 2am. Suffice to say, the driver conned me into paying 10,000 won when a meter would likely have been less than half my agreed fare.

Isn't it sad that I only remember the way I got f***ed by the taxi driver?

This reminds me of my first experience in Manila in January of this year. I was walking to a 7-ll to buy some beer and smokes when I was stopped by a guy who wanted to sell me "Vee-aga-ra" that's how he pronounced it anyway. My first question was what the hell is "Vee-aga-ra", I finally figured out that he meant Viagra (Vy-ag-ra) and so my second question was, "What the hell? Do I look like I need Viagra"?

That's when I realized that I probably do look like I need it. I'm not slim and trim like I used to be and I don't get any exercise for work, not being too interested in exercise for play either. I guess the guy thought I was a prime candidate. I am getting close to middle aged even though I don't think I look it, perhaps I do look my age to some discerning eyes.

I just shrugged it off and finally said, "Nope, thanks. I don't need it". Thank god I don't.

This brings me to wonder. It seems to be true that the older and more vulnerable you look the more often you get f***ed -- if only it were the good connotation of the sexual act. Or am I getting too cynical in my age?

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