Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That beep is for ME!

Yes, the forgeiner has arrived! And he will be victimized! Well maybe not victimized YET, just charged at least 5 times the going rate for a cab.

Cabs here are NOT TAXI's.

Taxi in Lebanese means you are willing to pay 5 times the price you would as one person sitting in a "sir-visss."

Yes, the cabbies here consider that swearing.

Should you be lucky enough to find a "service" he will proceed to behave in a fashion that appears familiar to any of us behind the fat kid at the buffet.
This slow milling is actually trolling for more customers to pack into the 1940's bondo mobile. The only thing that keeps them benz's is the hood ornament. Mercedes and his buddy Dailmer have LONG SINCE washed their hands of such bastard children.
But I digress, they will stop suddenly and pray that someone who can interpret such spactic movements without focusing upon details. Such details being the long burnt out break lights. He does this only to save his spot in the Lebanese traffic (a topic to be covered later).

Now despite what may have happened to your gold spangled chauffer's family or how much "benzene"(gasoline) in Lebanon costs these days.....The going rate is 1000Lira for ANYWHERE in BEIRUT. You just have to be able to swear politely in Lebanese.

Now that we have covered the fact that there are no milage computers to keep 'em honest or that as they shop for other victims (think packing tinned sardines) of the "service" package that are more ridden with vermin than the last. We will continue to describe a cabbie's interesting behavior.

They are all smokers. Yes every last one of them. Their brand of choice would at first glance be some knockoff of Marlboro but in truth nobody on this God's green earth makes cigarrettes out of horse manure and bus tickets. If they have given up on overcharging you they will offer you one. This is well and good unless you do not smoke in which case denying a cabbie's hospitality is tantamount to smacking his wife.
take it,
have him light it, and then KEEP IT IN YOUR MOUTH so you don't have to talk politics. Talking politics can and will get you into the dilemma you were fighting tooth and nail to avoid, BECOMEING THE CABBIE'S ENEMY. Which translates to being overcharged.

Be warned you are a target even if you are just going for a stroll along what appears to be a pleasant street in Beirut. There are the pythons of the cab world who stealthily park their car and lean against it with the implication that their car stopped to avoid police tow trucks. You will usually get a "Welcome MISS STIR.... TAXI?" or just the batting of the eyelashes, holding the door open, "TAXI?"

From me they usually get a "salamtak" ( your welcome is enough) or just an ignorant look. It helps when you are running late to an important meeting or worse yet running from the General of Beggars minions as she slings her fastest young children to put their staining hands upon your white shirt. Professional beggars are also another topic for later.

Then of course there is the beep. Yes boys they beep at you. I know it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end thinking of the time you got propositioned in Miami's south beach but they just want to charge you 20 thousand for a 5 thousand Lira cab ride. Don't worry if a pile up happens as they slam their breaks to hoot at you, swerve to destroy another curb that escaped the mortar rattled fate of its friend across the street during the war. It isn't because he thinks you are "tastey."

Now if you are unlucky enough to NEED a cab.... You will have to "make the cut." One doesn't just hail a cab in Lebanon, you have to meet the Cabbie's crieteria. Are you going the same way? Are you going to pay for his next gold chain? Can you be masssaged for a few thousand extra? IT ALL COUNTS. As you lean in to spit out where you are headed remember to YELL it, and be prepared to face a cloud of partially burned low grade fuel that would kill a bird within 50 meters as you learn you have not been accepted. No there is no such thing as emmission standards.

Take the advice and ride a bike. The scars are prettier and you can avoid the whole pollution, Body odor, or War for oil issues that plague our planet.
Yeah it is strange and a bit.... no actually russian roulette risky when you haven't trained for bumping found in the peleton. But YOU LIVE FOR THIS GUYS!!!
Remember bubble heads that drive cars do not hear, care, or think. I'm sure it's the lack of oxygen in the car.


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