Sunday, 15 January 2012

World cab

Trying to get a fair deal in Nassau, when it comes to just about anything, is an art. Trying to get a fair deal from a taxi driver, on way to the airport, in Nassau is something different entirely. My parent's are about to land and we're rushing out of the marina and into the streets to find a cab. We called for one from the marina office, but it's been half an hour and it hasn't shown. Gabe, in a composed, nonchalant way, speaks to a man that spots us walking down the busy East Bay St., offering his taxi services. We try to make it sound like we've been around the block and know what to expect, but I'm sure the driver isn't fooled. Regardless of our apprehension the cool, streets smart Brazilian makes his move. He asks for the going rate and upon hearing the price of $35 he ponders on it. The ball is in his court. He juggles the information on our end for a minute, acting unimpressed and then fires back a counteroffer at the Bahamian. Gabe tells him we'll hire the cab to the airport and back for a discount. It doesn't stick. They both laugh. Another offer comes our way. The Bahamian says he'll do it for $35 each way, but won't charge us to wait at the airport. We think that's a grand idea and pile into the cab. We know that $35 is the going rate and we're prepared to pay that much. We all laugh in agreement. Brazil 1 - Bahamas 0. We engage in friendly chit chat on the 40 minute ride to the airport, as we take in the sun scorched surroundings of greater Nassau. Donna Summer's concert comes through the speakers. The driver tries to keep it low enough for us to carry a conversation, but I can tell that he want's to turn it right up and just get lost in the music. Who can blame him, "It's the last chance for romance tonight". 

At the airport parking lot the Bahamian asks us to retrieve a parking stub from the machine at the gate. The Brazilian fumbles in confusion, trying to recover his composure and get back in the game. The Bahamian explains, only now, that if he is to wait for us, we have to pay for his parking. Really? Brazil 1 - Bahamas 1. We don't give it another thought, we're too excited to see my parents and we rush out of the cab and into the terminal.
The Bahamian follows, he wants to make sure we don't forget about our deal. He's really very cordial, inquiring about our backgrounds and our plans. He wants to know about the white and red Polish flag I'm holding. I brought it along to salute my parents on their arrival. He retreats respectfully, saying he'll give us space to welcome them, and will come to collect their bags when they get here. We spot my parents still in the baggage claims, on the other side of a sliding door that expels people in small chunks into the main terminal. I frantically wave the flag to get their attention until they spot us, too. When they finally come out it's a frenzy of hugs, kisses and flashing camera shots.
My parents are glowing with joy. Excited and chatty we make our way towards the cab where my parents enjoy a long coveted cigarette, while the driver arranges luggage in the back of the van. Coming out of the airport we pay $2 for parking and muse over the chain of taxi cabs waiting at the main terminal, ready to pick up fresh fare. We realize we didn't need to have the Bahamian wait for us, we could have just grabbed a different cab back downtown. He didn't give us a deal anyway. Brazil 1 - Bahamas 2. We comfort ourselves and agree that perhaps a different cab driver would not take us back for $35. The parking fee is a small compromise for the benefit of having a car waiting and willing. The important part is that my parents are here. On the ride back the cab is buzzing with conversation interrupted only by glances out the window at the run-down yet bright and cheerful neighborhoods surrounding downtown Nassau. When we arrive at the marina we think we're neck to neck with the Bahamian until he delivers the final kick. We're being charged an additional $6 for the two extra passengers we picked up at the airport. We're surprised, shocked even; that's a rule of the game we were not aware of. The Brazilian gets back on the defense, but it's too late. The Bahamian sneaks it past us, we pay what we owe, and he finishes with a 3:1 victory. Game over. 
We pout for a second and then resume our merriment, dismissing our defeat on account of the Bahamian's cunning, a tactic inherent to taxi drivers world wide. We hold no grudges and we don't dwell. It's a "local eat tourist" kinda world, and we understand that. We're here to have fun and we just can't wait to get started. 

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