Another taxi ride

If that one taxi ride was from hell, I don’t even want to know where this one was from.

We had just completed our last substantial shopping trip of our time here in Jordan and were lucky enough to catch a taxi outside of Safeway. We loaded up all of our bags of groceries and Miriam’s collapsible stroller into the trunk of the car. Jeremy sat in the front passenger seat; Miriam and I were in the back.

The driver was quiet and borderline sullen, but sometimes taxi drivers just don’t feel like talking. No problem there.

The problem came when he prepared to light up a cigarette. You may recall our policy on that issue – you know, our strict No Smoking one. Before he managed to light up, Jeremy asked him politely if he could please wait and not smoke at that time. The driver didn’t appear to understand, and lit the cigarette. This time, Jeremy expressed our wishes more clearly and flat out asked him not to smoke.

I couldn’t believe it, but he refused. Not only did he refuse, he did it in a very disrespectful manner, saying sullenly that he didn’t want to (stop smoking). Nonetheless, I was sure he would stop when I played the “meshan il-baby” card.

I was wrong. He just scoffed and continued puffing away.

That was when Jeremy pulled out the big guns. You see, smoking in a taxi is technically against the law, though no one ever really pays attention to that small detail. But in this situation, Jeremy figured we were justified in bringing it up. He pulled the taxi driver’s information card off the dashboard and started reading the part where it says smoking is forbidden. The taxi driver continued to smoke and said something to the effect of “laws, schmlaws.”

At that point, Jeremy told him to pull over and let us out (we were still some distance from our apartment). He still had the driver’s information card in his hand and was still referring to the no smoking clause. As he pulled over, the driver snatched it violently from Jeremy’s hand.

Then he refused to open up the trunk so we could collect our things. He insisted we give him a dinar (the amount on the meter), and only then would he open the trunk. He and Jeremy went back and forth on this issue for some time while I wrassled an increasingly restless Miriam in the backseat.

Then, inexplicably, the driver turned off the ignition, got out of the car, and called the police. This really confused us since he was obviously in the wrong. Nevertheless, we waited for the police to arrive.

Jeremy saw the officer drive by on a motorcycle and ran out into traffic to flag him down. At first, the police officer thought Jeremy was Jordanian and yelled at him for running out into the road like that. But as soon as he realized that Jeremy was a foreigner, his tone and manner changed completely.

Sure enough, the police officer agreed that we were right and the driver was wrong. I don’t know what other result the driver could possibly have hoped for. Smoking in a taxi is indeed against the law, and the taxi driver got himself a ticket for his obstinance. So the driver finally opened the trunk, we gathered our things, and then the police officer even flagged down another taxi for us.

Things continued to get interesting from there. The second taxi driver of course stopped when flagged down by the police officer, but he insisted he couldn’t take us as his passengers as he was already late to a scheduled pickup appointment with someone else. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure the police officer threatened to give him a ticket, too, if he didn’t take us. Whatever happened, next thing we knew we were in the second taxi on our way home.

But the driver really didn’t want to be late to pick up his scheduled passengers. It was on our way home, so he swung by to get them while we were still in the car.

It was an Emirati couple and their baby on their way to the airport. And in one of those twists of fate that reminds us how small the world can be, as we chatted we found out that the husband attended college at none other than the University of Arizona, in Tucson (that’s where our home is in the US, and where Jeremy is doing his PhD).

We finally made it home, safe and sound, with all our stuff. And the moral of the story is that it is really quite unreasonably hot in Tucson – you know that guy from the Emirates? Even he couldn’t stop talking about how excessively hot it is in Tucson.

Forbidden paradise

Why, why?