Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rant: taxi queue

portenos queue for the bus. a BA queue makes an english one look unkempt. woe betide the unsuspecting tourist who fails to notice the neat line of people waiting to board, since you will be shamed right off the bus.

given this, i naturally assumed that a taxi queue would work the same way. there's a sign outside the ferry terminal reading TAXIS. next to it is a long line of people -- a little more scraggly than they would be for the bus, but after all they're dragging suitcases and moving about in groups of three or four, so scraggliness is to be expected.

mo and i join the back of the queue and wait for a cab. and wait and wait and wait. taxis arrive at the ferry terminal, but the police officers shoo them away. i don't know why. illegal taxis are cruising the line and looking for business. i've taken dodgy cabs in new york and belfast but feel nervous not knowing the language well enough. then again, what's the worst that could happen: i pay more than three dollars for the ride up to palermo viejo? still, i reason, best not to chance it. there are people behind us in the taxi line, so we won't be left alone. they'll have to send some more cabs soon.

they do. a virtual fleet of cabs pulls up to the taxi rank. whereupon the system breaks down utterly. actually, i take that back: there is no system. cabs pull up to the queue and snag whichever party they feel like. it's hard to feel indignant when it's a family with a young baby that gets the first cab -- maybe the driver is a father himself, i think indulgently, and 1 AM really is late for an infant to be out in the world, let alone her parents -- but before i've finished thinking that, three more cabs have pulled up ahead of us in line, a handful behind us, and everybody's piling into their rides. suddenly, mo and i are all alone in the disappeared queue, the middle of the pack apparently just where you don't want to be.

what is that about? what kind of a city actively tricks people into believing that courtesy will be paid, that there's method to the madness, and then coldly betrays it? in new york, you'd get rolled for this kind of anti-social behavior. in belfast -- well, the less said about belfast in the 90s, the better.

let me just say that it makes it much easier to imagine not tipping the cabbies.

of course, there's much to say about uruguay, and i will try to give it some shape tomorrow. meanwhile, now that i have that rant out of my system, i'm hoping i can get to sleep.

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