Ok, so really the biggest part of my trip was this: I got into a huge fight with the cabbie on the way back to Harbin airport. I know, seems a bit silly to divulge the details but frankly, this info is critical to understanding the situation (and ultimately siding with me). So at the beginning of the cab ride, we agreed to pay 100 RMB. Well fifteen minutes into the ride, the cabbie pulled over. On the shoulder of the expressway, there was another cab with two passengers. Our cabbie asked if we could squeeze more passengers into our vehicle. The cab was already quite small, so John was not keen on this. One in the front seat, ok but not two. Thinking that the other taxi broke down or something, I asked our driver what’s the situation? He said he’d find out. He leaves and on coming back, plops all their luggage in the trunk and two people squeeze in, not even acknowledging our presence. What the fuck, right? The driver turns around, and thanks us (meanwhile, the other passengers still say NOTHING, frickin’ mutes). I tell him I’m paying half fare. He laughs it off and drives. Fast forward thirty minutes, we arrive at the airport, the others grab their stuff and jet. No money changes hands between them and the cabbie. I hand the driver 70, instead of the initially stated 100. I tell him, I’m not paying for their part of the fare. We argue. He says we agreed to 100, and we agreed to the others coming on board. I tell him, I said one and he came back with two and just stuffed their shit in the trunk without even asking me. Back and forth. I throw the money in the trunk and leave.
Standing in line to check in, my face is red with anger, but I take a deep breath and calm myself down, thinking we’re out of there soon. Whadya know? The guy parked his cab and came in to find us. He starts yelling and screaming, accusing me of cheating him of his money. I yell and scream back. He hurls all kinds of insults and calls me the worst kind of Chinese foreigner, an embarrassment to all Chinese. I tell him he’s dishonest, and he’s targeting us because we’re foreigners. It was quite the scene. Everyone was watching intently but keeping out of it. He threatened to sue me. I dared him to sue me. Man, my blood was boiling, I tell you. And it’s not easy carrying on like this in another language. I will say though, that a phrase I learned recently on ChinesePod came in handy. When he kept going on and on demanding money, I said, “Have you no ears?” I’m not paying, man. Screw off! Going on fifteen minutes, we neared the front of the check-in line. Thank goodness a tour guide butted in and mediated. I parted with another 10, and at the urgings of the tour guide, psychopath finally left. Can you believe this dude? Paid 5 just to park his car to find us. When I got to the check-in desk, the officer suggested I was in the wrong, 70 being too low for a ride to the airport. Then I explained that we picked up two other people, who didn’t pay him crap. Oh, well then yeah, you shouldn’t have given him anything. That’s right buddy. I’m right. He’s wrong. Get the facts straight.
Oddly enough, my friend who the driver was going to pick up and take to the airport after us (she was on a later flight), STILL ended up using his services. I explained to her what happened, and she STILL gave him business. What the hell, man? She called me today and said he arrived all pissed off but she mediated the situation. How? By telling him that I’m a foreigner and we likely didn’t understand what he was saying. Come again? I know my Mandarin is far from high functionality, but I definitely grasped what was going on. But since she essentially sided with him, they had a nice little heart to heart. The closest apology he offered was regret in letting his temper shoot out of control. Yeah, no shit, Sherlock.
And you know what else? Turns out, this guy is an ex-con! He was jailed for killing someone a few years back. Supposedly, he and his brother were eating at a street side shop. They got into a fight (imagine that!) with two other guys. He stabbed one guy to death. Then, the other guy stabbed his brother to death. Nice. Tit for tat at its best. Whatever though. In the end, my friend gave him an extra 20 even though he “didn’t want it.” That is totally fucked up, man. It’s one thing for her to use his services even after I tell her he’s trying to gyp me. It’s another thing to blame ME for the “misunderstanding.” But Jesus Christ, paying him extra money? That’s the last straw. It’s so OVER!