I Went Ratchet On a Taxi Driver

Saturday, May 23, 2015 Andrea Lo 0 Comments

People complain about Hong Kong taxi drivers a lot, but I was never really one of them. There are far too many things to bitch about, like how the rent is too damn high, it's not sunny when you do a junk trip and most men on Tinder are illiterate. Tonight though, not only did I get angry at a taxi driver, I almost called the police on one.

And of course, what is the point of blogging if you don't a) complain; b) write about stuff no one cares about; c) try to save yourself from repeating this to too many people?

Our office is relocating. It's been a long day/week/life and when I hauled six bags of crap accumulated from almost three years, all I wanted was to a) not be holding them; b) collapse in bed; c) eat a cookie. As soon as I picked them up, I kind of knew I was in trouble. I had a lot of crap.

Like this, but more ratchet
While struggling from the building's entrance to the curb, one of my bags broke in the rain. I managed to get a taxi and got in.

'Sorry, I have quite a lot of stuff. Just grabbing the rest,' I said to the driver. 'Where is your stuff?' He said impatiently. I pointed to the curb.

When I went to fetch the rest of my shit, the taxi door had closed. 'Can you please open the door?' I said, trying to contain three bags, with the broken one dangerously close to giving up altogether. 'The trunk is open! Go and do it yourself!' He yelled.

OMG, why can't you open the door to the passenger seat? I thought. It's automatic! 'Can't you open this door?' Realising that he wasn't going to budge, I changed tactics. 'OK, please can you help me with loading this stuff in the trunk?' I said. 'GO AND OPEN IT YOURSELF!!!' He barked. The rain started getting heavier. The bag split wider.

'Please, please, PLEASE can you help?' I begged. I saw the taxi driver's contorted facial expression while waving his hands, while he continued to yell. Some dude walked by the car. 'Hey!!!!! Do you mind popping this open for me?' I said to him, gesturing at the trunk. 'Sure... Are you OK?' He said, probably because he saw my face. 'Yea, fine... He's just being a dick.'

I got into the car still feeling some type of way, so naturally I Whatsapped seven people in group chat to tell them how I felt. By the time we were almost home, I had (kind of) calmed down. I even managed to be polite to the taxi driver when he asked me which block to drop me off at. If you're asking me why, it's because my superstition belief in karmic comebacks is one of the only things that stops me from socking someone in the face.

I handed him the money, then began to shuffle out of the car. 'Can you open the trunk please?' I said. 'Wai, wai, waaaaaaaai,' he cried. 'What's the problem?' I asked.

'Waaaai, what about the luggage surcharge?'

I don't really know what happened, but that pissed me off so much that I lost my shit. 'What luggage surcharge?'

'Meh ah? You have to give me the luggage surcharge!'

'You wouldn't open the passenger door and then made me put my shit in the trunk and refused to help me when I begged you to!!!!! I didn't even want to put my stuff in the there! And now you're asking me for luggage surcharge? ARE YOU INSANE???!!!' I screamed. His eyes bulged and he went bright red, yelling that I have to pay, or he won't open the trunk.

'Open the trunk, I WANT MY STUFF,' I shouted. He refused and continued to yell. 'If you don't open it, I'm going to call the police right now!!!' I have had many friends pull this move on taxi drivers which I have always felt awkward about, but this time, I really don't care.

The screaming match continued. 'Fine, call the police.' He yelled equally loudly, plus some other stuff. I looked up at my apartment building and noticed the security guards all standing there looking deeply concerned and cars clogging up behind the taxi. And then I kind of thought I'm being dramatic to the point where I am almost my mother, or that woman screaming Cantonese expletives while a cigarette dangles from her mouth in Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle.

Still angry, I asked the security guard to call the police but then realised that sounded kind of stupid, so I got my phone out and started to dial. 'Wai,' said one of the security guards, who had moved to the driver's side to talk to him. 'Stop messing around. Pop your trunk.'

'Hey, let me help you,' a dude comes out of nowhere and said. He had been standing there the whole time watching the incident unfold. 'What do you need?' He said kindly.

Nice dude and the security guard got my stuff out of the trunk. Another guard reminded me to check if I hadn't left anything in the car. 'Pok gai,' I swore as I slammed the cab door shut. Then I remembered I am a fucking lady and began to feel embarrassed about losing my shit at a complete stranger in public, and thanked them profusely.

After I calmed down, I played the incident over and over in my head. Did I do the right thing? How did I get so ratchet? L said I should have taken down the taxi driver's license details. What would it have led to? The Transport Department dictates that every piece of baggage in the back costs $5, 'except light personal hand baggage inside passenger compartment'. It wasn't about $5, of course. There was something about his tone, and the way the whole thing unfolded. All my stuff were in shopping bags which could have comfortably fit on to the passenger seats - if I had only been given the opportunity to do so.

I think it's probably best I leave you with this HK Magazine 2012 feature, Taxi Tales, to keep everyone feeling hopeful.