Temper, Temper

2014-01-17_T (1) 2014-01-17_T (2)

18 January 2014
6:13 PM
Manila

M.–

Yeah, I think the universe was able to read my past two letters and had a nice laugh about it. Decided today to test my sense of self. Or perhaps it’s just my turn for cab karma.

You see, before I got in the cab, I had my misgivings. Looking back, I probably should’ve listened to my gut. The driver was an old man, his car even older. It felt like riding in a tin can. Usually I like drivers like him, because they remind me of my grandfather. But this man–he was rude, and assuming, and greedy.

The moment I sat there I immediately regretted it. And as the cab turned right instead of left, a ball of dread started to form in my stomach. He said, “We’ll go here, okay?”, not really waiting for my answer. It was a longer route, but I thought I’d allow it. I mean, maybe there’s traffic in the usual streets. Maybe this is better, I told myself.

Then along the way we stopped for gas. When I saw the sign up ahead I understood why he wanted to go this way. I took a deep breath and tried to remain calm. He said, “We’ll just stop for gas, okay?”, not really asking for my permission. When we got in line, the meter was still running. It’s not supposed to, but I didn’t say anything. Then he turned to me and asked for money. He said, “It usually takes you a hundred bucks from here to Quezon Avenue, right? Can I ask for it in advance?” I shook my head, my throat closing up. I cursed all the days that I can’t tell the man who cuts my hair that I don’t want that style, all the days when the cashier lady doesn’t give me the exact change because they ran out of coins and I kept my mouth shut.

The driver repeated his question, and held out his hand. This has never happened to me, ever. I finally told him that my usual trip is only eighty bucks, and he nodded his head, and held out his hand. I opened my wallet and gave him a hundred-peso bill. He went out of his cab and did whatever it is people do in gas stations. When he got back, he handed me twenty bucks.

The closer we got to my destination, the more apprehensive I got. I had a feeling something bad was going to happen, that this old man was going to trick me, that it won’t end well. When we got to the bookstore, I promptly got out, not looking back. He started shouting after me. He was pointing to the meter, it said Php92.50. I told him I already paid him, but he said I should fork over the difference. I said no, I’m afraid not, because we already had an agreement. But he was shouting all the same, in the middle of the street, holding up the traffic, people pressing their horns on us.

He started pointing his finger at my face, calling me names. Fix yourself, he said. Finally, something snapped inside me, and I started shouting back. I told him how his meter was running while he was filling up on gas, which wasn’t allowed. That we waited in line even, and we were there for a bit. That I gave him my money even if I wasn’t yet where I was supposed to be, that he specifically asked me how much my usual fare goes from there to here, that he already asked to be paid ten minutes ago. He–he was such a bastard. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. But because I was I, I finally got the same twenty-peso bill he gave me earlier, threw it inside his cab, and specifically told him to shove it in his face.

Afterward I felt very horrible, you know? My face was hot, and I was trembling all over. I can’t believe I can say those words to another person, let alone someone older than me. I have a lot of respect for cab drivers, but for some reason this one takes the cake. I told my story to my family, and they were incensed. My father said he wouldn’t have paid at all. He even got mad at me for being such a fool. What was the point of arguing, he said, when in the end I paid the extra fee, plus tips?

Agh. I hate that this happened. I am angry that I was taken advantage of. Even angrier that I let it happen, that I caved in. Why am I so bad at situations like this?

T.

P.S. This one of the reasons why I don’t like people.

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One thought on “Temper, Temper

  1. I don’t think you’re bad at situations like that. I think the situations themselves are bad. I don’t think you caved. I think the money was the least important part of this whole experience. I think the most important part was that you spoke up and spoke out and spoke back, and that has nothing to do with respect or lack of respect and everything to do with truth and the dignity of honesty. It doesn’t matter that you paid the money in the end, or that you paid him more. What matters is that hopefully you gave him the experience of perspective and value and what it means like to be stood up to by someone you are trying to take advantage of. That money will feel differently in his hands now than if you just gave it over without a fight.

    I’m proud of you.
    M

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