April 25, 2010

Fawny business

OK, I've got some grey in my hair, but sure, I'm not a blonde, nor even bleached. Even so, I'm mad.

This evening some people I know needed a taxi. I went to the nearby stand from where we get taxis so often, most of the waiting drivers know us and greet us. Today, a guy in white said he'd take the job, and stood listening as I explained where he had to go to pick up his fares, and where they wanted to go ...

... until, in mid-sentence or maybe even mid-word (I am not making this up), he suddenly turned and ran over to a pale-coloured woman from one of those Western countries, hair nicely bleached blonde, who was walking towards the stand. She hadn't even indicated she wanted a taxi. To him, her trending in this direction was enough. At her side, he actually bowed to her and directed her to his cab.

When I got over my astonishment at being so summarily abandoned, I shouted across at him, what are you doing? He waved a hand at me in some irritation, then said there were plenty of other drivers available.

You're right, Mr Fawn-Over-the-Expat Taxi Driver, there are plenty of other drivers available. But that's not why you never get my business again. Ever.


Anonymous said...

How American to take your business elsewhere. (But where?). The poor taxi driver is trying to make a living under circumstances far inferior to your own. Would you not, instead, take him under your capable wing to coach and guide him towards better customer service? He went to the blonde since whites tip more freely, pay more, in general, than locals. He just needs to improve his style, where I am sure you can help.

Saby said...

C'mon Dilip, You should know by now. We Indians are biased towards fairer skin as a general rule. In this case, the cab-driver is just working on a stereotype, that westerners tip better or may be he can charge them more. The joke would be on him if that woman turns out to be one of those white-skin stand-ins for bollywood.

Girish Shahane said...

Dilip, it's not about fawning, nor about tips as anonymous suggests, but about blatant cheating.
You will know if the chap charges the night rate instead of normal fare, a foreigner is less likely to do so.
So, yes, foreigners get better service, but they get fleeced as well.

Dilip D'Souza said...

In my mind, I went over and am thus aware of some of what you three above mention: tips, fairer skin, cheating perhaps above all.

While it was all annoying, I think in the end what got my goat most was the way this guy turned on his heel, as I said, in mid-sentence; in fact, to the best of my angry recollection, in the middle of repeating the three-syllable name of my building.

Though having said that, I have to admit I'm puzzled: would I have been any less angry had he said politely -- "Thank you, but no thanks, I think I'll go offer my services to that foreign lady there"?

Nothing like being able to laugh at this stuff, and your own reactions, a day later.

Y? said...

I have dealt with this in so many ways (being refused hotel rooms because I am an Indian , because I am an Indian girl with a white man , being randomly abandoned by taxi drivers etc etc etc- I can no longer empathize with ''them'' living under inferior circumstances(as anonymous suggests). i just expect some courteousness .

Anonymous said...

The discourteous behaviour is upsetting and I completely sympathise with you. The Fawny Business Ethic is quite evident everywhere. Quite difficult to reach for that empathy. It's just that "I will take my business elsewhere" has almost no effect in such a scenario where d^3 has to go back to that taxi stand near 'Are OM. anyway and he really should try complaining to the head guy at the stand -- they could come up with a better way to "walk" the guest.