Was it only three months ago that I was suffering from a severe case of Taxiphobia?
You see, the thing is, I’ve been driving myself around South Florida for the past 7 years, and can honestly say that I know it like the back of my hand. From South Beach, to Boca Raton, Pembroke Pines to Brickell, and Dania Beach to Doral – I’ve been there and everywhere…and sometimes, all in the same day.
Before coming to Lebanon, the only time I’ve ever taken a taxi is when I would go to South Beach, park on tenth and hail a cab to take me to 17th, cause I couldn’t be bothered to walk seven blocks in my heels..Two minutes, in a straight line, with a guy who speaks English..not a bid deal.
I get to Lebanon, and LITERALLY from one day to the next, I’m taking 20 minute taxicab rides in a country I know nothing about, with drivers I can barely communicate with, and having to use a currency that I still haven’t figured out yet (math was never my strong point)..So yes, I was flipping out..and for good reason..
My “taxicab stream of consciousness”..
“Why are they taking this way? We didn’t take this way yesterday..Where are we going? Where is he taking me? Should I say something? Is he really going to make this U-turn with 10 oncoming cars coming straight at us? WHAT is he thinking? Why is it taking so long..Are we really passing through Army check points? Is he sleeping? Is he TEXTING? What is he saying on the walkie talkie of his? WHO is Markazieh? I CAN’T believe I thought Trinidad was bad!!”
If nothing else, not having my car has been a valuable lesson in patience and trust, as I quickly realized that I always arrived where I needed to be, safe and sound…So one day I decided,..HALLAS! (which means enough in Arabic)..and made a conscious decision to just LET GO. For those of you who know me, this is no easy task..as I’m easily the most impatient and controlling person I know..
For the first time in seven years, I started to enjoy being driven around, feeling the cool breeze blow through my hair, as I observed life going on around me..Sensing this, it wasn’t long before the drivers started to open up to me about their lives in Lebanon, as it turns out…most of them do speak English.. (side note: I only use a taxi service called Taxi Paris, so I often see the same drivers multiple times in a week)..
Some started to tell me about how they work a second job to be able to pay for their wive’s trips to the salon, while others would tell me how they hope to, one day, afford to get married, and yet others would give me impromptu history lessons on how life has changed since the wars and since the efforts of Rafic Harriri..all this to say, I think I’m cured..and I’m lucky to be learning so much.