If you take “services” (shared taxis) in Beirut then you are used to rejection. Any time you want to go somewhere in a service you have to give your destination to drivers countless times before one finally agrees to take you where you want to go.
Sometimes I think it’s understandable; there are other people in the car and they’re probably not going my way. But other times it seems ridiculous; I just want to go from Hamra to downtown, which isn’t that far, and the car is empty and already headed in that direction. Occasionally I will be rejected so many times that I finally give in and pay double price even though I KNOW I can usually get there at the regular price.
So yeah, taking services in Beirut you get to know rejection.
Well, today was different. For once I rejected a service. A couple of cars had pulled up to me, one after another, as I stood on the side of the road, and each time I said “downtown” the driver gave that barely discernible head nod (meaning “no”) and drove off. Then, a service pulled up which was truly disgusting. You know the old cars that are so beat up they have holes in the seats, are being held together literally by duct tape, and really have no business being on the road? Well, it was one of those. And I decided I didn’t want to get in that car. (I was once in a similar looking service that ended up being a shared ride with a cockroach. Yes indeed, after that ride I decided it was my right to not get into a car that should have long ago been taken to the dump, if I so chose.) So this car pulls up to me and I wave my hand to say “no thanks.” But the driver had seen me trying to get a ride with a service just in front of him. I kept shaking my hand “no” but he insisted, “Why yes for the other car, but no for me?” I tried to brush him off but he kept asking. So I said, “I don’t like your car.”
“You don’t like my car? Are you going to buy it?”
“No,” I said, “but no thank you.”
“If it were raining, you would like my car. Where do you want to go?”
“Yes,” I had to agree, but no, I wasn’t getting in that car. Not to mention, once I said downtown he was probably going to reject me anyway. After much insistence he finally drove off. I negotiated with a few more drivers and finally got my ride downtown for the acceptable price of 2,000LL.
But I have to say, if the taxi drivers of Beirut are going to reject us passengers left and right, they should learn to take a little rejection themselves.