Monday, November 19, 2007

Day19: Chinese Drivers

People say Chinese people make bad drivers. People see statusq support the stereotype with his well-intentioned but lousy car-handling skills and bad decision-making. But in BJ, drivers aren't bad: they're crazy. i highly doubt there's a mandarin translation for the word "tailgate," and weaving is the flavour de jour.

If you're good at Outrun or Daytona 500 you'd love a taxi ride here. i take my hat off to the BJ cabbies. They work long days and long nights, deal with me and H's lack of vocabulary, and have become accustomed to operate at 100% attentiveness. Check it:
They get up
early and drive their state-owned cabs until
overwhelmed by sleep: 12-18 hour work-days. On a good
month, they can gross 7000 yuan (roughly 870
dollars...the exchange rate is around 8 yuan to a
dollar). Good month or bad month, they must pay the
Chinese government 5000 yuan! Given that the drivers
themselves must pay for gas and maintenance, one
wonders where that 5000 goes.

So that's the life of a cabbie. And there's a LOT of other much crappier jobs to be had around BJ, that's for sure.

It's mighty weird to see so many people scrapin' it, and you use their services, and they don't expect (refusing, even) tips. I was all guilted out by one cabbie who drove H and i for 20 minutes, couldn't find our destination, and then just dropped us at another cab, and drove away before we knew what was happening, or before dropping him a few kuai.

What can you do? Be gracious. And i think that's about it.

photo snagged by Makeijan's flickr.

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