Friday, April 18, 2008

Taxi Cab Confessions Mexico City Version

I've been taking many taxis (from authorized taxi stands) because I am located in the boonies, far from the center of town. All the cab drivers around here are unfailingly polite, well spoken and fabulous so far. It amazes me that I pay about 15 bucks for a ride that in NY would cost three times as much (that's how far I am from the center of town). I'm staying at a suburb for the well-to-do. If you've seen (and you should) the film La Zona, there are similar compounds around here. Yesterday, a cab driver was telling me that he doesn't like the night shift anymore because there are too many accidents, drunk drivers and irresponsible pricks who think they're at Le Mans. He told me that twice already, drunk young entitled wealthy juniors, as we call them here, have rammed down the cab stand late at night. In one instance a cabbie was injured. However, they've walked away scot free because the president of the cab drivers refuses to prosecute or even call the police. He does not want to antagonize the wealthy neighbors.
The cabbie says: those kids should at least see the inside of the police precinct, so they should learn a lesson. This will probably happen when hell freezes over.
Another story from a cabbie: a Mercedes Benz arrives at the entrance of the fancy private hospital around here. The guy leaves his car in the middle of the way, gets out as he talks on the cellphone and as the bewildered valet parking guys are trying to get his keys or tell him to move, he completely ignores them, as if they did not exist and were not talking to him, creating instant chaos. He doesn't surface again for at least 30 minutes. I ask if perhaps he had an emergency, but then he would have taken himself to the emergency area.
I instantly think "well, in this case you call a tow truck, or the police, or both, and you tow the car away, see how happy the guy is when he gets back". I would call a tow truck and thrown the car off one of the many ravines around here, for good measure. Oops, sorry, pal.
Apparently, it did not even cross anyone's mind to do this. There is a kind of paralyzing tolerance of abusive, "powerful" people in this country. There is even a widely used word for the kind of petulant arrogance that such people wield: prepotencia.
You don't have to be actually politically connected or powerful, you just have to look like you have money and act as if the waters of the Red Sea should part wherever your presence is announced, and the rest of the people start behaving like serfs. Then they probably entertain murderous revenge fantasies that may be the reason why some people choose to live in compounds where that kind of interaction between the haves and the have nots is reduced to the minimum. The servants and the served.

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