I am not always that good at standing up for myself but last night when I hopped into an 9-something-something taxi rather than my regular OKTaxi and realized that the meter was already at 2 leva and we’d only driven a block, I asked in Bulgarian to get out. The taxi driver said: but I thought you were going to Mladost. We were just outside of NDK and the Starbucks on the corner. I said: your meter isn’t working right. I was running just way to fast. He pulled over and let me out. Interestingly, when I tried to pay, he wouldn’t take my money.
Luckily he let me out right down the block from a queue of taxis. I walked down to the OKTaxi and asked to go to Mladost. He agrees to take me and I climb in.
Things are going great until we flat tire on Tsarigradsko Shose. My taxi driver pulls over swearing. I think: hey, I’ve always wondered what happens when a taxi driver gets a flat. He’s clearly more upset than I am. I am thinking: at least it’s a warm night and I’m on my way home. I wonder if I should offer to help him change the tire but I don’t.
Why? Because that’s when I realize that I’ve never been in a car with a flat before and I have no idea how to change a tire. I think for a minute about this short coming and wonder how I’ve become this girl. The girl who’s never changed a tire.
I am also the girl who doesn’t know how to drive a manual. And for one brief moment, I have visions of myself learning to drive stick-shift in a Lada. I wonder if I know anyone who’d 1.) be willing to teaching me and 2.) has a Lada.
The traffic on Tsarigradsko Shose brings me back to reality and I remember that I am also wearing new pink pants and standing on the shoulder of a really busy road. This probably isn’t the time to learn how to change a tire or as I suspect given gender roles in Bulgaria, watch a Bulgarian man change a tire.
A few taxis pull over to see if my taxi driver needs help. He asks everyone where they are taking their passengers because we’ve been waiting for the taxi that he called for a while. Or it seems like a while. Nobody is going to Mladost 1A.
My new taxi pulls over to get me and before he does this, my old taxi driver presents me with the taxi receipt. Turns out, even when your taxi gets a flat, pulls over to the side of the road and makes you wait next to a pile of cigarette butts you still have to pay for the 5 leva worth of driving you’ve accomplished before the taxi relay began. The thing is, I was going to give him the money either way, but it was kind of inconvenient to get a flat and he could have apologized for this before shoving the receipt into my hands.
The third taxi of the night it turns out was just right. He drives me straight home and the whole thing costs something like 2.60 leva. I give him three. On my way up the stairs I realize that I could write my own modern fairy tale. Goldielocks and the Three Bulgarian Taxis.
Finally, to taxi 729: I hope that once you changed your tire, your night looked up and to taxi 156: thanks for being my modern-day knight.