A Travel Story

Taxis from Hell!

I’ve written an ebook and audiobook in my Travel Psychologist Travel Tales Series on the best of my own collected personal travel stories of my extensive life of travel. I’m so proud of this ebook. Why not have a looksee or a listenhear?

Taxicabs From Hell

An Excerpt from
Travel Tales of Michael Brein: My Best 100

When it comes to taxicabs, negotiate! negotiate! negotiate!

This is the one word you’ve heard and been told over and over and over again of what to do when you take a cab! (virtually anywhere). But you know what? Even IF YOU DO JUST THIS, it doesn’t always work! Nope, you cain’t hardly win at this game (double negatives for emphasis).

But, would it / could it help even a little bit to learn of the trials and tribulations of other travelers who have suffered these very same taxicab battles of which I speak? I definitely do think so—I definitely do believe—that you do not necessarily have to continually re-invent the (taxicab) wheel. Ergo, this forthcoming ebook and audiobook on “Travel Tales of Taxis from Hell.” Enjoy and learn! But, above all, laugh and be entertained!

NO, I am NOT afraid of flying! Nope, even after over 1,000,000 miles of paid (and free) flying I have yet to experience anything other than the excitement of entering the front door of the next airplane on my way to the next destination. Nope—no fear of flying.

BUT I DO, INDEED, HAVE A FEAR OF TAXICABS! Oh, not a psychoneurotic or psychotic out-of-control debilitating sort of anxiety of cabs—just a mild kind of anxiety that no matter what I do or say regarding where I am going or what the charges could be expected to be—I will be participating in that universal game of being caught in a trap—a taxicab game of chance—whereby I am to be—despite all efforts to the contrary—a somewhat willing participant / ‘victim’ in the perennial taxicab game of the sort that is played, maybe, a billion times a day all over the world.

Oh, maybe I’m just a little bit more paranoid than most—but consider this: I’ve heard the stories from 100s of you! I’ve heard those accounts—and even participated in these sorts of experiences myself at times—where I don’t have any idea where I am; it is late at night; words being leveled at me are unintelligible—and I might as well be traveling with a space alien…

The Story

The Taxicab From Hell
[Travels of the ‘Scoundrel’]
Panama City, Panama, 2005
by Michael Brein

“Negotiate, negotiate the price,” we are told repeatedly. And, this advice is simply too true to be good! Over 90% of my ‘taxi cabs from hell’ travel stories I’ve collected over the years are about cab rides gone bad. Why? Because you did not NEGOTIATE, or agree on the price before entering the cab.

Everyone loves a ‘man bites dog’ story where, for better or for worse, you wind up, for once, having the advantage in the perennial taxi cab wars. The ‘Scoundrel’ in me exhilarates at getting away with something, but always at a cost to others.

My niece and her boyfriend and I were to meet up for dinner in Panama City. They were down there as well as I, so we thought we’d meet in a touristy area of the city. We converged on our own in a seaside restaurant for a nice meal and some conversation.

When it was time to go, we hailed a cab. Now, cab fares are said to be very reasonable in Panama City.

For instance, you could ride across town for as little as $2, so naturally, we felt no compunction in just jumping into the cab and going. 

I tried to make it clear that I would go to my hotel on the other side of town, but that we’d drop off my niece and her friend along the way first. I left it at that. Didn’t feel it was necessary to come to any agreement on the fare. After all, in the States, at least, you paid a single fare, even if that meant that one of your party was getting out on the way.

Now, granted that this is a Central American culture, and that taxi cab practices may vary across cultures, in one way or another. However, the precept was that they’d pay their share, and then I would continue to my hotel and pay from there.

After they get out of the cab, we continue, and it crosses my mind how this was going to work out. Will the cabbie try to rip me off? Does he see me now as his quarry and, therefore, will charge me something exorbitant? I mean, to his way of thinking, if I did not bring up the cost of the fare in the first place, then either it doesn’t matter to me, or I am, indeed, stupid. Either way the result is the same: he can charge me whatever he wants. No problema!

The moment of truth is approaching. The hotel now looms ahead. What am I going to do? I realize that this is not only no good, but there was no wisdom in my ways. I am really in a fix now. I really should have discussed the fare before piling into the cab in the first place. It is now far too late for regrets!

To my mind, the fair thing to do will be to pay him the same fare that my niece paid him, namely, two bucks. I mean, this is THE fare across town. I am paying him twice the single fare. What’s wrong with that? Why should he get paid even TWICE, at that?

So how am I to do this? Well, it’s very interesting how the world works. I decide, first, to get out of the cab, and then to throw the money on the front seat next to him out of his reach. I try this.

The result is he shakes his head  “Oh, no, no, NO!” Shaking his finger now and becoming more animated, he intimates that my two bucks are not nearly enough! What to do?

As fate would have it, two people waiting outside in front of the hotel pile immediately and impatiently right into the back seat, now shouting, “Vamonos, vamonos!” (Let’s GO, let’s GO!). This is all the while the driver and I are arguing. 

Suddenly, I simply bolt into the lobby right onto a waiting elevator with doors wide open. “Close! Close!” I am thinking, hoping, praying, shouting . . . nearly ordering the elevator to close its doors—lest the driver chase me into the hotel and right into this elevator.

The door slowly eases closed, and we ascend. Whew! I am momentarily relieved. I am off scott-free, and I head right to my room.

No doubt, the impatience of the cab’s passengers prods the driver into dealing with the present moment at hand. I suppose he grits his teeth, utters something under his breath, and proceeds onward with his new quarry—other gringos, perhaps.

Whatever one thinks about the ethics and cross-cultural nature of this situation, the cabbie, at least gets two normal fares through us as well as a new third fare at the hotel. So how bad off is the cabbie, really?

I thought throughout a restless night that there would soon be pounding on my door; the door would be thrown open; with the cabbie demanding more money, surrounded by armed goons—no doubt, his other cabbie friends are ready and willing to extort the money out of me. By then, it would be more than just the money: it would be vengeance coupled with any other issues the taxi cab driver from hell might have had with Norte Americanos or America itself.

Well, it might as well have been a peaceful, restful night. And, it surely would have turned out differently if only I had negotiated.


Do taxis from hell pique your interest ever so slightly?

Why not buy or even rent the whole ebook? I promise you’ll more than reap a bunch of fun for the expenditure! Simply click the ESTORE navigation link above and have a look!

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