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Heather Jaber 21 Aug 2015

Weirdest Beirut Cab Experiences: Part II

We’ve all had at least one. Whether it’s creepy, funny, or emotional, the Lebanese cab expe-rience is not to be missed. At the risk of sounding like one of those clichéd journalists who talk about the romance and quirk of Lebanon’s post-Civil War social scene, there are all sorts of cab drivers, from the hardened pessimist who grumbles about the political state of the country, to the overly-friendly guy who asks you questions that are just a little bit too personal.

Because just one article about weird cab experiences isn’t enough, here is part two.

“In a service (sir-veece) once with a buddy en route to Hamra, we offered the cabby a drink from a7la 3alam. He kindly declined, but told us during his seafaring days he was quite the drinker. We asked if he was a sailor and he confirmed that he was, and would voyage to distant ports all over Europe… He told us about Scandinavia, about the French riviera, and then told us about the Swiss coast. Switzerland was the catalyst, because they have no coast.” -Ilija, 25

“On a lighter, more heartfelt note, I was once sitting in the backseat of a Charlie Taxi and got really annoyed with how the driver was driving with one hand. He couldn’t stay in a lane and pressed the breaks very abruptly. I kept telling myself that the ride would be a short one and I’ll be off soon. After he didn’t press the brake hard enough before a speed bump, I shifted from the win-dow seat to the middle to ask him if he can drive less recklessly. But before I can say anything, I saw that he was driving with one hand because the other was holding some kind of stick attached to the floor of the car. I thought it was a farfetched stick-shift, until I saw his right leg stopped at the thigh. I thought, could this be real? This guy doesn’t have a right leg and is driving…for a living. Looking back, for a man without a leg, the ride wasn’t that bad. He lost his leg when a mine ex-ploded during the civil war.” – Ilija, 25

“At the end of a particularly long, congested route to my friend’s place, the cab driver turned around, held up his cigarettes, and said, ‘You know why I smoke these? Because Hitler smoked these.’” – Mahmoud, 20

“An old man, who called himself Dr. John, told me he knew all, including my past and future. He kept asking me to hold his hand, which I declined. Apparently the hand holding wasn’t neces-sary, because he proceeded to tell me that I get angry but cool down fast, I have a sweet heart, and I was going to meet a sweet guy. Then I remembered I was in the same cab with the same guy 2 years before, and he had told me the exact same things. So either he really did know my future or he says the same thing to everyone. When I got out of the cab, he yelled across the street to me, ‘Tell them about Dr. John!’” – Sara, 23

And it seems like more than one person had this experience…

“One guy decided to interpret my life once and grabbed my hand to read it and then it just went downhill from there.” – Sarah, 25

“I get in the cab and said ‘To Treesome, Gemmayze, please.’ He’s like ‘Where is that?’ I told him the names of some other places nearby. He’s like ‘No no, gemmayze, how do I get there?’ I was pretty surprised, and asked him how long he had been a taxi driver, and he said 8 months. I asked how it was that he didn’t know where Gemmayze was, had no one ever asked to go there? He said no. I said ‘Okay, it’s near Centreville, next to Annahar newspaper.’ He still did not know. Then he goes ‘Ah! Gemmayze! So I go through Mansourieh, then…’ I said, ‘No! No Mansourieh!’ So I told him I would show him how to get there. For some weird reason, I fell asleep on the Dbayeh highway. I wake up and we’re on the Baabdat highway on the way to Broumana. I ask where we are going. He’s like, ‘To Gemmayze!’ I’m like, ‘Not from here! Why didn’t you tell me?’ He said ‘I didn’t want to wake you!’ So we U-turn. We get near Virgin and I say to turn left. He’s like ‘Ah! Next to Saifi Village!’ I’m like, ‘You know Saifi Village but not Gemmayze?!” – Danny, 27

“I was in a service going home on a cold day and the driver was an old grumpy man. He saw a young woman walking by who wasn’t wearing a lot of clothes. So the guy got really mad and said something like, “STAGHFARALLAH IT’S WINTER AND SHE’S DRESSED LIKE A WHORE!” I didn’t say anything and was close to home, but there was a lot of traffic. Then I hear this weird sound and I see his hand go up and down fast. I look closer and see that he started masturbating like a crazy person. I don’t know why I didn’t panic — I found it rather funny. I felt safe because I was near home around a lot of public places, so I said to myself, ‘Let me take a video.’ I turned the camera on and pressed film. The problem was that I forgot to switch to video so there was this loud flash sound. He turned suddenly and was like so surprised there was someone behind him. I literally jumped out of the cab.” – Nayla, 27

“I was trying to find a dentist’s office that was near AUH when a car pulled up and the driver called out, ‘Taxi,’ which I thought was overkill because the large red sign on top of his car had al-ready alerted me to its purpose in life. I asked him for directions and he told me, ‘Get in, no problem lady, no problem.’ He literally drove one block and a half and asked for 10,000LL. That’s how I learned what ‘Taxi’ means in Beirut.” – Shannon, 44

“I went into a cab one night and sat in the backseat. There was a typical meat-head driver and an African man in front. The African man kept telling the driver he was going the wrong way because he knows the route to his own house. The driver was offended, and started huffing and puffing, ‘This is my country. How dare you tell me the roads in my own country?!’ The African man said ‘Because you have no idea and you think you know.’ So the driver grabbed him by the shirt, saying ‘How dare you,’ and the African man started throwing punches. Mind you, I was still in the backseat with really pathetic attempts of saying, ‘Guys, khalas. Khalas guys.”A full-on fight ensues, they’re punching and grabbing as the car stands still in the middle of the street. It was when the driver reached in the glovebox, I was like ‘Oh hell no, that’s a gun.’ I got out of the car and ran. I was still looking at the car to see what would happen. Nothing, they just drove away with both of them still in the car. Is the African man dead? Did they make peace after? Did I realize I might’ve been part of a prank show? Who knows…” – Ramzy, 23