Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Biggest Stress

The biggest stress in Israel, aside from never knowing where or when you will again find bathroom facilities, even though you need to stay HYDRATED, is that everyone tells you to negotiate prices.  Negotiate taxi fares, negotiate goods at the market, never settle for a price if you can get a better one.

But, of course, this is a land I've never been to before, and I have no idea what a fair price is.  How do I negotiate for a taxi ride to a place I've never ridden?  How do I know if 20 NIS is the right price and if the driver should really charge for extra passengers?  How do I know if he's driving out of his way to jack up the price, when I have no idea where we're going to begin with?

Reminds me of all the cautions your friends give you about relationships, all the things to look out for and be aware of even though you have no idea who you're really with just yet or how you feel or where things could possibly go.

It would be great to think that your past experience could guide you, but just like taking a taxi in Israel, all my other cab experiences didn't exactly apply.  When one cab driver told me how to spot a Jewish driver vs. an Arab driver, and to never go with an Arab driver, I thought this is really information I just can't use.  I can't interview cab drivers who stop on a street corner, and I'm not willing to divide the world up this way, especially when I'm already late for where I'm going...wherever that is.

My sister said at one point, her mother-in-law was mistakenly just hailing white cars driving by, not realizing that taxis have the little yellow "taxi" bubble on the top of the car.  When you don't know what you're doing, it's easy to mistake the real thing for what looks like it. 

So, in Israel, I negotiated where I could, where I understood the value of what I was negotiating for, and left the rest for those more experienced.  Everyone is trying to help you avoid being a sucker, being humiliated by your lack of knowledge, being played for a fool.  But sometimes you're just on your own, just having to figure it out as best you can - in Israel, in love, in life.


Wanderlust said...

OMG, I love this. Of course, of course, hindsight, etc.

As someone on her second divorce, I think I've hailed too many white cars thinking they were taxis. xx

Glen said...

Very clever - I like it, I took a towel from a hotel in Tel Aviv once and was so scared that I'd get shot for it, that I snook into my "friends" room and took it from there.

I'm not sure if that's as good a metaphor as yours though - or just an indication of what a good mate I am?