By the time we paid for dinner at our restaurant, it was dark and everyone and their mother wanted to find a taxi. After five minutes, we finally flagged one down, and hopped in. Al-mustashfa al-ordon, we directed. Jordan hospital. He thought for a minute and we repeated, al-mustashfa al-ordon. How could he not know where it was? Every taxi driver in Amman knew the hospital. Finally, he seemed to have a lightbulb moment and started driving. But we noticed that the meter was already at .95 JD, about four times as it should have been. Al-adad, lowsamat, we said and pointed at the ticking meter. The meter, if you please. Al-adad? He asked, as if he’d never heard of a meter. Nam! Al-adad! we repeated emphatically. Al-adad hamsa wa ashreen fee kul taxi kul eeoom, we pressed. The meter is .25 JD in every taxi every day. He played dumb. La, la. Al-adad kwayis. No, no. The meter is fine. That was all we needed to know about this taxi driver. Hone, lowsamat. Ma bidna hada taxi. Here, please. We don’t want this taxi. He pulled over right away and we got out. But as we clambered out the door, he pointed to the meter and said hamsa wa tisaeen. 0.95JD. We fumed. La. No way were we paying that. He insisted that we had to. Safely on the street, one of my friends yelled ma salaama loos! and we walked back down the road to the restaurant. Goodbye thief, indeed.
We caught taxi number two slightly before reaching the restaurant. He looked slightly more promising, but when we got in and looked to check the meter, we couldn’t find it. Sometimes, drivers place the meter on the floorboard next to the passenger side, so we asked, wain al-adad? Where’s the meter? Ma fee. Mus mushkila. There isn’t one. It’s not a problem, he replied. We weren’t about to get ripped off so we repeated, ma bidna hada taxi. Bidna taxi beeadad. We don’t want this taxi. We want a taxi with a meter. He was less grouchy about letting us go than the previous driver, and we started our hike back to the restaurant for the second time.
The third taxi driver seemed nice enough. When we settled into the back seat and saw the flashing red display, I sighed in relief. Adad heloo iktheer. What a beautiful meter! Our drive back was fast, and we were charged the correct amount. For us, the third time really was the charm.