Thursday, December 25, 2008

everybody was kung fu fighting

Today is a momentous day. Not only is it my 4 monthiversary with China, it's also my 1 year blogiversary! How serendipitous is that?

To commemorate this, I would like to share a story with you. A very Strawberry story. One in which I kick ass and take names, of course.

A few nights ago a bunch of my grad school friends went out to celebrate our last day of the semester (that's right, I'm half way done!). Good times were had by all, cheesecake was eaten by some, it was a pretty kick ass night to say the least.

It's about a 30 minute cab ride home from Puxi (where all the night life in Shanghai is), so unless I plan on staying out until the subway opens at 6AM, I try to leave "da club" by 3:30 at the latest. Plus, the DJ was playing way too much Sean Paul and not enough B Spears, so Romy and I decided to call it a night a little after 3AM.

Our friend Penny lives kind of near us, but not really close enough to share a cab, at 3AM, though, a lot of things seem to make sense that normally wouldn't, so the three of us shared a cab back to Pudong. After dropping Penny off the cab ride was already more than it usually costs to get back to our dorms from Puxi, but since we were splitting it three ways it wasn't that big of a deal. At first.

It started to become a big deal when the tab was twice as much as usual (140RMB compared to the usual 70RMB), and we were nowhere near our school yet. Then, I noticed the cab driver was literally driving us around in circles. I don't know if he was legitimately lost or purposely running the meter, my guess is a mixture of both. He kept pulling up to other cab drivers and asking them stuff, but since I don't know Chinese he could have been asking them a number of things. Who knows.

Finally around 160RMB and the third taxi our driver stopped to ask for directions, I told Romy we should just get out, toss 100RMB at him, and jump in the other cab. In theory, this was an excellent idea. The driver was clearly lost and/or dicking us around, and there's no way that a cab ride from Puxi to our dorm would be over 100RMB, so giving him that much was more than fair.

In practice, however, this theoretical excellent idea of playing the ol' switcheroo on our directionally challenged cab driver turned out to be a very shitty idea. After all, it was 3:45 in the morning, I literally had to wake Romy up to even tell her about my plan, neither of us were exactly in the right frame of mind to do much of anything, much less ditch our cabbie and stiff him on the fare.

Once you set a ball rolling, though, it's hard to stop it. The problem is, once we got out of the cab, the other taxi had already driven off, so we had nowhere to run to. The driver comes over to us screaming and yelling, presumably about us paying him the rest of the fare. We start screaming and yelling and then the guy grabs my arm and tries to pull me back over to the cab so I started hitting him with my purse and we scream and yell some more. Of course, I couldn't have been wearing an outfit less conducive to fighting crime:

Me and my effing headware and peacoats, but I digress.

In typical Chinese fashion, a crowd starts to form of passersby (4 truck drivers on their way to work I'm guessing). Also in typical Chinese fashion, they did nothing to help.

I'm trying to get this guy off of me but none of the ball kicking self-defense moves I learned in college seemed to be working, probably because I was wearing ridiculous shoes and could barely even stay balanced. Romy is yelling at him to let go of me and also hitting him with her purse. The guy starts hitting me and grabs onto my purse (which, remember, I was using as a weapon) and we played a game of tug of war which ended with the strap from my purse breaking, my shoes digging a gash into my foot, and Romy throwing 30RMB at the driver to distract him as we ran off to another cab that had stopped to see what all the commotion was about.

Romy jumped in the front seat and I tried to open the back door, but all the adrenaline pumping through my veins made it impossible for me to perform any task that required thinking, and pulling a door handle was too much thinking for me at that point. I hopped in the front seat with Romy, and I'm sure we were quite a sight to behold with me sitting on her lap for the remainder of the taxi ride home.

Which, I might add, was a measly 15RMB.


Kel said...

a VERY similar thing happened to me when I went to Beijing! it was sooo scary, but I knew the driver was trying to rip us off... the only time I felt unsafe in China the whole year I was there!

Andy said...

Oh My God! This is probably the highlight of my WEEK.