That Time A Taxi Driver Thought I was Playing A Prank on Him
Hello everybody, and welcome to another blog post about how crazy it is to live in Israel. The stories I have of things that just happen here cannot be made up. Israel is this weird country that is mostly first world but also has things that are third world, like how sometimes you just don’t have hot water because the guy who was supposed to work on your water boiler was sick that day, so instead he sent his son, who is 17 and actually has no idea what he is doing, but his father was all, “It’s fine,” so you have no choice but to say OK and now you have either boiling hot water or freezing cold water but at least you didn’t have to pay for it to be fixed.
Because Israel is growing rapidly, the street signs and navigation instructions are always wrong. This means you never get mail and also food delivery is impossible. In fact, my Hebrew speaking developed because of all the directions I had to hurriedly give out so I can get my pizza while it was still hot.
Just kidding. There was no way I was brave enough to order food. It took me 10 years to build up the courage to call a pizza place and speak in Hebrew. Navigating a website is very difficult as well, because I’m dyslexic (probably) and boy was I glad to finally develop that skill.
Anyway, because new streets and buildings are being built every second, the GPS is usually unreliable. This is especially correct when it was 2011 and the Israeli GPS system that was in cars was developed in the ‘90’s and not at all updated. And Google Maps still had the thing where it called areas of Israel “Palestine” and it’s like, this is post 1948, Google, get your shit together.
Anyway, this all culminated when I needed to get to the airport for a 5 AM flight and obviously I did not have a car because, well, my driving skills are poor, and also cars are expensive, and also who the heck drives themselves to the airport? Only sad people, amIright?
So I ordered a taxi. This was before any taxi apps (in Israel. In the USA I’m sure Uber was a thing) and I had to call a taxi company and order a taxi. The issue of speaking a second language on the phone was that my terrible American accent could cause any easy-to-say word into utter nonsense. The street I was living on was named Simha Holtzberg, and like, c’mon, who can say that clearly anyway?
This reminds me of a time when I tried to help my friend order pizza and he lived on this street named Amatzya and I tried with both and American accent, a Hebrew accent, and spelling the street out, and still the delivery person had no idea what word I was saying so like, I don’t even remember how we got the pizza but it took way longer than it should.
Anyway, the guy giving out jobs to the drivers at the taxi depo totally understood me and the issue only came when the driver himself had trouble finding my street because — surprise! — my street wasn’t on the GPS.
So at 3:45 AM, I’m there messing around with my boyfriend and not really paying attention to anything else, and I get an angry call from a taxi driver accusing me of giving him the wrong address. Because he can’t find it, so it must be wrong.
I assure him it is correct. I give him the street that is parallel to my street, which is thankfully much easier to say (Yoni Netanyahu, an actually famous person, rather than some dude named Simha who probably survived the Holocaust or whatever but no one has heard of him). We hang up.
Three minutes later, the taxi driver calls again and is confused and lost. I can’t help but giggle, because this is so classic me and how I easily get lost and also, of course this driver can’t find my street, because it was built like last year and it’s 3:50 AM and everything is impossible to navigate in this crazy country.
But then, hearing my laughing, the driver gets suspicious. “Are you pranking me?” he yells.
Yes, taxi driver. I have nothing else to do at 3:52 AM than call a taxi to take me to the airport for a pretend flight I have. Ha, ha. You got me.
Then I had to desperately try to convince this driver that no, it wasn’t a prank, and I actually need him to pick me up now because I will be late for my flight and oh no did he turn around and give up!?
So I ended up rushing out, dragging my luggage a block away to a street that actually did show up on the GPS.
Thankfully, I made my flight. And, thanks to Waze, the GPS here is a little more sophisticated.