Saturday, June 16, 2012
Last night Anna and I were in Maputo and we met up with some other PCVs who were also in town. We left the bar at around 10:30pm and went to the spot in front of the hotel there where taxis wait to split one home with Gracey, an RPCV (Returned PCV) from Moz who is back this summer with an internship with USAID. Where she is staying is very close, actually on the same road, as where we are staying, so although the taxi would make two stops, we knew that they shouldn’t charge us more than normal (and we have done this before). Per usual, we haggled with them before getting into any car, and actually getting out of the first taxi when he wouldn’t negotiate his price (since at this time of night it’s easier to just get taxis in front of this fairly posh hotel, it’s customary that they try to charge us a ridiculous price at first, but then we tell them no and what the normal price is, and they concede). One guy said he would take us for our price, so we got in and he drove us to where Gracey is staying. When we reminded him of the second address, he told us it would be an additional 50 Meticais to take us there. We began to argue with him, saying we wouldn’t pay more, since we had discussed the price prior to getting in the car. He was being a pretty big jerkoff, so eventually (after discussing with Anna that we were a couple blocks from where we were going and the road was well-lit and lined with guards) I threw the money at him and informed him that we would just walk. As we walked away from him, he got back in his car, drove up behind us, and hit me from behind with his car, knocking me on the ground. Either he only intended to scare me and didn’t actually mean to hit me, or he has done this before and is really good at it, because he hit me perfectly—he hit me enough that I fell down, but not hard enough or straight-on enough to hurt me. Then he sped away. Anna, a good friend, was primarily concerned with me on the ground, so in the aftermath she bent to take care of me, not try to get his license plate number. Of course as soon as I hit the ground I was incensed and all I cared about was getting his license plate number, but he sped away too quickly. Again, I am NOT hurt, I didn’t hit my head or anything. I landed on my butt and my back is a little sore, that’s it. That said, hitting someone with your car is ALWAYS an idiotic and unacceptable move. Immediately after it happened we called our Peace Corps Safety and Security Coordinator, Alfredo and he said that we would go back today to try to find the guy. When we arrived I recognized the driver whose taxi I had gotten out of last night because he wouldn’t lower his price (turns out I probably should have just forked over the extra 50 Mets…then I wouldn’t have gotten hit by a car), so Alfredo talked to him and another driver. Alfredo asked if he remembered us and when he did, asked the name of the guy who eventually took us. He then asked when he would be back at work next. Alfredo explained that this man had done something bad while he was out driving and he just wanted to talk to him. Alfredo was really good at this, he approached the topic very gently and slowly, because you would expect these guys’ first reaction to be to stand up for their buddy. Alfredo reminded them that having a guy like this driver do something bad would reflect negatively on all of the drivers and impact their business. They agreed with him, told us that the guy had never actually returned after he took us last night, agreed that he couldn’t do things like that, and told Alfredo when this guy would come back to work, as well as when the chief of the taxi drivers would be around. This will be Monday, so on Monday Alfredo will return to try to sort out the situation. I really appreciate Peace Corps’ support in this situation, Alfredo is not only always working hard to take care of us, but also demonstrates that he is good at what he does. Things like this blow my mind really. I was pissed at the taxi driver, but never in a million years would I be tempted to hit someone with my car out of anger, and it never crossed my mind that someone else would. In what world is that okay? Anna reflected afterwards that it’s likely the reason he reacted so strongly was that he couldn’t handle two women standing up to him. But again, because the phrase “I got hit by a car yesterday” seems to elicit a strong response from people, I want to stress the fact that I am not hurt!