The Things You Learn From Taxi Drivers

You know what I love about this wacky, wonderful little country we live in? Every single day is a learning experience, and every so often it reminds you just how stupid you really are.

As a so-called pedant and world-class goupi-artist, I’m always offering advice to Chinese students on how to assimilate into Western culture when they arrive for university. I urge them to get the most out of their international experience. Whether they do so or not, students always leave after four years feeling like genuine little Sino-US experts (or Canada, or Mars, as the case may be).

I’m not ashamed to say that I play that card constantly. After four years in Shenzhen, I feel like I know a thing or two. That’s why it’s all the more pleasant when something happens that genuinely surprises you.

On Saturday, as I stepped out of a taxi outside my apartment, my cell phone slipped out of my pocket and into the back seat. Ten minutes later, as I was browsing a furniture store downstairs, I put my hand in my pocket and quickly grew very, very angry.

Luckily I had my receipt, and the shop girls helped me call the taxi company and see if we could track down my car. I called my number…it had been turned off. After twenty minutes of sitting on a display toilet, waiting for a call back, I threw my hands into the air and left.

“I’ll be back in thirty minutes to check again…”

As I stomped up the stairs, I cursed China, cursed dishonest taxi drivers who steal phones, cursed taxi riders who steal phones, cursed the steps, cursed the slow elevator, and made a firm declaration to leave this terrible place for good.

As I was changing clothes fifteen minutes later, my phone rang – it was the security guard.

“A girl just came by who said she found your phone?”

Well shoot fire…I couldn’t believe it. I ran downstairs and Ling Ling the shop girl handed me my perfectly unharmed cell phone. The taxi driver drove back, gave them my phone on good faith, and left before I could even pay him for his benevolence.

What can you do, really, but smile, say duoxie ten thousand times, and give yourself a metaphorical swift kick in the pants for not having faith in the people that speed through our lives every day? Shenzhen taxi drivers. Who knew?

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