Today was one of those days that is planned down to the minute. Everything has to fall into place or fall to pieces. And yeps, it was much more the latter than the former. It started not too bad. I knew our driver had to go do car registration. He went yesterday but didn’t have Scott’s police card (sort of like a driver’s license but not) so he couldn’t get the registration. He was trying to save us the exorbitant fees that Toyota charges by doing it himself.
I on the other hand had to be an hour away at the American Women’s Association by 9:00 am. This required a taxi ride. I ordered one for 8:00, was told it would be here at 8:30 and was called that it was here at 8:10. That is about par for the course. Then the taxi driver headed in the wrong direction. I had enough bahasa Indonesia to ask him where he was going and he assured me he knew how to get there. Just took a longer way to get to the road I am used to traveling. For some reason there was little traffic this morning and with very little stopping I arrived 20 minutes early! (It really does happen sometimes. The AWA Center is truly only about 25 minutes away if there was no traffic or red lights.)
First order of the day was an informative talk given about by our security consultants. It covered everything from earthquakes, floods, and floods to personal safety, health, and many other topics. Some of the information I had heard before and some was new but it was all a good reminder to be prepared. One of the topics during personal safety was use of taxis. Our company recommends we use the Blue Bird Group and I have adhered to that since I have been here. The speaker told of a practice whereby an unscrupulous taxi driver will let cohorts “detain” you until you give them your credit cards, pin numbers, cell phones, laptops etc. The Blue Bird Group has never been accused of this practice, which is why they are recommended.
Next was a race to one of the member’s house for a board meeting. (Yes, I stuck my hand up and volunteered earlier this year to be a co-chair.) I texted my driver to meet me there but he was STILL trying to do the registration and he was now north of the city and a good 2 hours from me. There was no way I was going to get from the meeting to my bahasa Indonesia lesson so I had to cancel that. I told Scott I would just get a cab home. After the meeting was finished I was going to call for a cab but the hostess said the security guards in front of her complex could do it. I joked, “As long as it is a Blue Bird!”.
When the cab came it had backed into the driveway and the door was held for me. Since it was a blue cab I didn’t look closely and just got in. As soon as we started out I called Scott to give him the cab information and realized I was NOT in a Blue Bird! They had called a discount cab company that just looks like one. I had told the driver where I wanted to go but I was starting to panic a bit. What if this was one of THOSE cabs that they talked about. I texted and spoke with Scott again. There was nothing creepy about the cab and for the most part I was not worried but I was worried. After texting with Scott again I told the driver I changed my mind. He insisted he knew how to get to where I originally wanted to go. I told him my husband was going to meet me close by and to take me to a restaurant that was just up the road. He did not know what I meant. He asked if I wanted to go to McDonalds. I said no and asked him to take me to a hotel that was just around the corner. I told him it was near Kem Chicks Supermarket.
By this time I was getting a headache. There were gas fumes in the car that really smelled and I could hear the security guy’s voice in my head. I almost lost it when he passed the hotel. I told him he passed it and he smiled and said “Kem Chick’s” and pointed ahead. I guess I was going to the grocery store! No problem. I happily paid him and got out. I called Scott to tell him where I was when a REAL Blue Bird pulled up to let out passengers. I asked if he was available and hopped in.
I called Scott again and gave him the new info for the cab I was in. I settled back and felt so much better. The new cab driver used a route I was familiar with and made some chit-chat in bahasa Indonesia. I was able to understand and answer his questions in bahasa Indonesia as well. Pretty soon he was talking 90 to nothing and I followed some and occasionally most of it! So much for skipping my lesson. It was great practice to be forced to use my new language. I even learned a new word!
When I got to my apartment I was so happy to have escaped what I imagined could have been a horrific experience. (If you don’t know I have a great imagination!) I ended up overtipping him but didn’t really care. He was happy…I was happy…Scott was happy. It was just one of those days!
Afterwards: Reading this you might get the wrong impression of my feelings of safety in Indonesia. Truly I feel safer here than in most cities in America. The people are friendly and caring. Crime is not that bad. Violence is at a minimum. Today’s non-incident was a reminder to stay on top of my game, wherever I am in the world. Follow safe guidelines, pay attention, and when you have to, “vote with your feet.” (Vote with your feet = walking away from a situation that makes you uncomfortable.)
Bonus story: During the talk about “taxi detainment” the security guys said that for the most part they do not want to hurt you. They have been known to take cell phones but return SIM cards and to take wallets but return enough money for the victim to get a cab home! Only in Indonesia would you find a considerate thief.