Apparently this extends even to rickshaw drivers. Twice a week I go for language tutoring with a lovely local girl my age who is sweet and super patient. She lives where I was living before, so I have to go the other side of town twice a week to get there. It is a bit of a hike, but worth it because I doubt if I could find another consistent language helper who is as great as she is. Anyway, so on the way back I can either take 2 buses which will take me about an hour, or I can take one bus and a rickshaw for about a 30 minute journey. Though rickshaw’s aren’t my favorite, I usually opt for the latter because by the end of the day I’m too tired to withstand another long bus ride.
It’s not really protocol to determine a price beforehand, but most all kwaja’s (foreigners) I talk to do it because otherwise we are easily ripped off, and the driver’s won’t accept what is the usual price. But sometimes once I greet the driver and tell them where I’m headed they get the rickshaw going too quickly that I don’t get a chance to bargain a price. The trip from Africa Road to where I live usually costs 4sdg, 3 (about $1) if I’m lucky. So on this particular night we get there, I hop out, say thanks, and give him 4sdg. He is like “What?! No! It’s 6!” Now, I really hate confrontation, but in this instance I really knew better than to give him more money. So we argued back and forth for a bit. Not arguing in a local sense, but more of the usual bargaining exchange between a person and a patron. But from an American stance it sounds like arguing. I wouldn’t budge. I said that I always pay 4, that I come that way all the time etc.., a few times until he laughed and said ok. Then he told me that I would be his regular customer. Ok buddy, sure.
Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be able to pick him out if I tried. In any case, I kind of like the idea of being a regular customer and I look forward to establishing more relationships with the lovely folks around me!