Oh My God. We're Being Kidnapped...
You know that bit in the Out Of Towners when she says, "Oh My God. We're being kidnapped"? Well, it happen to us.
We picked up a taxi from outside Flinders Street station in Melbourne yesterday to take us to the airport. A 20 minute direct drive that would give us time to spare before boarding our flight to Sydney. Our seasoned Iranian cabbie seemed chatty enough. He'd obviously been cabbing for sometime and was asking all the usual questions, "Where were we from?" "How long had we been in Melbourne?". Significantly he did not ask us, "Do you know anything about how taxis can try to rip you off?" or "Do you have any sense of direction?"
We were first alerted that something was up when he turned off the main road to the airport claiming that there was an accident up ahead. Quite how he was supposed to know this we are unsure. For the next 30 minutes we made left and right turns through housing estates, drove out to the countryside, back into town and even took three right turns in a row. Subtle, huh?
"You are taking us for a ride, mate", says Mark. "Oh My God. We're being kidnapped", ventures me half joking. "We're Iranian hostages!" Only the joke started to wear a bit thin when we realised we were going to miss out flight.
The meandering continued. A few minutes later we had had enough. "Get us to the airport NOW. We have a flight to catch" we say. "It'll be another 30 minutes", says our cab driver (driver number 518121 should you ever what to avoid this odious creature). "WHAT?! Look, we know you are trying to defraud us. We're not stupid, you know. Get us to the airport right now or we call the police" His accent became much thicker as he tried to weasel out of it often contradicting himself: "I know this area very well. I live here. It's a short cut" "I've only been a cabbie for two weeks I don't know the area very well"
Eventually Mark said, "You get us to the airport NOW and we may not phone the police." He had the cheek to say "You pay me what you normally pay. You pay me what you think I should get!" I said, "We will pay you NOTHING, you will get us to the airport NOW, and you are going to count yourself very lucky if we do not call the police." The emergency services in Oz can be reached on 000. "I am dialing two 0s on my phone and will dial the third if you do not drive us directly to the airport"
That seemed to do the trick. He turned off his ludicrously high meter, 5 minutes later we were on a motorway and within 20 minutes we were at the airport - the trip had taken an hour - three times what it should. We now had just four minutes to get our flight. FOUR MINUTES! We grabbed our bags and flung ourselves out of the cab and into the airport.
Luckily the lady at the Qantas check-in desk was very understanding and got us on the flight. Phew! Three cheers for them.
We will of course report our errant cabbie to the Silver Top Cab Service, Melbourne. Casually ripping off tourists for $120 fares which should really only be $40 is not only illegal but rather destroys one's faith in cabbies in general.