Ramble: A Weird Encounter With My Taxi Driver

I'm getting really bad about posting regularly... sorry. I figured, perhaps when I don't have some sort of scheduled formal post for the week I'd just post an update or story from my week...

So here is this week's.

I recently went home to America for my brothers wedding (!!!!!).

My site has a local airport with 1 flight a day to and from Kyiv. (Yes I know that is super Posh Corps). That flight lands around 10:00pm and there are no buses that go to or near the airport. The only way to get out is by hiring a taxi. Which is what I did.

Now the last time I flew into Chernivtsi I just used a taxi that was sitting there and didn't call ahead (HUGE mistake). That guy charged me 200 UAH. A normal cab ride of the same distance by a taxi driver not trying to rip you off would cost about 50 UAH to 60 UAH depending on time of day and traffic.

So this time around I used the local app that allows me to order a cab. (There are no English speakers at any of the taxi dispatches in Chernivtsi so trying to order a taxi via phone can be really difficult with my conversational Ukrainian).

I landed, he picked me up from the airport, and then drove me to my apartment. Super normal cab stuff. We chatted in the car on the way. He spoke a little English and was excited to meet someone from America.

When we arrived at my address, he offered to help me take my bags in. Which was actually really helpful because I live in a courtyard and the path from the street is dirt and is full of pot holes so rolling my suitcases would have been super difficult.

He even carried my bags up the stairs to my door. Which was really helpful. I did try to get him to leave them in the foyer so he wouldn't know which apartment I live in, since I live alone, but, he insisted on helping me up the stairs. (Side note. He was in no way being creepy, malicious, or pushy. I genuinely think he didn't think I could carry my suitcases up the stairs... which was an accurate assumption. It would have taken a few trips and been a little difficult so the help was greatly appreciated)

Upon arriving at my apartment, I thanked him for the help, pay him the fare and go inside, considering this a successful and normal cab trip. Then, around 10:30pm my phone rings, and it is the taxi driver's number. I answer because I thought maybe I had left something in the cab, I mean why else would your taxi driver call you post trip.

I pick up the phone and he says

"Hey this is your taxi driver, I realized I didn't introduce myself and I wanted to. I am Insert generic name. It was nice to meet you. I enjoyed chatting with you in the car."

So then I said:

"Oh yea, um, nice to meet you too. Thanks for helping me with the bags"

Because having your taxi driver call you is a weird thing... Right? I didn't really know the proper course to continue the conversation.

He continued talking, but I wasn't sure what he was saying (mostly because I was suuuper tired and ready for bed after traveling.) So I was just like

"okay well um bye."

Cut to the next day (Today as I'm writing this) and I get a text message from him. Some gif of an animals or something. I didn't respond (mostly because I was too jet-lagged this morning to respond to anything) and resolved to deal with it later.

Before I could get around to it this afternoon, he texts me a second time 4 or 5 hours after the first text. Saying

"Hello, How are you after your trip?!"

My initial reaction was lol, um okay, weird. But the more I think about it the more I dislike it. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he can't want to be my friend, or can't want to talk with me more, or whatever his motivation might be. If that was the case and he enjoyed my company and wanted to continue talking to me, or wanted to talk more so he could practice his English,Then he should have indicated that. For example, he could have said, Hey I enjoyed chatting with you, I would like to practice my English more would it be okay if I called you sometime. Or something along those lines.

But what he actually did was, take my phone number out of his cab company's database, that I had used to order the taxi and use it for his own personal use. I know this may seem like an over reaction on my part but, this feels like a slight abuse of power. I never gave him my number, I gave the cab company my number, I gave my cab permission to call me for cab things. I didn't give him my number to use for personal things.

So now, I am facing these thoughts.

Do I need to respond? I don't really want to talk to him. I don't really remember him. But, What if he gets mad if I don't respond? He knows where I live. That could be bad. What should I do?

Obviously the chances of this escalating to anything close to that are super rare and super unlikely. But still, that is super unprofessional. Right?

This isn't the first time this has happened either, I've had another cab driver text me the next day. But he just texted, "here is my number call me [personally not the cab company] the next time you need a cab"... Which still seems business related so that's slightly odd, but okay.

I've also had some men contact me on Facebook or Instagram and ask for my number because they want to call me and practice their English. Yet after telling them we can't give private lessons as PCVs (True) and I don't particularly like talking on the phone with people I'm not super super close with (also true), (basically trying to subtly and respectfully rebuff them) I always get some sort of weird response like. Are you mad at me? or I won't be creepy I promise, I just want to call you every now and then to talk.

I don't know if this is a cultural thing in Ukraine or something else but I have never experienced the kind of persistence and forwardness for trying to talk to me in America as I have here. I could never imagine a cab driver calling me to chat the next day or a man 20 years older than me who showed up at a training I held once insisting for my phone number so we can have weekly phone calls. Even when I was in America, my uber driver just happened to be from Ukraine (so random right!). We had a great conversation as he drove me home about his home country and when he dropped me off he asked for my Facebook so we could chat some more. I told him I don't really accept people I'm not close with on Facebook but have an Instagram which I use more publicly. He then said, he didn't have an Instagram but that he would download it so we could chat. He also said his parents have a place in Kyiv if I even need somewhere to stay. Which was super nice and hospitable. (He was really nice also, but downloading an app just to chat with one person you've known for 20 mins seems a bit extra, right?)

This leads me to think that maybe it is a cultural thing. That I find it weird because I am from a different culture where that would be weird and they are from a culture where perhaps it isn't. Who knows.

Well... those are my ramblings for the week. Tune in next time for something else probably just as rambley :)

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