My Budapest Taxi Experineces
We were traveling from Buda to our home in Pest on one occasion. We crossed the Elizabeth bridge and the car was rear ended. The driver pulled to the side and before doing anything else called for another cab for us. Within minutes the new cab arrived and i paid the meter on the first cab. Then off we went. When we got home i looked at the meter and paid the gentleman the exact fee ... i confess ... i was a bit bothered by the inconvenience. The drive handed me back 450 ft. Why I asked? He said the start fee was 450 ft and it wasn't right for me to have to pay that on the first cab and now on his meter too. Stunned I doubled it and gave it back as a tip.
On another occasion i had decided to do some shopping in Buda and thought when the time got close to a dentist appointment i had, i would just call City Taxi to come pick me up and take me to the dentist. When the time came i made the phone call, but couldn't for the life of me begin to pronounce the street name i was standing on. After a few failed attempts i told the dispatcher that i would find someone to translate and call back. He insisted that i not give up and within a few minutes we had it figured out and the taxi came.
On yet another occasion; again involving my dentist, i called for a taxi at the dentist office and told him where our home was. He had a creative way of getting back to my home. After about 10 minutes he pulled to the curb and pointed at a building. Oh G-d, he had misunderstood my lousy Hungarian pronunciation and taken me to a street with a similar name as mine. So I repeated the right street name, this time he got it. Before i could say a word he cleared the meter and started it over. He didn't have to do that. Bad Hungarian is my problem, not his.
Then last year I had to call a taxi from a hospital in Buda (inner ear issues).... No, lets back up, cause this is good. I went to an Audiologist in Pest to get fitted for hearing aids. They performed a lot of tests and told me the pressure in one ear was too high and they didn't want to fit a hearing aid that might not work properly when the ear had stabilized. I thanked and asked the charge. No charge. They couldn't help me so the tests and exam were free (try and find that in the US). Then the doctor informed me that there was a taxi on the way to take me to a hospital in Buda where a doctor was waiting to examine my ear. Really? They called around for me and found someone who could see me? Wow! The doctor had a ski trip to Switzerland planned but had waited to see me before leaving town. She determined some cause and gave me some drops (that worked). Cost? No charge. She was off the clock anyway and the drops were samples....
Okay, now, I had to call a taxi from a hospital in Buda .... Once again I couldn't pronounce anything. So i walked to the guard at the hospital gate and asked him to talk to the dispatcher. Problem was the guard didn't speak English either. So i found a grounds man who translated to the guard who translated to the dispatcher. A hoot. Wouldn't trade a moment of any of it.
Finally, every trip back to the states starts with a 4am taxi. I call the night before and that taxi is always there waiting for me about 15 minutes early.