My experience with taxi drivers in Israel

One of the reasons for this blog was to document things I’ve seen and experienced when I lived in the Holy Land, some of these are things inspired by Jesus’s life and ministry, places and experiences I have had and some things that are just funny or a bit oddball.

In this case, taxi drivers in Israel are often a topic if I meet up with friends who have been out there, often folks driving locals or tourists have some interesting background.  Many taxi drivers try to take advantage of foreigners telling them ‘the meter is broken, I’ll give you a special price’ (both Jewish and Arab drivers have attempted this on me and folks I know)

The Russian techno driver

Often taxi drivers have music or radio with news on of all different types.   In this case, this driver has music with a 1980s techno beat with lyrics in Russian.   It would put off most kinds of passengers but it was so weird it was entertaining for the 15 minute journey.

The grubby driver

This was a ride from one office I was at in Jerusalem to another.   The car was filthy.  There was a layer of grime along the dashboard.   Jerusalem gets covered in dust as this is the nature of this part of the world, but this car had not been cleaned in years and it seemed like some other residue, maybe carrying cargo with badly refilled printer toner cartridges or charcoal or something.

The frenetic driver

I needed to meet a friend outside of Hotel GilGal which is a hotel run by Israeli Messianic evangelist Jacob Damkani in Tel Aviv, I ordered a cab and got a driver who picked me up and went a bit crazy.  Initially, he drove too close behind to a cyclist who mumbled some words of displeasure in Hebrew which then the driver leaned on the horn and exchange more phrases.   He then overtook about 3 cars at once (which often happens) and made a phone call (everyone seems to use phones whilst driving)  and when dropping me off, exclaiming “Baruch HaShem!”  (praise be the name of Lord)

The don’t care smoker

This car has no smoking stickers on it like most.   However, the driver seems to think if your cigarette in your left hand is outside the window it doesn’t count.   Even though the smoke drifts back into the car to the punter in the front seat.  Hmm.

The lots-of-dashboard-symbols taxi

Ok, I drive a Peugeot, a car that has rather over-complex electrical design.  My car always has an error on the dash which the dealer couldn’t fix and so I have ignored for the last 3 years I have had it.  My VW owning friends laugh and show their contempt of French automobiles, until the VW dieselgate scandal happened.  Oh dear.

But anyway this Mercedes I was travelling in had at least 4 messages on the dashboard come up.   “Main dealer service due”, “SRS warning”, “left licence plate bulb failed”  and “furry dice need new elastic”  ok – maybe I made the last one up.

I need doughnuts taxi

There is a lot of cake and pastry shops in Israel.    My driver wanted to stop and get a danish pastry or some kind and coffee.   I was happy to wait. 🙂

The poor condition taxi

The taxis are not normally old, and usually, a Skoda or Mercedes sedan and are no more than 6 years old.    Some are in better shape than others and some have a lot of dents and accident damage.   In one case, the rubber centre part of the steering wheel that holds the airbag had a hole in it.   Drivers of all types do use the horn a lot here, this guy seemed to have worn his out.

The complainer driver

This driver is more like a conventional London cabbie.   Here in the UK, drivers have a lonely job so feel a need to discuss current affairs with the passenger, in Israel it’s sometimes similar.  In this case, my driver was telling me he was fed up of the ultra-Orthodox doing more protests in the street as they often tend to not work or join the army and claim benefits when many people who working long hours to pay bills.

The blatant tax avoider taxi

I once needed to get to a computer conference from Tel Aviv bus station to the Hilton Hotel.  Getting in one car, I asked the driver to put the meter on.   He offered me a ‘special price’ of 85 Shekels and told me he didn’t want to put the meter on as he has to pay the government 35% of the fare.  After a brief argument, I told him he should look at a different sort of job and I’ll ride with someone else.   My other driver who was honest had the meter on and charged me about 37.

The local believer (my favourite)

After chatting for 5 minutes, this driver is a local Israeli Messianic believer, originally from Russia.  He asks me why I am here and I tell him I am a computer technician maintaining systems to provide food and supplies to the poor and needy, he tells me his particular Messianic congregation has had some people helped who were struggling with meeting bills by overseas Christian groups, so food supplies have been a real blessing to them.


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