Recently after a night out I accomplished something that I had unsuccessfully attempted on more than one occasion. I phoned a taxi and it came.
During previous efforts I always had to hang up halfway through the conversation with the Chinese telephone operator. Communication issues. I would usually be able to tell them in Chinese what my location was, however I could never understand what came next.
So what happens is this; you ring the Suzhou taxi number and you tell the operator where you are. In my case that means repeating it a few times and hoping at some point it will land. That evening it did.
Next they put you through to a taxi driver who is in the vicinity and then you have to explain again where you are and try to understand what the driver says, except now there is more noise on the line, as he or she is driving and almost always with the windows open. But you will have already practiced with the operator a few times by then so confidence does increase. On this particular occasion I was lucky as we were waiting in front of a Starbucks (which is called something else in Chinese by the way so it does involve some skill) so I could casually throw this into the conversation.
After the driver indicates he’s coming for you, the kind operator sends a text message with the drivers’ number plate. In my case the text message was the indicator that surely the taxi must be coming then.
Surprise! After only a short wait he pulled up and we got in. It could not have been any easier so I don’t know why it took me so long to tick this one off my list. It was very satisfying to finally manage it nonetheless and I believe the smile stayed plastered on my face at least until we got home.
Unfortunately being able to phone for a taxi does not mean one is always available, as I discovered this week trying to get home from the other side of town at 5pm on a weekday… I did consider getting on the bus… (who am I kidding, I didn’t really) but in the end the taxi came. If only they had more bike lanes and some fresh air…