Your Relationship With the Local Taxi Driver
One of the constants for a Peace Corps Volunteer in Azerbaijan is that they all know the taxi drivers around town. They might even know them better than their neighbors. Here in Lənkəran, I’ve lived on almost all sides of the city, and when you see these guys and their Ladas each day, you get used to saying ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ to most of them. I don’t really have a budget to take taxis all the time, so it’s not like I’m always using their services. This is something that I never really thought about before coming to Azerbaijan. There aren’t any taxi drivers that I know in the US. You’re friendly with your taxi driver when they are shuttling you off to your destination, but that’s as far as it goes. Here, there are just always taxis waiting around, with their drivers milling about in the vicinity. And it seems like everyone has their designated zones.
The guys across the street from me, who have the invaluable location right outside the hospital as their taxi stand, are probably used to seeing me each day. I always say hello and they’re fairly friendly. When I finish my run in the morning, I sometimes even get a small cheering section bringing me in to the finish. We don’t really know each other, but there is a familiarity here that breeds a strange variety of openness. I feel pretty confident that I could trust all of these taxi drivers to give me the right fare and get me safely to where I need to go. This is a concept of ‘community’ that I don’t really consider very often; yet, as shallow and informal as it is, these people are certainly a type of community I have created for myself in the short time I’ve been here.