Saturday, March 7, 2009

Our Man in Havana

Kostia is one of hundreds of free-lance taxi drivers in Kyiv. He sticks a little yellow sign on top of his car and he is a taxi*, picks up fares, negotiates a price and off they go. We met him in January 2006 when he picked us up at the airport and took us to a hotel for the night. As usual with Tanya after a 30 minute cab ride she knows all about the driver, his family, his problems, his ambitions and his political views. We got his mobile number so he could take us to the train station the next morning.

He has become our regular driver and "fixer" in Kyiv ever since. He meets people at airports or trains for us, finds us apartments to rent, and looks after us whatever our transportation needs. When Lyn came to vist a year ago, I had my pocket picked on the Metro. Kostia bought replacement train tickets, paid the rent on the flat and got his money back as soon as Lyn arrived and I could hit her up for it. (What are childen for if not to rescue idiot parents?).

Yesterday (Friday) I went to Kyiv for a meeting about some work. Wednesday, when the meeting was called, we drove to P'yatikhatki and bought my ticket TO Kyiv but there was NO return tickets on any trains. Friday nights are bad as all students are going home after classes. Tanya called Kostia.

Kostia knew people who have automatic reserved seats and could be persuaded to part with a ticket. Don't ask. We had to pay him double 'cause he was the man in charge but it was still cheaper than an overnight. No matter how much I tip Kostia, I am certain he never makes wages for the time and effort he puts in.

He is a good person. It kind of redeems my faith in humanity to find such, once in a while. Maybe they are not so rare but sometimes it seems so.

* "Call me a taxi". "OK, you're a taxi".

1 comment:

  1. Ah, yes; the universal truth. The world is made a better place by fixers. From politicians, to taxi drivers, to veterinarians.

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