Just another day in the life of a Mediterranean cabbie.
Last weekend, while I (ie my husband) was first at the Agious Apostolous taxi rank, I picked up a fare at Hrisi Akti, just a few metres away from the stand. Dusk was beginning to fall and there weren't many people at the beach. On seeing the taxi, the woman waved out to me. She sat in the back of the cab. I asked her where she was going to. She looked a little lost. She was tall and well groomed, Her clothing choices made her stand out as very well dressed.
"Well, I don't really know where I am," she said, "but I walked out here from the lighthouse, where I'm staying, at a hotel close by there."
"You walked out all the way from there?" I was very surprised to hear this. She said she wanted to get a bit of fresh air, and had lost track of the time. She would have walked along the coast, which is quite empty now that the tourist season is over.
I asked her for the hotel name, which she seemed to remember. She was from (another Greek town) and she was staying in a high-end hotel in Hania for a week, on business. She said she liked the town very much, telling me about the how the Venetian port had made an impression on her. She was in a chatty mood, laughing a lot as she talked in a carefree sort of way. We talked so much about the town in that short ride to the hotel, that I didn't have any time to ask her about her line of business. When we arrived at the hotel, I gave her my business card, should she need another ride. That's how I picked up another fare from her, when she phoned me yesterday, to take her to the airport.
When I arrived at the hotel, she was waiting at the lobby with her suitcases. She seemed to have a lot of luggage. I helped her with the cases and she sat in the front passenger seat. She was immaculately dressed, perfectly coiffed, and well made up. She had a decolletage you could dive into (husband's choice of words) and get lost in (again, not my wording).
"So how did business go?" I asked her. She said Hania was good for trade, but not as good as Iraklio, where she was based last week. "My phone rang every half an hour here," she said, "but in Iraklio it rang every ten minutes. I made enough money to cover my expenses. Hania is more beautiful than Iraklio, but it doesn't bring in profits."
"It's a bigger town," I reminded her. And then I realised that I had not asked her what line of business she is in. "So what do you trade in?"
"I trade in myself!" she exclaimed, with a ring of laughter in her voice, as she swept her hand in the air from head to toe. I suppose I could have guessed, but I don't see why I should have guessed. No one can really guess what anyone is doing these days because we are all doing so much. Our appearance as Greeks is very global, so the traditional way of regarding people by their appearance is pretty much gone.
She explained that she conducts all her business online these days, and she is well connected with other people in the same trade. So through the internet, people will know where she is available and when. This is how the locals who needed her services would know where she was coming to Crete. She also said she never flies Ryanair because of their baggage restrictions, preferring Aegean Airlines. "I need to carry my makeup bag, laptop, day bag and travel documents. Ryanair would leave me in the cold if I tried to get all that through." I noticed how well dressed she was: everything she wore was a brand label, including her accessories.
Our arrival at the airport signaled the end of a very interesting conversation, like many I have with strangers who introduce me to details of their life that are often very different from my own. I wished her a safe journey and expressed my hope that I will see her again. "Don't worry," she said, "I have your card." She didn't have a card, but she gave me details of her escort agency, including the website which listed all her services. She was a real professional.
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