Honest Cabbies

A few years ago, I was in Fes, Morroco. My wife and I had about 30 minutes to go before catching a train to Marrakech (via Casablanca) to catch a flight back to Casablanca, to get a flight to London, so my wife could start a trial on the Monday. The train from Fes was the last one we could have got to make those connections.

We hailed a taxi. Because we were a few minutes early, I stopped to get some food, which took longer to prepare than I’d thought. We quickly sped to the train station, and loaded all our baggage on to the train. We sat down. I unwrapped the kebab. I asked my wife to pass me something from my bag: the one with our passports, money, and plane tickets in. She claimed I was holding it. I had been. But I’d put it down. On the back shelf the taxi.

The train started slowly to move. We had a moment to decide: stay in the train and blag out way onto two planes, with no passport, money, or tickets. Or get off, look for the tickets, and find a way to get to Marrakech later. We took the latter option.

The station master was very kind. He called his wife and got her to come down to comfort mine. He escorted me to the police hut, and generally assisted in rallying taxi drivers round, in the hope that he had a mobile phone and somebody knew it. Miraculously, my wife had remembered the number of his cab. I called the travel insurance people, and asked the hotel to help. Neither could.

After about two hours, my wife called to say that the taxi driver had arrived. I rushed back. Having found the bag, and realised its importance, he had returned to the station and drove around looking for us, on the offchance we were still there. My wife was overwhelmed. She tried to give him the $100 we had for emergencies. He wouldn’t take it, stating firmly that he wanted us to return to England with a positive view of Fassi cab drivers as honest people, and that he had refused the money because he didn’t want her to think that he had been hoping for a reward.

Later, we drove through the desert to Sidi Kasem, where we waited for the train to arrive for a 4 hours, until the early morning, in the station bar and in the delightful company of the station master who was also the deputy mayor of the town, and a young cafe attendant, who was a law student. We spoke about Hackney town hall corruption. It was a rather one sided conversation, largely because I couldn’t remember the French for “electoral fraud”.

What is the French for “electoral fraud”. It cannot be unknown in France, surely?

I mention all this because of this lovely story about a Bangladeshi cabbie in New York.