Flirting with Danger – Our Love Affair with the Motorcycle Taxi

We have given up on the blue taxis for the most part (the “taxis that say no” in the words of my children), because so many of them take one look, either at the color of my skin or the number of my children, and just drive right by. I can end up standing on the corner for 45 minutes while 20 taxis pass me by, feeling so foolish. The tactic of hiding the children while hailing a taxi can backfire and make me feel even worse, when the taxi driver says yes to the location, then sees the kids and tells me no. I’d rather not even try. So I’ve taken to using the modi (摩的), or motorcycle taxi, which is not the safest way to get around China, so I’ve heard, but they have the benefit of not having white-covered seats, and always welcome my family with open arms. They are a bit more expensive than regular taxis, and you have to negotiate on the price before you get started, but they don’t have to obey traffic laws, so they can get you to your destination much faster, despite just being an electric bike pulling a cab. It’s a little bumpy and sometimes a little terrifying, especially when you have to use your feet to keep the kids from falling out the open sides, but I don’t feel any anxiety when taking a journey with them, because I know I won’t be rejected by them, and another perk is that my children sit so well and so quietly in a modi, but in a taxi, they are climbing all over each other, trying to hang out the window and fighting, all while I’m am desperately trying to keep their feet off the seats so the driver won’t yell at me when we get out.

Riding in a modi. They usually sit in the opposite seat, which is deeper and more comfortable, and I can put my feet up in both doorways as a primitive seatbelt.

We had an actual taxi ride home from Metro the other day (no modi in site, and the bus seemed daunting with bags that were heavier than I could carry), and I talked to the guy about it, and he, who had been so welcoming of my children from the start, said, Oh no, many people would love to take you. Having your children in my car makes me so happy. Those people who tell you know are bad people with small hearts (maybe cowards or just bad people). He was awfully kind, as are most of the taxi drivers who actually take us, but I hate rejection so much that I’d rather not even try.

Quite possibly the nicest modi driver in China, who bought the children ice cream right after I took this picture. He drove us around Wu Da Dao when we first came to China, and we promised him we’d call him up when my sister arrived. What a wonderful man.

My children, who are PATHETIC when it comes to walking anywhere (but will run races around me the moment I stand still), start limping and moaning when we are not five steps out of our apartment building saying, “We need a taxi, Mommy.”

We are just too cool for taxis.

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