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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Newcomers taken for a ride!

New in Canada, we hopped into a cab to visit friends. The only problem was that we were in Mississauga, and our friends were in Scarborough.
But we were blissfully unaware of the distance or of the possibly high cab fare. It was a lovely day in late August and we were eager to learn as much about Toronto as we could as quickly as possible. So we looked out the window excitedly, pointing out landmarks.

“Lake Ontario is so vast!”

“Oh, look! The CN Tower!”

And we were happy to note the presence of South Asians.

“There are so many people who look like us!”

And then I happened to glance at the meter. It showed 30-plus dollars and was rapidly going up.

I nudged my husband.

He looked and then looked at me. What were we to do? We couldn’t possibly ask to be dropped off in the middle of the highway in a new city.

The tab rose as we consulted in whispers. When we stalled in traffic, it continued to rise. Now we were past $40.

My husband asked the driver how much longer and he said about 30 minutes.

My stomach lurched. That would be another $40, give or take.

The cabbie sensed our discomfort and asked if everything was okay.

“We hadn’t realized the ride was going to cost us an arm and a leg,” I said, attempting a laugh. It was a poor attempt.

He looked back at us in the mirror. “Didn’t you ask how much it was going to cost when you called for the cab?” he asked.

Then he had an idea.

“I can drop you off at Union Station, if you like. You could the subway from there.”

He was an Iranian, and back then we thought he was kind because we had told him we came to Canada from Dubai where he had also worked for a few years. But since then, I have taken many cabs – after checking the approximate cost! – and found the cabbies from all parts of the world unfailingly polite and helpful.
– SAMIRA SEHGAL

• What’s your story? Every newcomer, no matter how savvy or where he or she comes from, has a Fresh Off the Plane (FOP) story to share about their early days in Canada. Do you want to share your story? E-mail it to us at canadaboundimmigrant@ rogers.com.

Posted: Feb 29, 2012

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