Day 64: Why Not Rather Suffer Wrong?
The timing of this strange question could not have been more perfect. Since we arrived in Playa almost two months ago, we have been cheated over and over again. I know that seems a bit harsh, and I don’t mean it to be. I love Playa del Carmen and I especially love its residents! Hopefully you already know this through my other posts.
Many of the taxi drivers (taxistas), however, have not garnered the same affection in our hearts. To them, we are ‘turistas’, naive, ignorant, Gringos! Apparently, we also have plenty of money, which makes it all right for them to pad their pockets. I’ve had several honest taxistas admit this to me during our heart to heart conversations!
This has been a struggle for us since day one. We knew to expect it, but we also thought that after a while, taxistas would acknowledge that we do, indeed, now live here and start charging us fair prices.
That has not been the case. Most of the time, they attempt to charge us at least double, if not more, despite the fact that we tell them we are now living here and know what the prices should be. For example, to go from one zone to the next, it may cost only $20 to $25 pesos. What are we charged? $50 pesos. And when you have six people in your family, which translates into two taxis, it can really add up. On many occasions, we’ve had to walk away from available taxis because we were not willing to pay the additional.
We finally got our hands on a map with zones and pricing, which we immediately placed into our phones. Oh, the benefits of having a camera on our phones! We also discovered that sometimes, (contrary to popular belief) it is best to not ask the price but just get in, and then give them the appropriate amount when leaving. The first time we nervously attempted to do this, we felt triumphant, as the taxista didn’t even blink an eye! Oh, the power…the joy. The second time it worked, we were elated. Finally, we thought, after over six weeks, we’ve cracked the code of living like a local.
The elation didn’t last long. Our triumph was overshadowed late one night, as we returned from Tulum. We arrived back into Playa on the Colectivo and now needed a taxi (well, two) for the last leg of our journey home. We’d already had to say “No” to a few drivers, who were substantially inflating the price. Finally, we got two smaller taxis and headed home. When we arrived at our gates, we thanked our drivers, handed them the correct amounts, and got ready to leave.
That is when our perception of victory crashed and burned. One taxi driver quickly came over to the other and they both had a quick talk, then turned to us, asking for double the correct pricing. Now remember, it is very late, almost midnight, and we had four extremely tired children with us. I think we were both at the end of our rope and refused to be cheated one more time. Out came my phone with the map and prices we had downloaded. The prices were clearly marked.
“No, no…that’s for during the day, and it’s very late right now,” said one, while the other tried to convince us it was because our particular condo was just outside of the less expensive zone.
We asked them to show us their pricing, and the first driver pulled out his map. I’m not sure if he truly didn’t realize the right price or if he thought we didn’t understand, but sure enough, his map not only had the prices, it showed our exact location as $25 pesos! I tried to take a photo of it with my cell phone, but he pulled it away, saying, “Privado.” It’s private. “It’s an old map.” Really?
At this point, we were getting really frustrated and decided to let the policia arbitrate. We sent the kids off to bed and patiently waited outside for the policemen. By the time two officers arrived, we were exhausted. We were also somewhat anxious about the consequences of getting the police involved, only because we’ve heard numerous stories of how corrupt many policemen in Playa can be.
The younger policeman was pleasant and seemed to understand, but the older one was rather rough and hard-hearted. It was apparent he was not receptive to hearing the truth. The evidence was very clear and spelled out in both my information as well as the taxi driver’s map, however, that was irrelevant. Ultimately, he threatened to bring us all in to the police station in order to mediate a solution. At this point, it was almost 1 am and we were not willing to go that far for justice, so we just made the decision to pay. But…not without touching the taxi driver’s arm, looking him in the eyes, and telling him that what he was doing was wrong, was not fair, and he just shouldn’t be doing it.
We left it at that. As we headed through the gate, I turned around and once again looked at the taxi drivers. Our eyes met and as I sadly shook my head, I was encouraged to see that the drivers did not exhibit any pride or smugness at their win. What I think I saw instead was a bit of regret. Of course, I could be wrong, but it was encouraging nonetheless.
This incident, however, plagued me that night and the whole next day. There is something very disconcerting about being in a foreign country, having somebody knowingly cheat you, and then not getting justice from the entity that is supposed to protect and guard people and the rules. Even knowing how frequently these kinds of things happen in Playa, it was still difficult. Nobody likes to be defrauded.
And yet, if you believe that God is sovereign over all things, even situations like this one, well then, it puts everything in a different light. For hours, I reflected on what had happened and what my correct response should have been. I still, quite honestly, don’t know. My heart was very unsettled at the time and, I must admit, angry as well. And so I prayed. Friday night and all through Saturday, I continued to pray, asking God to show us how to deal with this ongoing situation. After all, it had nothing to do with the money. There was a much bigger picture here, but I had yet to understand it.
As always, God is faithful, and He answered my prayers with His perfect timing and in His perfect way. While away from our church, we have continued to listen to our pastor’s sermons online on Sunday mornings. I’m sure by now you can guess the title to his sermon: “Why not rather suffer wrong?” Here’s a little clip:
“Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? Cheated? Do you really lose anything of true value? It’s all going to burn in the end. Or somewhere in the depths of your heart do you doubt that it’s all going to burn in the end? Or has the Spirit of God not penetrated more deeply in your hearts to let you see the difference between people created in the image of God and things that they use. It’s a very helpful summary. Our calling is to love people and use things and the inclination of our flesh is so much just the opposite, to love things and use people. Why not rather suffer wrong?”
While I could attempt to explain how God used this sermon and the passage from I Corinthians 6:1-8 to penetrate my head and my heart, I know I could never do it justice. Even now, I’m sure there are many layers to this passage I have yet to uncover and truly understand. What I did take away, however, was that I do not need to cling so fiercely to my own rights at the risk of destroying an opportunity to allow God’s glory to shine. And yet again, I was also reminded to continue trusting God in all things.
If you’re interested in hearing this sermon, feel free to visit: http://www.gracechurchofdupage.com under Resources and Online Sermons, July 20, 2014 by Daryle Worley. Thank you, Lord, for your gracious kindness and for your Word that is sufficient for all our needs.