Unpleasant surprises usually happen when you don't think they're going to happen.
Almost a year ago, the Egyptian government introduced a new plan to get the antiquated black and white taxis off the streets and replace them with new, white, metered taxis.
The reason this was a God-send for everyone living in Cairo - and especially expats - is that the older taxis do not have meters and rely on the passenger either knowing the fare, being ripped off, or a huge fight ensuing over whether the fare is fair.
So, new taxis introduced (see link above), fares set, everyone happy.
But not quite.
Ingeniously, the drivers of these new air-conditioned cars found a way to rig the meters to charge more than they're supposed to.
Which leads me to my story.
The other morning I hailed a white cab (as the new cabs are known) from my normal place on 26th of July in Zamalek near my apartment. One of my good friends had recently written an article for a popular Egyptian magazine on the subject of cab fares and whether the government was doing anything to prevent drivers from fixing their meters, and I thought to myself - man, something must be going on because I haven't gotten in a rigged white cab in a long time.
Famous last words.
My normally 5.6-6 pound cab ride skyrocketed to 12 LE - noting that the cab fare jumped from 7 to 12 LE just a few buildings away from where I work.
I employed my normal tactic in these situations of just giving the driver the right fare and walking away.
When I handed the guy 6 LE he smiled and pointed to his meter, which indicated 12 LE. I smiled back and told him his meter was broken and if he'd like to go talk to the security in front of the building to settle the issue that would be fine (this all said in Arabic).
He quickly took the money and drove away.
Lesson: know thy fare before thee ride.