What Is Trust Worth? Radka Rubilina, Kyrgyzstan 2013
From a certain point of view people can be divided into two groups:
Those who usually do not trust people and with any given opportunity they will try to prove the legitimacy of their point. And those who usually do trust people and with any given opportunity they will try to prove the legitimacy of their point.
How many times has somebody robbed you? How many times has somebody intentionally scratched your car? How many times has somebody not paid you back? Who, and when, has possibly tricked you? My story, though, is from the other side of the Moon - from Kyrgyzstan. Except for mountains and rams there is not much to this country. People are living accordingly: in poverty, miserably, in smoked hovels made out of mud-covered bricks. Scarfs, long skirts, bunch of children, donkeys, gold rings. Welcome to Central Asia.
At the airport, I have got a taxi. And because my work travel sometimes reminds a relay race, the very same driver would drive me two more times also the next day. “Tomorrow at eight thirty in front of the hotel, good night.” “Good night,” the door snapped behind me.
In the morning, we arrived to the airport and suddenly this occurred to me - how is it with me trusting other people, actually? One way = ten euro. Ten in the morning, ten in the evening. I took out a twenty-euro bill. “Here is twenty euro, I am pre-paying the evening ride as well,” I handed him the bill. Without a word, he put it in the front compartment.
In the evening, as scheduled, I landed and then walked out of the airport vestibule. I didn’t see him. Immediately, I was surrounded by a group of nagging taxi drivers. “For less, I will take you for less, where do you want to go?” they kept attacking me from all sides. But, I was looking for MY taxi driver. Nowhere to see him. I did not want to believe this. So one more time I walked through that airport glass entrance door and searched all over the vestibule. Then, I went out again. Nothing. I assumed a position in the middle of the road; it is impossible to overlook me now. Somebody grabbed my sleeve: “Radka Rudolfovna! I almost did not find you!” it was him and his hands were shaking, “come, we should go.”
I was about to leave Bishkek in two days, at four o’clock in the morning. The entire night before I have drunk beer over at a friends’ flat in some Bishkek’s high-rise located on the periphery. By midnight the taxi driver came to my mind. I called MY driver. “I would be there, of course.” However, there likely was some misunderstanding. He arrived already at one and was waiting for me until two thirty – until I packed and got out of a smoky kitchen, directly in to the cold air. “Good evening,” I greeted the tired driver. “Good evening,” he answered and then we were quiet again. After a half an hour, we were passing by the abovementioned smoked hovels. “Over there is my house,” the driver pointed toward a dark street. “Horrible,” I thought, but said nothing. “And do you have children?” “A son, nine months old.” “You don’t see him a lot being all the time in your taxi.” “What one can do.”
At the airport I took out a ten-euro bill and some change that left in my wallet. I was giving it to him. “A možet, segodňja my eto ostavim bez děneg?” he asked, that is – “Why don’t we leave it without the pay today?” At first, I turned toward him in disbelieve. He was looking at me and smiling shyly. He was actually serious about it. My eyes filled with tears.
“Děňgi bjeritě, poceluj synu,” – “Take the money and kiss your son for me,” I pressed the cash into his palm and got out of the car. Only after I entered the airport glass door I was able to take a deep breath… Winking back the tears. Try not trusting people after all…
Radka Rubilina, Kyrgyzstan, 2013