The Adventures of Taxi-Man: Rusmat to the Rescue!

November 21, 2011

In my last post, I brought up a rather worrisome story that involved someone physically dragging me into a club. What I didn’t mention was that after my friends intervened and we walked out the door, the story continued.

My friends had all left to walk home and, living further away, I went to go ask a taxi driver what his fare was. Right as we agreed on a price, the not-so-nice character from earlier emerged from the club—accompanied by all his friends. They spotted me and immediately started shouting things that I won’t be repeating on an online forum, accompanying their rude remarks with ruder gestures. I grabbed the handle of the taxi’s back door and tried to pull it open. It was stuck. The driver, seeing the young men, quickly turned to unlock the door from the inside. I pulled a little more frantically. It was still stuck. Seeing that I wasn’t getting in the car, the group began to make their way over. At this point, the driver jumped out of the taxi with a screwdriver, did something to the faulty handle, and flung the door open and me inside.  In two seconds we were off, faster than lightning.

We were both a little frazzled, but I suppose that short, shared experience at least served to break the ice. After I said “thank you” for his quick and timely help, Taxi-Man and I began to chat. Unmasked, this little-known Yaroslavl hero was an elderly man named Rusmat. He was originally from Uzbekistan but came to Yaroslavl about 20 years ago to find work, bringing along his wife and children. We bonded further when he found out that I was also a foreigner, and he eagerly began asking me all sorts of questions about the United States. What part was I from? What was it like compared to Russia?

When we got to my apartment building, I reached inside my wallet to pay for the ride. All I had was a 500 ruble note—which was 350 rubles more than Rusmat’s requested price. As nice as he seemed, I couldn’t forget the story we’d been told at orientation about a taxi driver demanding extra payment for “saving” a student from some unfriendly company. That driver had demanded exactly 500 rubles. I had already counted my money gone when Rusmat asked “Do you have anything smaller? I don’t have change for a 500.” I meekly replied that I didn’t, and he responded, “There’s a grocery store right around the corner. Let me go get change.”

Rusmat drove us around the block to a 24-hour grocery store, ran in to get change, and speedily took me back to my apartment. Before I left Rusmat gave me his number. “Call any time if you ever need help or a taxi. I love talking about the US!”

Since that day, I pretty much always call Rusmat whenever I need a taxi home. Each time, we learn something new about each other’s homes and discuss everything from the eminent cold to issues like racism. Even though he typically only works at the club where we first met, Rusmat has picked me up from all over the city. He has loaded groups of my friends into the car and cheerfully asked them about America, dropping them off all over Yaroslavl and charging us far less than other taxis would.

You know, one saying that I hear repeated quite frequently here is «все хорошо, что хорошо кончается.»[1] I would say that night ended pretty хорошо,[2] wouldn’t you?

Until next time,


[1] “All’s well that ends well.” Gee, where did that come from?

[2] Well


4 Responses to “The Adventures of Taxi-Man: Rusmat to the Rescue!”

  1. Аня said

    Здорово, что тебе попался такой хороший человек!

  2. Salomon Babayaro said

    I must shake this man’s hand for keeping you safe. Of course, had I been there, it would have been a different story for those men. And you, of course 😉

  3. nateinsiberia said

    So awesome. Tell Rusmat he’s known for his valor all the way over here in Siberia.

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