Well, it seems I've already committed a huge faux-pas. When I took a cab Wednesday night from the airport and sat, rather unthinkingly and quite naturally, in the back, that was a sign of utter snobbery. The custom in Australia is to sit in front with the driver. Well, gee thanks Frommers for warning me! I hope the American accent (and the beard and brown skin) suggested I was a foreigner ... Oh well.
Today, we took a cab to dinner. Mac got in the front, and I sat at the back. A few minutes into the ride, the cabbie said something about "a couple of septic tanks" being spotted downtown. Which is, it seems, cabbie slang for American sailors! "You know how those Yanks are you know!" To which Mac couldn't resist throwing in, "Well, you've got one seated in the back!" I guffawed. Darn, I just got called a ... Yankee? :-) I then brought up the whole thing about taxi-cab seating convention. The cabbie agreed. "If someone gets in the back it either means that he's a snob or a poofter. Unless the poofter likes the cabbie, in which case he'll get in the front and you know, place those little bags that they all carry next to them." Do what? Damned if you do, damned if you don't, eh! "Well, really, it's Australian egalitarianism." Ah, I see. "But, it's understandable if women get in the back seat, if they don't like the cabbie." Ok. "And, if the driver is Taliban, he might get all offended if the woman sits up front. You know how those people think women are third class citizens and might think they're hitting on him." Well, I'm glad I don't automatically get classified as "Taliban" with the beard. Or maybe, he didn't really get a good look at me Or perhaps he thought I was Hispanic (that really doesn't happen anymore with the beard, like it used to when I had short-cropped hair and was clean shaven. At least in Miami it did. I always got addressed in Spanish!) because as we pulled up, he said, "Aquí" and "perfecto."
Poor chap. He really was most un-PC, wasn't he! Luckily (for him), one doesn't tip down here. Though, I might have thrown in a couple of bucks just 'cause it was such a darn hoot!