I'm Still An American on the Inside

As I’ve mentioned before, I use taxis a lot here in Cancun. They’re easy to find, they’re cheap ($20 pesos to get almost anywhere you want in downtown Cancun), they’re fast and I even get serenaded by taxi drivers on occasion.

They do, however, have a habit that causes my inner American to scream, “Oh no he didn’t!!”

Not having change.

I totally understand if they don’t have change for larger bills. If I have anything worth $200 pesos or more, I will always ask if they have change for it before I get into the vehicle. However, what really bothers me is when they don’t have change for my $50 pesos or $100 pesos, and don’t bother to tell me until we reach our final destination.

Some will ask you from the beginning, “Do you have exact change?”, which I think is great. Usually I have it, and if I don’t, we’ll stop by a gas station along the way (gas pumpers always have change).

But what I CAN’T STAND is when we get to our destination, I hand them a $50 peso bill, and they say to me “Sorry, I don’t have any change. I just started my shift.”


My American mind reels, screaming in my head that people providing services should always begin their shift with change, to make life easier for everyone and to earn money faster. I could certainly forgive someone who started their shift with change, then ran out as the day went on. Completely understandable. But not having change to begin with would seem to be just plain rude.

Still, I have to bite my tongue and remember that I’m a visitor in their country. The local culture has a tendency not to plan ahead, which works just fine for them because they have been blessed with the virtue of patience… something seriously lacking in American culture.

So when a taxi driver says to me, “Sorry, I have no change. I just started my shift”, all I can do is sigh, let go of my inner American, get in touch with my inner Mexican, and answer, “Ok, no problem… let’s go to a gas station for some change.”