San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

My Fare Lady: The Story of a Woman Taxista

IN the traditionally male domain of taxi driving, the presence of a woman might be considered a novelty by some, an object of derision by others. But as far as one taxista is concerned, women drivers can offer serious competition to their male counterparts – and are here to stay.Escazú native Karla Trullas, 33, has been a taxi driver for more than two years. A single mother, Trullas decided to become a taxi driver so she could work while still dedicating time to her two daughters.“I wanted to make sure I was there for them,” she says.Despite negative comments from her friends and family, Trullas knew she was more than capable of being a good taxi driver.“My friends thought I was crazy,” she laughs. “But I knew I could do it.”TRULLAS’ brother helped her get an interview with his employer, Taxis Anca, in the western suburb of Escazú.“I think the fact that the owner was a woman helped,” she says with a smile.Trullas works Monday to Friday, 6 a.m.-7 p.m., leaving her evenings and weekends free to spend with her children. She says she has come to enjoy her job, and likes meeting people.However, it wasn’t always easy.“It was difficult at first,” Trullas admits. “Women taxi drivers have to work twice as hard as men just to be accepted – make a mistake and it’s twice as bad.”She recalls her first day at work. A disgruntled colleague gave her a fake address for a pickup. While Trullas was driving around trying to find the nonexistent address, her colleague went and made the real pickup himself.“When I realized what had happened, I felt angry with myself for being so trusting,” she says.TRULLAS says she thinks most people here prefer male taxi drivers.“A lot of customers make a fuss when they realize it’s a woman who’s going to be doing the driving,” she says. “But they soon realize they are in good hands.”In many instances, she says, women are as good if not better than men.“Women understand more about good customer service,”she says, adding that she has a list of about 10 regularcustomers.Trullas acknowledges that she must take certain precautions,such as opting for the day shift and only doingcall-outs.“I don’t pick up customers who hail me down in thestreet,” she explains. “I made the mistake of picking upsomeone in the street a year ago. He turned out to be veryabusive, and it scared me.”IT takes Trullas five minutes to change a flat tire. Hermale colleagues ask her for tools and parts, which shealways carries in her car.“One thing I’ve learned is that women are much moreorganized,” she says. “I take better care of my car and ammuch better prepared.”With taxi driving offering flexible hours and the opportunityto earn a decent wage, Trullas says getting behind thewheel and switching on the meter was the perfect answerfor her. She believes any woman can be a taxi driver.“We are capable, and we have the right,” she says.The question needs to be asked: Who does Trullas thinkis the better driver, a man or a woman?“A woman, of course,” she answers. “At least we don’tbehave like we own the road.”

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