– So what’s the plan? – First thing he said after stepping over Scottish floor was that. We were waiting for the luggage to arrive. The waiting room of the airport was indeed looking sad. The flight was pleasant, we even got sandwiches and a beer for free, but the plane was coming kind of empty. Anyway, there was still a chance of losing our luggage. But it arrived. Alone, actually. We quickly pick it up. Mine was a backpack, my friend was coming with a traditional big, wheeled luggage.
– I think first we need to find accommodation. – I said. – Then we can go for some beers downtown…I believe I can find a couple of places myself. – My friend looked at me, not very convinced. He joined this crazy plan because of what he heard, not thanks to our friendship. In fact, I could not really call him my friend. But when you are young, everybody who wants to join you for your adventure is your friend. And we both were looking forward for adventures outside our hometown. And, of course, money.
– I want to meet a red-haired. – We were already heading out of the airport. I knew the way out from the previous trip. He saw I was not following his train of thoughts, and decided to make a point. – I read that this is the best place for that. – I laughed, artificially. Ha ha. – The country with more red-haired per capita!- He laughed, in the same way. I didn’t accompany him. – Did you meet any on your previous trip?
– A lot. But none of them convinced me. – That was true.- There. A taxi.
The taxi driver looked at us with a weird face, like trying to classify what kind of tourists we were. We were no tourists. Also, we were no ignorants. Or that is what I thought. We accommodated our luggage on the back of the black english-styled vehicle. I went to the front, to sit close to the driver. My friend went to the back.
– Where? – was the short question of the driver. His accent was definitely local.
– To George square. – I said. I remembered that place as very close to everything. My second thought was Glasgow Central, but it was a little early to go to the Cathouse. And kind of impractical with all that luggage.
We drove, in silence. I was mechanically checking the way. In my hometown, taxi drivers use to cheat you. My friend, first time in Scotland, was probably just admiring the trip. The contrast with our hometown was very big, like the day and the night, or light and shadow. And we were in the shadow. In a short, we were where I wanted, and I told the taxi driver to stop. He sang the price of the ride, and I handed him three brand-new 5 pound bank notes.
– What’s this? – He said.
– Money. – I answered. He smiled to me. – Pounds. I thought that was your currency. Am I wrong? – The taxi driver, showing signs of infinite patience and trust, took my banknotes and handed me another 5 pound bank note from his box. I took it, hesitantly.
– Can you read what’s written here? – He said. But not in a hostile way, kind of enjoying it. I had a look. – It says “Bank of Scotland, 5 pounds”. – I confirmed the observation. Then I realized what was his complain about. – What do you read on your banknotes? – I knew, but I read it aloud.
– Bank of England, 5 pounds.
– You see? So they are not the same. – I decided to play hard. On my previous trip I did realized the difference on the naming. However, moving with foreigners all the time does not make you aware of these things.
– But both banknotes are legal, aren’t them?
– Yes – my taxi driver said – but this doesn’t mean we like them. It reminds us that we pay more taxes than the English people, only because we’re not English. – He got the point. – OK boys, since we are much friendly than the English, I will accept your pounds. – His smile was broad and shiny. He probably was feeling he scored one more against England. But he was not yet over. – A free advice for you, my youngs: get rid of that dirty English money as soon as you can: use it on machines, give it as a tip, make paper planes, keep it as a souvenir, whatever. But to deal with our people, please take a bunch of good Scottish money, as soon as you get close to an ATM. – He made a dramatic pause, while helping us to take back our luggage. – And welcome to Glasgow.