Driving Away Any Tips

, , , , | Working | January 20, 2019

(My girlfriend and I just arrived in Philadelphia. First order of business: getting to our hotel. We head to the first cab in the line, and at first the driver seems all right; he pops the trunk, loads our bags, and asks where we’re heading. That’s about where the professionalism ends. As soon as he sits down, he starts the cab, turns on the meter, and breaks out his phone. The cab sits idle, burning fuel, while he waits for whoever he called to pick up. I consider getting out of the cab and demanding he pop his trunk, but I don’t trust him to notice I’ve even stepped out. Once his friends finally answers, we’re racing off. And I do mean “racing.” This cab has a GPS that notifies drivers if they are speeding, and the only time it stops chirping is when we approach a red light. If we pass stop signs, he most certainly doesn’t care. And at no point does he get off the phone. Thankfully, the cab has seat belts, so we have some peace of mind. As we approach the street our hotel is on, he shifts into the left-most lane and suddenly stops the cab. There are no cars in front of us, and while there is a streetlight, we’re a good two car-lengths shy of it.)

Driver: “Here you are. Fare’s [price].”

Girlfriend: “Where’s our hotel?”

Driver: *points to the building we’re stopped in front of* “It’s right here. This is the restaurant entrance. It’s all connected. The front entrance is further down, and there’s no place to make a U-turn around here.”

(I am tempted to ask why he didn’t take a left turn at the previous intersection — which I later confirmed would have wrapped around the block and easily brought us to the front entrance within about 20 seconds — but following this ride, I am more than happy to get out. I slide out to get the bags, and notice he’s not budging like every other cab driver I’ve ever had would — including himself if we count when we first entered.)

Me: “Would you mind helping with our bags?”

Driver: *shakes his head* “I can’t get out of the cab while it’s on the street.”

(During a more malicious phase in my life, I’d have been tempted to take our bags and run for it just to see how true that was. Instead, after unloading our bags, I do the rational thing.)

Me: “You said it was [Price], right?”

Driver: “Yeah.”

(I don’t remember the exact price, but I remember it required 50 cents exactly. I remember this, because I couldn’t believe my luck. I don’t normally leave my apartment carrying coins unless I’m certain I’ll need them, but on this day I got a soda from a vending machine while waiting for my girlfriend to use the restroom, and I got three quarters in change. Thanks to that soda, I had the means to pay him the exact fare while making it perfectly clear I was deliberately not tipping. And I still learned he could leave the cab while it was on the street, even with the keys still in the ignition, the engine running, and the door wide open. Although, while I was checking us into the hotel, the company informed my girlfriend that was, in fact, something he shouldn’t have done, even if he was displeased with his tip.)

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