In The Biz, We Call This The A**hole Tax

, , , | Right | December 4, 2020

This happens in 1994 or 1995 or so. My adopted family owns a locksmith company, and of course, they trained me into the family business. It is an old-school family business; my old man is the gruff but honest type and really cares about the work we do. We are paid by commission, so it is absolutely worth it to me to work hard and take all the calls I can.

We also have an emergency line at home that we answer twenty-four-seven. That is part of our thing. You never get an answering service; it is always one of the family.

If you’re good at it, locksmithing is one of those skills that looks really easy, and some of the work goes fast if you know exactly how to do it. When you pay a locksmith, you’re not just paying for the time they’re working; you’re paying for them knowing what to do. Like the old joke, fixing the machine by whacking it once with a wrench doesn’t cost $10,000; knowing where to hit it does.

It is around 1:00 am on a Saturday night, and we get a call from a guy that’s locked out of an early 1990s Cadillac near the middle of the city.

Me: “Okay, that should be $125 to unlock the car, and I can be there in less than an hour.”

He agrees and tells me to come down. I managed to be onsite in a little more than thirty minutes, despite a decent storm going on.

The customer is there and the car is there; it’s business as usual. I do the preliminary stuff like grab his driver’s license to cross-reference with the registration and such. The keys are in the ignition, so I grab my tool, open the car in about thirty seconds, and grab the keys.

Normally, people are happy that it’s quick, or they make some lame joke about how they should learn to do that, but the price is very reasonable for the service — especially at 1:00 am in a rainstorm.

This guy…

Guy: *Smug and condescending* “I’ll pay you fifty bucks. That was too easy!”

I’m not having any of it. I shrug, toss the keys on the seat, and lock the doors. If it’s that easy, he can get ’em.

As you can imagine, the a**hole isn’t too happy with that. He sputters a bit.

Guy: “Fine! I’ll pay you. Just open the car.”

I unlock the car for the second time.

Me: “That’ll be $250; I’ve unlocked it twice.”

Instead of boring you with his four-letter vocabulary, I’ll just say that those keys end up back on the seat with the doors locked again.

At this point, the “gentleman” really gets to yelling and threatens to call another locksmith.

Me: *Politely* “My dad is the president of the local locksmith association and I would know any locksmith that would show up this late. They won’t be any more inclined to work a middle-of-the-night call for $50 than I am, and they won’t take kindly to your trying to cheat me out of my reasonable service charge twice.”

So, he calls the cops on me.

Well, the cops show up and ask me what is going on. I explained that I quoted the man a price over the phone, that there was a verbal agreement to the cost for me to come out and unlock the vehicle for $125, and at this point, I’ve unlocked it twice.

Officer: “Sir, you can either pay this locksmith to have your car opened or you can break a window.”

Guy: “I’m not breaking a window; it’s f****** raining!”

Officer: “Then I guess you’re paying the locksmith.”

So, he asks me to unlock his car. And I oblige. For the third time.

And, with his keys in my hand, I look him in the face and say:

Me: “That’ll be $375.”

He got pretty angry and asked if I would take a check. I kindly pointed out the ATM at the end of the block and told him that, unfortunately for him, I required cash.

Bonus! That particular ATM only dispensed $20 bills, so I got a $5.00 tip because, of course, I don’t carry change at that time of night.

Source: Reddit (Credit: KiltedRonin, Original Story)

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