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An Expert In Wait-y Matters

, , , | Right | June 29, 2022

Close to 5 am one Saturday morning, I stopped at a taxi stop near a train station in central Copenhagen. There was a long line of customers as well as lots of mostly young people everywhere trying to flag down a taxi.

At times like this, I prefer to only pick up people at taxi stops. My logic is: If they’re sober enough to find their way to a taxi stop, they’re probably sober enough not to get sick in my car.

I drive to the front of the slightly disorganised line, roll down the window and ask: “Who has waited the longest?”

Just as two young women were about to open one of the rear doors, a young man skipped the line, shoved his way past them and slid into the back seat.

Me: “I don’t think it was your turn.”

Passenger: “How about a fare to [place ten miles away]?”

Me: “I don’t care where you’re going. You skipped the line.”

Passenger: “I don’t wait in lines.”

Me: “And I don’t drive people, who don’t wait in lines.”

He complained a bit, but eventually left. The two young women got in and I took them to their destination.

American Tipping Is Going Down The Tubes

, , , , , , , | Right | June 3, 2022

I drive a taxi in London — not the traditional black cab that you see in films, but an ordinary large (by our standards) saloon car.

I was sent to Heathrow to pick up an American couple and take them to a West End hotel. We mostly hated Heathrow because it often meant a long wait (not on the meter) and bad traffic back to town, but with Americans, we expected a larger than usual tip. 

This job was okay, though. The plane was on time, and my passengers were quick off the blocks and saw me with the usual sign well ahead of the bulk of the passengers getting through customs and immigration.

We loaded their considerable luggage into the boot and, with them in the back seat, we set off, straight into a jam on the motorway. My passengers had strong accents and I found it hard to understand when they asked questions, but it was obvious that they had a problem. We were stopped at some lights when they explained that they urgently needed “a bathroom”.

That’s not easy in central London, and public conveniences were no great advert for our city, so I detoured to a well-known department store and let them out. I wasn’t concerned that they would run off because I had all their luggage.

It took them ages, and I had to drive around the block to avoid getting a ticket, but eventually, they came back clutching some of the department store’s bags. I took them to their hotel without further problems and they seemed grateful. 

When they got out, I helped with the bags and then told the man what the fare was. He seemed surprised, but there was half an hour waiting time, so I suppose it was a bit more than our office had quoted. He pulled out his wallet and counted out the notes, and then he opened a change purse so he could find the exact money before walking off without leaving me a tip.

I wouldn’t have minded so much except that the uniformed flunky from the hotel who did nothing but hold the door for them got a good tip for his trouble.

The Scottish Aren’t Known For Being Sheepish

, , , , , , , | Right | April 26, 2022

Two friends and I (along with several thousand other knitters from all over the world) descend on the ancient and beautiful city of Edinburgh, Scotland for the annual Yarn Festival. I’ve booked rooms in a guesthouse, and at breakfast the first morning, we discover that everyone else at the table is there for the same reason. There’s a total of four Americans and two Austrians. We quickly calculate that it will be slightly cheaper and much faster for us to split a taxi fare six ways than to ride the bus to the venue every day.

Although we have all signed up for classes, the real draw is the stunning variety of beautiful wools offered by two exhibition halls worth of vendors. We hold back the first day, but at sunset on the second day, the six of us stagger out of the venerable Corn Exchange heavily laden with purchases.

Our driver watches as we pack bag after bag after bag into his Tardis-like black taxi.

Finally, he asks slyly:

Driver: “Wouldnae it be cheaper tae just tak’ a sheep home wid ye?”

This story is part of our Halfway-Through-2022 roundup!

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Well, She Made ONE Good Decision

, , , , , | Learning | April 23, 2022

I am a taxi driver picking up my first fare of the day. I pick up a lady in her forties going to the local tafe — think community college for those Americans. She seems a little off but polite enough.

Halfway through the job:

Lady: “Actually, can we stop at [Bottleshop]?”

Me: “Sure, I can stop there, but it’s the other way from [Tafe].”

Lady: “Yeah, that’s fine. I really need a bottle of [Cheap Wine].”

I stop. She gets out and staggers inside, while I contemplate this lady already drunk at 10:00 am and buying more alcohol to drink at [Tafe]. She returns after a few minutes. She opens the bottle, takes a big gulp of it, and then gets back in the taxi.

Lady: “It’s okay, I know not to drink in the cab. Now to [Tafe].”

We get almost to the tafe.

Lady: “You know what? I don’t think I should go.”

Me: “Oh, okay. It’s up to you.”

Lady: “Yeah, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m drunk.”

Me: “Fair enough. So, where to now?”

Lady: “[Pickup address], please.”

I drive her home. All in all, it cost her $60 for a $13 bottle of wine. And she leaves me with this:

Lady: “Yeah, I think it’s a good idea to stay home. Wouldn’t want the students getting the wrong idea now.”

She staggered inside and I was a little dumbfounded.

Criminal Or Stupid? We May Never Know.

, , , , | Legal | April 12, 2022

I am second in a line of taxis at one of the major squares in Copenhagen. Three young men walk up to the first taxi and ask the driver something. After a few seconds, they walk down to my taxi. This is usually a sign that the driver in front has declined whatever their request might be, so I am prepared to also deny their request.

Man #1: “Can we pay with a Visa card?”

Me: “You can, but the taxi in front of me will also accept Visa.”

Man #2: “But do you accept Visa even if it’s a card we have found?”

I declined the fare. I couldn’t help thinking that this criminal career of theirs was still in its infancy and that maybe they would be better off doing something else.