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Weeding Out The Bad Customers, Part 2

, , , , , , | Right | January 18, 2023

A few years after smoking in taxis in Denmark became illegal, I picked up a young woman aged about eighteen. She told me where she was going, and I set off.

Passenger: “Is it okay if I smoke?”

Me: “No. I’m sorry, but it’s been illegal for a few years by now.”

Passenger: “What if I roll down the window?”

Me: “No. It’s still illegal and it does leave a stench afterward.”

Passenger: “What if I smoke weed, then? When you smoke weed, there’s no smell afterward.”

Me: *In disbelief* “Sorry, but no. It is still illegal.”

Her claim that the smell of weed doesn’t linger was weird. Also, I got to her destination in less than ten minutes.

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Weeding Out The Bad Customers

Using Change To Force Change

, , , , , | Right | December 29, 2022

Back in 2006, I worked as a taxi driver on nights for a small (two-car) minicab company in a small town in North East England.

One Sunday, at about midnight, I get a call to pick up a customer from a pizza place on the high street. I get there and a young woman gets in carrying a takeaway.

Customer: “Drop me off [less than a mile up the high street].”

This racks up a fare of about £2.30. No problem. She then pulls out a £20 note.

Customer: “Ehh, but I don’t have any change.”

This is before contactless payment is a thing. She has just come out of a shop where she could have gotten change. This is a pretty common scam on short-distance fares; some people think male drivers will just let them go if they look needy or just bat their eyelashes.

I manage to make change, but it clears my float and I have to go back to my boss’s house to get more change. He isn’t happy as this takes me off the road, and he blames me for not making passengers pay exact fare.

Roll on to the next week.

I have had a bad Sunday. All night, I have been getting exact fare without asking for it, all in very small-denomination coins. My float is very heavy.

At the same time of night, I get a call for the same pick-up: the same woman and same destination.

She gives the same offer of payment of a £20 note.

Me: “No problem. I have over £17 of small-denomination coins!”

It took me five minutes to count out a double handful of coins that she could only store in her pizza box. She had to put the pizza on top of the box.

I never saw her again.

Did I ASK For The Scenic Route?

, , , , , , | Working | December 22, 2022

It’s New Year’s Eve, and as you can imagine, there’s a party. It is important to know, however, that I can’t drink, and I can’t drive. I’m of legal age to do both, but for various reasons, I cannot.

So, when it gets to 10:00 pm, I tap out, socially exhausted and ready to get home, but since I came with people who aren’t ready to go, I call a cab for myself. It’s early enough that the rush on them hasn’t started, so the cab reaches me in ten minutes.

I hop into the cab, give him my address, exchange pleasantries, and then relax to watch the ride go by. The driver surprises me by turning anticlockwise from the location. We’re basically on the other side of an O from my place, but most people — even professionals — forget the anticlockwise route works. I figure he’s aiming to miss some of the larger crowds that happen on the clockwise side since that goes right by town, and I turn to look out the window at nature.

All the while, the driver is telling a tale about a dog that he adopted out, but then the new owners were treating it badly, so he’d been thinking about stealing it back. I make some comments about how mad people being mean to dogs makes me when I notice… he has turned so we are now going clockwise.

Maybe he just misjudged the turn? I keep silent, hoping I didn’t see something, and he heads the full length back down the clockwise slope onto the highway back toward home. Okay, weird detour, but we’re nearly there, right? Just stay on the highway and it lets out ten minutes easy-turning from my place.

NOPE.

The guy crosses over the highway and heads into the heart of town, which is, of course, bursting with New Year’s cheer.

At this point, a twenty-minute journey is almost topping forty minutes. I’m still nodding along peacefully to the gentleman’s story, seeing if I can find my cell phone without being obvious. It has hit me by now that he doesn’t think I’d notice the strange detours, almost certainly assuming I am drunk and my friends sent me home to not ruin the party.

Thankfully, that’s the end of it. He gets me home far later than I wanted to be, and I hand over some cash and give a fake polite smile to someone who thought a smashed broad wouldn’t notice paying a double fare.

Then, as soon as he is out of sight and I am inside, I call the cab company to carefully explain how their driver has just taken the weirdest route to my house I could ever describe. They transfer the money back to me about two days later after doing an investigation.

I never found out if that gentleman remained a cabbie, but I sort of doubt it after that.

This Is Your Pilot On Auto-Brain… Wait…

, , , , , | Working | December 16, 2022

I work as a museum staffer. All staff carry radios in order to communicate with our central office and exhibition management — “operations” for short. When we radio them, the formula is “[Name] to operations” on a public channel and then switching to a second private channel to report whatever issue needs reporting. The phrase for that is “on two”.

It’s a busy day visitor-wise, and there’s construction work for a special exhibition going on, so there’s plenty of radioing to report in technical issues and to field guest complaints. I spend a lot of time on the radio until pretty much the last minute of my shift. After, I decide to call a taxi to get home because I’m too exhausted to brave our crowded public transport.

I call a taxi line on my mobile phone.

Employee: “[Taxi Line], how may I help you?”

Me: *On auto-brain* “[My Name] to operations.”

Employee: “Excuse me?”

Me: *Somewhere between auto-brain and awareness* “Oh, my God, I’m sorry. On two! On two!”

Employee: “Is… is this a prank call? But you just gave me your name…”

I finally snapped back to the present when I was looking for the button to switch to channel two on my phone and realized that I wasn’t on the radio any longer.

The taxi line employee and I shared a good laugh about it once I explained. Turns out she knew all about auto-brain and was definitely able to sympathize.

I got my taxi and made it home fine, and since then, I’ve called them a couple of times. When that employee is staffing the phones and I give my name, her usual reply tends to be, “This is operations.” It makes me smile every time, and I’m glad that if I’m one of Those People, at least I belong to the amusing variety.

The Travel Disaster That Wasn’t

, , , , , , , , , , , | Right | December 4, 2022

Work has sent me off to Chicago to conduct a training. I have arrived at the airport in San Diego, but the plane is delayed. It happens, but I’m now worried about my connection since the flight is not direct.

While we’re waiting, there is a small earthquake. Is this going to affect my flight? Yes and no. It is large enough to be felt but small enough that they’re just taking the reports of all the staff that there is no damage at face value and continuing. But my flight is still delayed. What was supposed to have been a 9:00 am flight is now well after noon, but it still hasn’t been canceled.

The flight finally comes, but I have clearly missed my connection, and by the time they get me onto a new plane for Chicago and I get into O’Hare, it’s about midnight. The rental car agency has closed, and I need to get to North Chicago, about thirty miles away. My hotel is also up there.

My first decision is to find a room where I am, get my rental car in the morning, and hightail it up to my location to hopefully get there in time. However, the cost of the hotel by the airport is outrageous, so I make some more phone calls and find a long-haul taxi service to get me to my hotel. I have called to let them know that I am here but I’m stuck at the airport.

Fortunately for me, the training is taking place at a location right across the street from the hotel, so I don’t need transportation if I can just get to the hotel. They understand and say that they’ll be waiting for me and will have all the paperwork set up so that all I’ll need to do when I get there is sign on the line and I can go straight to bed.

The taxi driver is very sympathetic to my plight.

Taxi Driver: “How are you going to get back to the airport?”

Me: “I’ll either have someone at the training give me a ride back or find another taxi service to get me back.”

Taxi Driver: “No, no, I’ll have none of that. When is your flight out, and when do you expect to be done with training?”

I tell him, and I point out that the timing is such that I’ll pretty much need to leave immediately after the training in order to have enough time to get to the airport and through security to make my flight.

Taxi Driver: “I’ll make sure that I’m available at that time.”

He gives me his business card.

Taxi Driver: “Call me an hour before you think you’ll be done so I can be there to collect you.”

The next day went off pretty much just fine. I did my training, I called the driver, and he came to get me, driving a bit quickly (but not recklessly) in order to get me to the airport on time.

To that taxi driver, thank you so much for this. I’m sure that part of it was that you’d have a good fare, but it was still exactly what I needed given the predicament that I was in.

And by the way: when I got to the hotel, the paperwork was right there, I signed, and they directed me to the room that was right there on the first floor by the front desk: room 101.

It was actually a very nice room.