Day Cabbie

San Francisco taxi stories from one of the very rare female drivers

Irritability breeds irritable people

I was being irritable today, so people started acting really irritably towards me. I take full responsibility for attracting this kind of energy to my cab today, but I also need to vent about it.

I won't even mention the guy who honked at me and flipped me off when he was already half a block past me. I'm sure it was justified, at least in his mind. But there are two people I will mention.

The first one was another cab driver. He was in the cab behind me in line at the airport. I guess I was a little slow today. The first time we started moving, I had forgotten that I had turned off my car, so it took me a few seconds to get going, and he, I guess, didn't like that. Then, when we had to pay our parking fee, I took a little bit longer than he did, so he actually ended up in front of me, but then stopped to let me go first. I passed him and waved to say thanks. I really appreciate it when drivers remember who was first and maintain the original order. It's common courtesy and practiced by most drivers. But when I passed him he yelled "Come on!" I would have preferred "You're welcome" to my thank you wave but I can let this one slide. But then. After the line stopped again, he got out of his car, and as he walked by mine he said

"You're lucky that you're cute."

And then he just kept walking and left me sitting there with my mouth agape. I wasn't quick enough to say anything back to him but what I should have said is FUCK YOU. And what if I wasn't cute? Then what? Would you yell at me some more? Would you beat me up? Would you curse me for being a little slow today?

I was really, really angry at this guy. I don't want to mention words like sexist or sexual harassment, but I felt that that comment was not only unnecessary but also completely inappropriate.

And then there were the two ladies who flagged me down at the California Pacific Medical Center. I think they tricked me out of my tip but I'm not completely sure. I might be wrongfully accusing them due to today's irritability but here is what happened.

The first lady said

"We need to go to 101 California but I only have ten dollars."


"If it gets to be more than ten dollars, you can just let us out at ten dollars."

"Okay. I don't think it's going to be more than ten dollars."

"Well, sometimes it isn't but sometimes it goes up to eleven. I do this ride a lot."

"I see."

I decided that I would just take the ladies to their final destination and accept the ten dollars even if it was a little more. It ended up being $9.85. So I didn't really get a tip. I saw the two ladies giggling after they got out. Maybe I'm just paranoid but here is what I suspect happened:

The lady who did all the talking gets into cabs all the time and says "I only have ten dollars." It seems smart because I suppose it ensures that the driver will hurry up and get her where she is going as fast and as cheaply as possible.

I am perfectly happy foregoing my tip if somebody is really short on cash. But I have a feeling the lady played a trick on me (and regularly plays it on other drivers as well), especially since she said she does this ride all the time. I found it a little suspect that neither of the two ladies had more cash OR a credit card. They could have paid with a credit card!

Here is why this trick is messed up, if it was indeed a trick:
- Wanting the fare to be ten dollars or less, I started speeding.
- I got practically no tip. Cab driving is not a very high-paying profession, even including tips.
- If there had been traffic, which would have been out of my control, the fare would have been higher, and she would have cheated me out of my tip AND part of the fare.

Maybe in taking this ride all the time, she noticed a difference in price and blamed it on the cab driver going too slowly or not taking the most direct route. The "I only have ten dollars" is one way to keep the driver in line. But as a rule, the driver will be in line anyway. Such a measure is not necessary. And it robs the driver of his tip and possibly more. I really hope that the lady was telling the truth and this was a one-time occurrence. If she did this regularly, that would be very irritating.


At 3/25/2008 12:52:00 AM, Blogger Paradise Driver said...

Act like a cop, or a salesrep, and always answer a question with a question.

Never agree to anything until YOU have control of the situation.

"Only have..."

"Do you have a credit or debit card?"

"Uh, yes."

"Great! We'll just put it on the plastic."

At 3/26/2008 01:34:00 PM, Anonymous kfarr said...

I treat customers similarly: when this happens in my cab I'm often too polite.

I agree 100% -- if someone has the cash and is just being manipulatively stingy like these ladies, that's not cool.

But, if someone is late for work and it's an hourly, low paying job and the Muni never came and they might be fired and just have a tenner, I have no problem at all taking no tip.

It seems to be more about the spirit of the transaction than the actual money lost. Did they intend to 'cheat' me? Was I taken for a fool? Or, did I help someone in need while making a few honestly earned bucks for myself?


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