Monday, June 16, 2008

The $7 idiot

There is something to be said for a job that trains you to look at a complete stranger and, before a word is uttered, know his character. I recognized an idiot just by the way he looked at me and walked across the street to my taxi. He told me where he was going, and I knew it would be a $7 ride.

En route I discover he's extremely drunk (I had picked him up outside a dive bar), and he was lamenting an $82 bar tab. He was quite a small, skinny guy, too. How could he have swilled down $82 in beer? Unless maybe he included some bar friends on the tab? I always pay attention to people who say how much they spent, which happens surprisingly often, so I can bring it up when they decide not to tip me. As in: "You have $82 to spend getting drunk, but can't spare a few dollars for a tip?" I never ask for a tip except when drunks are concerned. They won't complain to HQ.

To digress a bit, I recently discovered that when people are fallen down drunk, they can't read the meter, which just happens to be clearly and brightly lit. I told a drunk the fare was $22, when the meter said $7, and he gave me $22 and started to get out. I quickly told him I made a mistake, and gave him the correct change. I don't steal, but I wonder if any of our other drivers have tried this? I'll ask around.

Anyway, the $7 idiot tells me he needs an ATM, and then he'd like to stop by a 24-hr McDonald's. A $7 ride became a $15-20 ride, and I'm in better spirits. I stop at the curb in front of an ATM, and he gets out. When he returns to the car, he comes to my window instead of getting in. I already know what has happened, but I failed to fully grasp the depths of his idiocy.

Him: I lost my card.

Me: How much cash do you have?

Him: I lost my card.

Me, adopting the voice I use with toddlers: I heard you the first time. How much cash do you have?

Him: I think I left it at the bar.

Me: Hello?! How much cash do you have?

He opened his wallet, and I could see it was empty. I started the engine and drove off. I could hear, "Hey! Hey!" get fainter and fainter as I got farther away from the idiot.

Where do people like that come from? I've spent plenty of nights (long ago, I would like to mention) where I was wasted, and needed a cab. I was always courteous to the driver and I always had money.

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