Cash Cab.

Source: The Daily Hive

The recent story of a Vancouver man who got taken on an unnecessarily lengthy taxi ride around his hometown got my attention because I have some experience riding in cabs, and, in fact, in this era of “ride sharing” services like Uber and Lyft, I can think of a few reasons I’d rather take a taxi, including being able to pay in cash and not having to download yet another stupid app to my phone, and there are a lot of decent hardworking cab drivers out there just trying to make a living. Anyway the Vancouver story is that a local guy told a cab driver he was a tourist from Wisconsin and what should have been a ten minute ride turned into forty-five minutes. The interesting thing is the cab company is suggesting it might not have happened. Being a company, and also Canadian, they’re very polite about it, with a Yellow Cab spokesperson noting that “that drivers want to take the correct and shortest routes, especially on busy nights.” And yet I know it happens, and it baffles me. Clearly there are arcane aspects to driving a taxi that I’m unfamiliar with because I can’t imagine how taking the time to fleece would-be tourists would benefit any cab driver, especially now with the prevalence of GPS tracking and route maps available to anyone with a smartphone, even without having to download yet another stupid app.
It also got me thinking about my time as a college student in Evansville, Indiana. Very few of my friends had cars, and the ones who did rarely wanted to lose their campus parking spots which were small in number, not to mention small in size and difficult to get into and out of, so most of the time when we wanted to go somewhere that was more than walking distance we took the bus. Or occasionally we splurged on a cab. And every cab ride was the same amount: five bucks. There were two malls in Evansville at the time. If we wanted to go to the Eastland Mall it was five bucks. If we wanted to go to Washington Square Mall it was five bucks. If we wanted to go downtown it was five bucks. Getting back from downtown was five bucks. All the cabs had meters than ran as we went along, but the price always came out to be the same.
At the time I thought this was just a funny coincidence, but, looking back, I realize how much sense it makes. Evansville is a small town. The two malls, and downtown for that matter, were all pretty much the same distance from the university campus.
Once when some friends and I got into a cab the driver asked where we were from. We were from all over, but when I said Nashville he perked up.
“I’ve been to Nashville,” he said, “lots of times.” At first I thought he meant Nashville, Indiana, which is a mistake only Hoosiers make–everywhere else in the world when I tell people I’m from Nashville they immediately say “You must be a country music fan!” and I don’t have the heart to tell ‘em I’m not, but that’s another story.
The cab driver did mean Nashville, Tennessee, though, and he told us that a wealthy Evansville widow used to pay him fifteen hundred dollars to drive her down to Nashville. He’d then idle along while she walked down the sidewalk going into one bar after another, getting steadily drunker. Then when she could barely stand up she’d get back in the cab and by the time he drove her home she’d be sober again, or at least sober enough to get into her house.
He hadn’t finished his story by the time we got to the mall where we were going but we all sat and listened to him until he was done, and it only cost us five bucks.

13 Comments

  1. mydangblog

    The same thing happened to us in Vancouver a couple of years ago. We needed to take a cab from the train station to our hotel. We were really tired but realized after about ten minutes that the driver had just driven in a very large square. We questioned him, and he was like Oh, I was just trying to avoid traffic. He took us directly to the hotel after we pointed out the direct route on my phone.
    mydangblog recently posted…My Week 267: Testing MyselfMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Being able to catch shady cab drivers is definitely one of the advantages of smartphones. I wonder why they even bother trying anymore, or why they ever did. A cab driver never knows when they’re going to get someone who’s local or who at least knows the area well enough to know they’re being taken for a ride.

      Reply
  2. The Huntress915

    I’m so glad that I live in a city where we’re not too overcrowded where I can have a car and yet small enough to know about what not to do if one has to take a cab or ride share. Besides other than having to deal with Truckzilla in the parking lot where I work, I’m happy driving myself everywhere I need to go…..sorry Uber/Lyft drivers.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I imagine parking Truckzilla can be a problem sometimes, but, yeah, having a vehicle of your own to get around in has its advantages. Even though I spend some time taking the bus it’s really a choice more than a necessity, and when I really need to get somewhere in a hurry I like having a vehicle of my own too.

      Reply
  3. Allison

    I actually love the stories I hear from my Uber/Lyft drivers. And in cities where cabs are more prevalent, I have had good experiences there, too.

    I just like people and their stories.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      If I had a reason to take an Uber or Lyft I think I’d really enjoy hearing the driver’s stories–and also if they had stories they wanted to share. So far I just haven’t needed to, and it’s been decades since I had to take a cab anywhere.

      Reply
  4. M. L. James

    That was a fun story…and it only cost you…$5.00. 😊

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Even better: there were five of us in the cab and we split the cost of the ride so it only cost me $1.

      Reply
  5. Arionis

    After downloading yet another app on my phone I took an Uber from the airport to my home, or at least it should have been to my home. When we first started off I saw that he was generally heading in the direction of my house so of course I took out my phone and jacked into it. When he stopped and said we were there, I looked up to see some empty warehouse in an abandoned business park. It turns out that someone with the same first name as me ordered an Uber from the airport at the same time. When my driver asked me if I was Lee I just said yes and hopped in. Didn’t even verify the driver name or car type on my screen. After some quick negotiations and a google map search, he took me home. When I got home I had a VM from my intended Uber driver who picked up the other Lee and then figured it out and took him BACK to the airport. Sorry other Lee, I’m sure that was frustrating for you. Why did you want to go to an abandoned warehouse anyway?
    Arionis recently posted…Nudity GratuitaMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There’s a whole story about why Other Lee wanted to go to an abandoned warehouse, I’m sure, and it’s probably not as shady as it sounds. If it were would he have really been using a rideshare service that would track his movements? That’s funny, though, that you got your driver signals crossed like that. At least it wasn’t as bad as the Seinfeld episode when Jerry decides at the airport to take someone else’s limo by pretending to be the guy whose name is on the driver’s sign.

      Reply
  6. Ann Koplow

    Great stories, Chris, and they were free!
    Ann Koplow recently posted…Day 2538: Coping and HealingMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The old saying that the best things in life are free applies equally well to stories and to your comments.

      Reply
  7. Bryce Warden

    Can you imagine the things cabbies have witnessed, a million stories.

    Reply

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