Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Little Extra Change

Unfortunately or otherwise, being that we're -- for a little while longer -- on separate coasts, Kaia's excursions into or through NYC are always pleasant events. Despite the fact they -- like everything else in life -- typically occur at peak busy seasons, having her in town is always -- without question -- far better than not having her in town.

Having said all that, we typically have our arrival routine down pat. Almost always, rather than have me meet her at JFK -- which is certainly more than fine with me -- she likes a little down time in the form of a typically eventful cab ride. Either the driver's BO is legendary -- a feat many of us have experienced, no matter the weather or the open-window jaunt that rarely helps to ebb that flow -- or the traffic is similarly legendary, and nearly as offensive.

However, last night's journey was one for the books.

Apparently, Kaia's driver had some issues. First, the ride should have taken less than a half-hour from JFK at midnightish to my place right off the Triboro. Somehow, it took longer. Being that said driver wasn't sporting legendary BO or something akin thereto was a plus. Nor was his cab replete with smells only sanitation engineers could accurately describe.

Unfortunately, however, the ride did have a quasi-lasting impact. Apparently, the flat-rate fare thing needs to be more indelibly explained to people possessing questionable literacy skills.

Turns out that the "Flat Rate Fare" from JFK to NYC is $45, and apparently that does not include tolls. However, each trip we've taken from JFK to my building has never required us to pay tolls. Until, however, last night.

Kaia kicked the driver a $50 because that's all she had handy in cash. Upon her arrival, the driver -- after inexplicably going a block and a half further than necessary -- turned around and stopped in front of my building. Unfortunately, the dispute resulted when she handed him a $50 and he killed the meter -- and then demanded payment of the toll across the Triboro. By doing so, he effectively made it impossible for her to take back the $50 and pay for the ride, and the tolls, with a credit card. I had no cash on me and my wallet was safely ensconced in my apartment, so neither of us had any cash beyond the $50 said driver had already pocketed. So his demand of additional funds, plus a gratuity for his extra-genius-like driving, odor and personality skills.

Since there was no extra money to be exchanged, said driver was -- clearly -- tweaked. I can't blame him to some degree; apparently, the "flat rate to NYC" does NOT include tolls.

However, since neither of us -- as indicated above -- has ever been asked to pay said tolls, it was our natural suspicion that the guy was jerking us. So we gave him the $50 and wished him a good night. He wasn't satisfied, however, and -- well after midnight, with both of us weary from the day, the night, her from the flight and me from work -- he wanted to have a discussion about the entire incident.

Neither of us, frankly, were interested in extended discourse, and we wished him a good night. Apparently his logical next step was to hurl the change -- something in the range of about eighty cents -- in our direction at my building. None of the change hit us or the building, but we figured that for a money-conscious driver, throwing change at customers isn't the ideal way to move forward.

A recommendation for the prospective cab driver: if you enter into a dispute with someone, throwing a temper-tantrum -- and change -- at said customer is generally the wrong way to go about handling the matter. By law, technically, he's guilty of assault. Frankly, he saw neither of us wasn't trying to screw him, and had he said "Look it up online, you'll see you're responsible for the toll." Had he done that, I would have gotten his medallion number off the receipt which I insured we kept, and I would have found a way to kick the guy a $20 after the fact. However, had I decided to return the favor -- and the change -- his way, I'd call the Taxi Limousine Commission and let them know they have a kook behind the wheel.

I'm sure they'll get right on it and insure he stops driving. Right after, of course, they manage to track down Santa's sleigh as it crossed over the Queensboro.

So a few morals to this extended story. First and foremost, before you hit the road in a cab, make sure you know for what he or she expects you to pay. If something sounds off -- say, a dashboard air freshener charge -- you're probably being jerked. If it sounds a little questionable, check it out online if you have 'net access on your phone, and if not, consider the time of day/night and decide whether you want to wait for another cab or just go along with the bullshit rather than waste any more of your time. And finally, if and when possible, try and use a credit card in your payment so you can dispute any extraneous charges. I used to avoid charging cab trips, but invariably it's a lot easier disputing/canceling a charge than trying to track down Bocephus the Magnificent, aka Ned from Eastern Romania, in some midnight to 8 shift in a taxi garage in Queens in an effort to get your fiver back in your pocket.

Otherwise, it's nice having her home and it's even nicer knowing that we have some spare change floating around. Nothing like having a little extra change.

Oh, and for those of you hoping for salacious details about her first night in NYC, you'll have to wait and see the movie.

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