The Dog Is Out Of Food

Since this is an exercise I decided to see where I go when I look around and see what’s happening in my world. This sort of reminds me of Anchorman where the character Brick, played by Steve Carell, looks around the room and says, “I love lamp”. Then Ron Burgundy says, “Brick, you’re just looking at stuff in the room and saying that you love it, aren’t you?” This was some wacky, bizarre humor and somehow it worked.

I guess that’s what goes on with morning pages. Somehow it works.

Where to from here, sir?

My brother drives a cab now. They say it’s one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. I think (I hope) that depends a lot on where you do your cabbie thing. San Diego County should be safe, right? My brother is pretty smart about it. He’s learned a lot in the last couple (has is been four?!) years driving the highways, freeways, and surface streets of North San Diego County. He’s had some bizarre experiences sort of along the lines of Ron Burgundy’s tale, but so far no news team fights.

He has surprised me with stories about other cabbies. My brother is decent and honest in the way he drives his cab. He’s had some people get out of his cab and say, “$40? Really? The last cabbie that took me this way charged me $60.” While they don’t all charge the same amount, there is a ballpark and whoever that cabbie was that overcharged that rider is likely to have cheated him instead of simply having a much higher rate.

One of my brother’s tips: Check the meter before the cab starts moving. Apparently some cabbies will not begin at the beginning and you might start out with $20 on the meter!

It never even occurs to my brother to do something like that. You charge what you charge and you might even charge more than the next guy, but what you charge is clear upfront and there is never a reason to be dishonest. My brother has been through some tough times financially in the last few years driving the cab, but he finally has his own vehicle. That means he doesn’t have to rent a cab from another company. He’s his own business now. And the economy, ever so slowly, is picking up. Really the main thing right now is he doesn’t have to pay a big chunk for cab rental. He still doesn’t make anything close to what he had hoped when he started years ago, but he’s honest and repeat customers realize that.

I’m urging him to put all of his tips for passengers onto a blog soon. Unless you take a cab often, you probably didn’t even think about checking the meter first. I know that I might not have.

He does run into his share of problem customers. Like those who have a discussion with him at the start of the ride and he makes very clear that he is cash only. At the end of the ride they hand him a credit card. He says he can usually tell about that kind of custormer now. Or the three guys who ran away when he got to their destination. One of the simpletons left his cell phone in the cab. My brother called him and went to return his phone the next day. The guy sheepishly apologized and payed him double. My brother is a decent guy and I don’t think people who ride in cabs to rip off cabbies don’t realize that they might be taking from someone who is that honest with his customers. I’m not saying my brother is the cheapest, but he’s honest about how much he charges.

Maybe people who run away from a cab after they get where they’re going don’t even think about the decency of the driver. Or maybe they’re cynical and think taxi drivers rip you off, so what the heck? My brother wasn’t raised that way. Neither was I. We’re not perfect, but taking too much money from a fare because they don’t know any better? Come on.

If I go into 7-Eleven and bring a Big Gulp to the counter, the cashier doesn’t say $9.50 and then when I say, “Hey, wait a minute…” does he change the amount to $1.59. He charges what it costs. When you’re getting into a cab, I suggest you be more cautious than when you go to the store. And I know sometimes they make mistakes.

My wife and I were in Costco about a month ago and the guy punched in the number wrong on some cheese stuff that I went to get. He thought he knew the number and I guess he did. BUT, he accidentally added a digit onto the number and instead of the price being $16.99, it was about $170.00. As soon as we stepped away from the cashier, we knew there was a problem and he apologized sincerely and twenty minutes later we were on our way. (That’s another story.)

But I guess I’m saying that besides occasional human error, there do seem to be some cabbies that will overcharge you on purpose and you need to watch out. I suggest that you ride with my brother. Maybe we’ll get his blog up soon and then he can even recommend good cabbies in other areas. I don’t mean to paint with too wide a brush, but what my brother has described to me seems more than random or “normal”.

I have a lot of experience in public cardrooms and casinos and it sounds similar to what I’ve experienced there. You might have seen some tournaments like The World Series of Poker on TV and maybe it looked exciting and fun. It can be. Yet my experience is that conservatively, there are about 15% more people who are similar to cabbies who overcharge in the casino than in the general public at large. Some are snakes.

And I recognize that that is true for some people anywhere in the world. The world is not filled with only angels. The world is filled with humans. Sinners, if you will.

It’s just that there seem to be a higher proportion who were not raised the way you might think driving cabs or in casinos. That’s my judgement and I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

On the positive side, hopefully!

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