Storytime Tapestry Newsletter
The newsletter devoted to spreading love and cultural awareness around the world.
February 18, 2008
Tipping the Taxi Driver
In this day and age with gasoline prices forever on the rise, many people are choosing to take public transportation rather than drive their own vehicles whenever possible. People are considering all the factors: the gas, the pollution, finding a decent parking spot, and paying exorbitant parking lot prices, or feeding the annoying parking meters. Downtown Montreal streets are becoming less congested and less polluted.
When Matt and I go to the synagogue for dinner and a presentation, he has to jump up in the middle of it to feed the meter. Matt is handicapped, he does most of his traveling by bus. Even taken the metro (subway) is too much for him. He cannot do all the walking involved in those big stations. For a while now, fewer people are choosing taxis as their mode of transportation. Matt would love to be able to take a taxi as it sure beats waiting an hour in a snowstorm for a bus to arrive. The trouble is he cannot afford it; just to go the synagogue from his work place or house and back would cost him $45.00. That is an expensive evening just for transportation, let alone if the synagogue was hosting a paying event as well.
Many people I used to know who once took taxis rarely take them now, they too cannot afford the rises costs. At one time you would have to call a taxi to be sure to get one in Montreal, especially downtown. Now you rarely have trouble hailing one down on the street. The taxi drivers slow down at the bus stops hoping someone would change their mind and use their service instead.
I have known a few friends or acquaintances throughout the years who were taxi drivers. They all told the same tail; "it is a hard job and you barely keep your family feed. If you work from the stand there are times that you can go for over an hour without a single call, and when you get one it could be a short drive for a few blocks and then your back waiting again. Money is tight but your family still needs a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. You still have to pay the bills."
Last night I was having a conversation with my friend who is a retired taxi driver, he was talking about how people are very stingy with tips. He told me about a time when he had a fare and the man forgot his umbrella in the cab.
Apparently, the man called the dispatcher who then called my friend on the radio to check if the umbrella was still in the car. Sure enough it was. The dispatcher told him to go and deliver it to the passenger who was waiting for it.
My friend did, but he was upset since the man didn't give him a tip.
Here is why:
The man forgot the umbrella
My friend had to go deliver it.
My friend also risked losing a fare somewhere else to go deliver the umbrella and this was my friend's job, his livelihood, and his way of putting food on the table for his family.
Finally, he potentially loses a fare and he wastes his own gas to deliver a cheep umbrella to an ungrateful passenger.
Now on another occasion:
Years ago I met a friend who came in from another city to have dinner with me. We took a taxi to the restaurant, but when it was time to pay, my friend realized he had lost his wallet and I didn't have any money on me.
My friend figured he must have left it in the taxi so he called the taxi. Since my friend had no way of picking it up at the taxi stand, the driver brought it back to him at the restaurant.
My friend paid the restaurant with his credit card but he tipped the taxi driver $20.00 from the cash he had in his wallet.
I asked him why did he give the driver so much and he answered, "this is not a tip for finding my wallet, it is paying the fare the taxi driver lost for having to go out of his way to bring this back to me, he may have lost a fare of 5 dollars or a fare of 20 dollars I don't know but I want to make sure he is compensated for it. "
I presented two different stories about people losing things in a taxi and two different attitudes towards having a driver come back with the goods.
Taxis are expensive we all know this, and people do lose things in taxis, but the question remains how will you deal with the situation should the taxi driver have to go out of his way to bring back your belongings?