Thursday, October 13, 2011


Folks, I am just a dirt-poor cab driver. The reason I make my living this way is not because I cannot do anything better - and in fact if my books take off I may not have to do this much longer - but because I have a degree of freedom in this line of work unmatched by almost any other. For instance I can choose to sit on my fat ass and write stuff here if I wish, and today is one of those days I wish.

I just read something on AOL news about a waitress who received a credit card slip with no tip, with the notation that "you could stand to loose some weight" (pretty sure the a-hole meant "lose". But people these days evidently can't be bothered to apply what they know of spelling and grammar. However, I digress.)

Now, we cab drivers are not as dependent on tips as wait staff are. Waiters and waitresses are usually paid about two bucks an hour and absolutely rely on gratuities. I have waited tables before and have some real horrible cheapskate stories of my own.

Once, I had a young lady and her father in. The young lady had a sore throat and wanted scrambled eggs, and I patiently stood and listened as she explained in excruciating detail that she wanted her eggs soft, but without any raw, runny parts; as if she were the only person in the world who could know what having a raw sore throat was like. I actually had to take a seat because she wanted me to take extensive notes. (I am not making this up!) She could have just said she wanted the eggs very soft but fully cooked, but instead I had to listen to this whole fucking song-and-dance.

This took place in a Falls Church "Steak and Eggs" clone in Seven Corners where I was managing the joint. I was there between shifts and our waitresses and the assistant cook had not come in, so I was faced with these two PLUS four other tables. That's right, folks. Take the orders, cook the food (fry the fish, put the steaks on, flip the burgers, keep track of everything, collect the payment, EVERYTHING. )

So I made the eggs perfectly. I know I did because the young lady thanked me effusively.

But when I bused the table, what did I find?

Exact change for the tab, and a business card that said:

"While I appreciate the service you have rendered and the quality of my meal, I believe that the practice of "tipping" is unfair to both you and I. I and others believe that your employer should pay you a living wage. I would gladly pay a higher price for my meal, but I believe it to be deceptive for a restaurant owner to expect his customers to pay a price higher than what is listed on the menu. Please give this card to your employer and tell him that I and others like me expect the price of a service to be what is stated at the outset of the transaction."


Let me be clear about this. I understand that some people HAVE to eat in a restaurant if they want a hot meal, and we had regulars in that place who came in nearly every morning for the "special" of one egg, one piece of toast, and a cup of coffee for $1.45 (this was 1980). These folks rarely if ever left anything extra; and if they did it was because they didn't want to wait for change of a dime. But really, if you're that bad off then God bless ya, and would you like me to warm up your coffee?


It's the same thing in the taxicab biz. I get a regular going to work who has to take a taxi every day, I don't expect a tip. After all, I'm taking the passenger to someplace he probably would rather be anywhere else but. Charon doesn't get tips from people he is ferrying across the Styx to Hell, so why should these folks tip me?

As to every other situation, a "gratuity" should be determined by the level of service provided. I have gotten gigantic tips from people who loved the entertainment value of the ride as provided by me. (I have also been stiffed by people who did not like my sense of humor)

Gratuities, let me make clear, are always gratefully accepted. They are in no wise expected, and neither I nor any other person in the service industry has a right to expect them. I have many regular customers who tip not at all, but they are regular riders and truth be told they are pleasant enough that I would not charge them at all save for the fact that I am working to pay the rent. And after all, I'll take a cheapskate before a fare-evader or a robber any day.

Having said all this, I will say one thing further.

IF I EVER get a credit card slip returned to me with such a personal insult written on it, it will never be posted on the Net.

Because if I was that waitress I would have chased the mug down and shoved the paper down his throat. No kidding.

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