Once a month, I buy eight cases of water from a nearby Loblaws. The store calls Beck Taxi when I ask for a taxi to get the water home.
The meter works on Time and Distance. It starts at $3.25 and increases $0.25 every 29 seconds and every 0.143 km (0.09 of a mile).
The fare from the Loblaws to my home comes to between six and seven dollars. I always give the driver ten dollars and tell him to keep the change. That’s because drivers help me load and unload the cases of water.
Today, a Beck Taxi owner-driver came to pick me up. He owned the vehicle he was driving. The last time an owner-driver picked me up, he bitched about the eight cases of water ruining the shocks of his car. Today’s owner-driver did the same. He did not help me load the water. He just stood there and complained that all the water would not fit in his trunk and what was in his trunk would ruin his shocks.
“Funny,” I said, “how the other Beck Taxis are the same size as yours and have no problem fitting all the water in the trunk. If it helps, start the meter while I finish loading up.”
“I already did!” he said. “I can start the meter any time any part of you or your property enters my taxi.”
What a cranky, aggressive bastard. He said it as if he was expecting me to argue with him. I had no plans to argue. I was willing to pay for his time. I have told other drivers to start the meter while I load the water. “That’s okay,” they say, “I’ll wait until we’re ready to go before I start the meter.”
When I got in the taxi, the meter was at $4.00. That means it took me 90 seconds to load the trunk. I told the driver the address and started to tell him that it was west of Christie Street. He interrupted and shouted, “Don’t tell me how to get there! I know where it is.”
But when he was driving south on Christie Street, he was about to turn left and go east on my street.
“No,” I said, “you turn right. It’s west of Christie.”
“It’s east of Christie,” he said.
“Look, I should know where I live. I thought you said you knew where you were going.”
“Don’t talk to me! You’re not wearing your mask properly. I’m getting all your germs.”
My thought was, “This prick is not going to get a tip.” And then a board member for Gary Johnston Incorporated stood up. He was dressed in a white robe and had a halo around his elbow. (Bet you thought I was going to say his head.)
He said, “Imagine how much this man is suffering to be so aggressive with a total stranger. Not giving him a tip does not help his suffering. Take the high road. Give him a tip.”
And The Board of Directors, for Gary Johnston Incorporated, voted unanimously to tip the suffering cab driver.
Silently, the cab driver conceded that I knew where I lived. He turned right onto my street instead of left.
“It’s the house beside the lane,” I said. “Go north in the lane. There is a car park behind the house where I can unload the water.”
“I’m not going in any lane! I don’t want to ruin my shocks.”
“And I am not going to carry the water from the street.”
He sighed and turned right into the lane.
When he parked, he stayed in the car while I started to unload the water from the trunk. While I was unloading, I walked to the open driver’s window and gave him ten dollars. Then I resumed unloading the water.
The fare was $7.75. The fare would have been under seven dollars if he had not started the meter while I was loading the water at the grocery store. I could hear him counting the change from ten dollars. Then he got out and approached me to hand me the change.
“What are you doing?” I said. “I thought I said that you could keep the change.”
I had not said that, but I wanted to mess with him.
“I can keep the change?”
“Yes, it’s your tip.”
“It’s my tip?”
WELL! All the anger and aggression were gone. He looked embarrassed and ashamed. Obviously, he was not expecting a tip from me. That is why he started the meter while I was still loading the water. I blew his no-tip expectation to pieces by giving him a generous tip.
I was still unloading the water from his trunk, and, lo and behold, he started to help me. He needed to work off his guilt, I guess.
When we finished unloading the water, I thanked him for his help. He did not say anything and was still looking very much ashamed. He nodded. Then he got into his taxi and drove off into the sunset.
NOTE: The sun was not setting. It was still late afternoon. But I wrote that he drove off into the sunset because it sounded like a nice way to end.