Thursday, January 27, 2011

not above a twenty

This story happened some time ago, about mid-December.

I haven't told you about the creepiest fare I had lately. Some guy gets hails in the West Village, and rather than telling me exactly where he's going, he gives me directions. But he doesn't give the full directions, he gives me each direction a block in advance as if he doesn't want me to know where he's going. I try to act non-chalant about it to emphasize that really if he wished to tell me where exactly he was going it wouldn't be much of a problem. So he's already striking me as very strange, but also he doesn't seem to bad, something about him just seems like the type who's gonna fuck with me just a bit, but all and all, he's really not very threatening. He asked me if I had change of his 100 dollar bill, and he already rang the bells in my head that he wasn't so right, so I told him I didn't have change of that much. "I just started my shift," I told him. "I don't have that much. He let it go, but it worried me more and more as we got closer to his destination because I wondered how he would pay for his ride. He told me that the ride never comes above 10 dollars, and that he wouldn't pay more than that. And this was all fine with me. I wasn't trying to cheat him, and I now had this good meter that when it is stopped it doesn't continue to tick away like the one I used to have. Anyway he directs me past avenue D, and I tell him then, "don't you want to make a turn here? There are no stores this way. How are you going to change your bill?" He was falling asleep at that point, but I woke him up. And that all made me feel better about my situation, as bad folk don't usually fall asleep during an attempt of some sort of shenanigans. He told me that he wouldn't be going to a store. "Oh so you're just going home?" I asked. Yes was his half coherent mumble. So the nerves on my spine just tingled, and tingled and tingled as we drove around the projects, projects in which I was somewhat familiar with. I knew friends who'd grown up there, and I was quite comfortable with the place, but that didn't mean that some people do dumb shit there, and might even use the idea of housing projects as a threat, like by sending a novice cabby into the projects and then running out, if the cabby had any brains whatsoever, they wouldn't chase you. Anyway, so I don't know why, but I followed all his directions to a T, capital T. He asked me to pull into the parking lot even, and it was still dark outside, but I did as he told. I guess I just wanted to see how this would all go down. I saw his 100 dollar bill a few times in the mirror, I knew he had it, but it wasn't worth taking. The larger the bill the greater chance of counterfeiting. Ripping off a cab driver by using counterfeit money is the safest way to take all of a cab driver's money, and the safest way not to get caught.

He gave me a big smile and opened the door, after I waited a minute for him to pay me. He didn't. So when that door opened and the dome light went on my passive aggressive dominance took over. I put the gas pedal to the floor, and gave the rear wheel by his foot a good spin-out. He was awake now. "What the fuck are you doing man?" He asked me.

"You have to pay me before you get out of the cab," I told him. from that point we had a discussion about trust and so on and so forth. He said I was nuts if I thought he wanted to get arrested. I told him I didn't want to call the cops either, and I showed him my phone which had the number pre-dialed on the screen. I'd dialed the number about 10 minutes ago and was only waiting for the moment of absolute fear to hit the call button. I even counted all my money to show him that I didn't have change of his 100. I did so much explaining that I genuinely believed myself. It wasn't until a half hour later that I realized I had 2 more 20's in my back pocket. But even if I did take that 100 dollar bill, I would've had to waist 30 minutes driving to my parents' house nearby and picking up a whole new wad of cash to make change for my new passengers. The law stipulates the cab drivers are required to carry change of a 20 dollar bill, there is no requirement to have change for anything higher. And besides, he was acting weird all throughout the ride, and I figured maybe he was even counting on my fear to perhaps get away with a free 10 dollar ride. So we agreed to drive him to the pizza place where he'd have my money, if I waited. Of course I waited, and he showed up with the money, including a dollar tip of all things. Surprise, surprise. See the fare came out to 9 dollars, and like 20 cents. I offered the dollar back to him since he was so negative towards me, but he refused to take it. I think over all he respected me for my job, and he knew that if the rolls were reversed he would've done the same, or he would've ended the ride a long time ago. I doubt that he actually got change for that 100 at the pizza place. he probably had the two fives that he gave me the whole time.

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