Monday, November 14, 2005

Quarter back

Apparently I'm not the only one this happens to. I was amused to read this in today's New York Times Metropolitan Diary:

Dear Diary:

As a longtime taxi driver and avid opera buff, I always enjoy driving customers to Lincoln Center. On a recent rainy evening, a fashionably dressed Upper East Side woman hailed my cab and asked to be taken to the Metropolitan Opera. I asked her what opera she was going to see, and we began a lively discussion. This well-heeled passenger asked me if I attended the Met regularly. I informed her that I rarely go any more because the tickets are too pricey on a taxi driver's salary. She replied: "Well, I agree with you about how expensive the tickets have become. Even though I can afford it, I am very discerning about which performances I attend. My box seat is costing me around $300, and a Champagne dinner at the Grand Tier Restaurant will be close to $100."

When we arrived at Lincoln Center, she told me how much she enjoyed the ride and that I was a great cabdriver. The meter read $6.70 and she handed me $8. I thanked her profusely, thinking she intended for me to keep the change.

She then said, "I'd like a quarter back, please."

As I drove away, I wondered if that quarter was going to help pay for that $300 opera ticket!

Davidson Garrett

I always wonder what these people are gonna do with that quarter, make a fucking phone call? I've been considering carrying around pennies and giving them out in 25-cent batches when these rich cheapskates want their precious little quarters back. And it's weird, because it really only ever seems to be people with money who do this. No regular working person would ever be so petty about some change. And if they were, it'd be excusable, because they're NOT RICH. The problem is that rich people probably don't even remember what a penny looks like. I guess it's up to me to remind them.

23 comments:

mooiness said...

Giving out pennies is a good touch. Heh.

But yeah why quarters? Surely it's not for a phone call? Don't rich ppl have cell phones anyway? :)

Anonymous said...

I understand your point of view. But I would ask why you feel you have the right to decide who can and who cannot afford $0.25. While it may seem selfish, it is just as selfish to ask someone to give you money because you think they need it less than you. There are only two people that spend my money....me and Uncle Sam.

Julia said...

Hey there! They mentioned your blog on Metro yesterday so i came take a look and i actually read the whole thing (instead of studying i must add)! I'm from France but currently in Boston and the NYC yellow cabs are really part of the "American dream" (how cheesy does that sound?) so it's really fun to hear about how it it "in real life"!

As for the pennies, seriously you should do it...and then take their picture!

Rich said...

I've been reading your blog since it was linked on Gothamist.
I love it, keep it up.
I Don't have a clue as to why they would want a quarter back. How pathetic. Change is such a pain in the ass anyway.
I tip the coffee jox more than that by percentage and never bat an eye at it.
They certainly don't risk their lives serving me like a hack could.

I'm most surprised somebody is whinning about telling them how to spend their money. I don't think anyone was doing that, just pointing out how paltry asking for a quarter back seems.

Take more pictures!

PS. Maybe you'll pick my wife and I up someday. You can keep the change then.

fultonphishmonger said...

hey if some fare annoys you and they want Grand Central Terminal, take them to Grand Central Station (The post office)

jennie said...

My building laundry room takes quarters only; no change machine. I need about twenty quarters a week, so I grab 'em like gold. But it seems unlikely that this is her reason.

My feeling is, if I can't afford a 20% tip, I can't afford a taxi.

Anonymous said...

Your blog rocks M.P.! Have you ever considered getting your CDL and driving a tractor trailer? Local or regional driver,the money is greater than driving a taxi. Full benefits also. There are around 200,000 female truck drivers out there,you would make a very good one. You need to have a good pension plan(401k,Roth Ira).

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed visiting this Blog. I am a veteran cabdriver in Toronto, Canada. I loooooove this job. I can't understand how someone can be a truck-driver. Being on the road all alone and no one to talk to all day sounds like a torture! Cabdriving in big cities is very exciting and dangerous. Kudos, cabdrivers!

Anonymous said...

now that is ridiculous. i too have noticed that richer people tip less, in my limited experience. it's weird. i tend to overtip so that i am not seen as a "typical black woman" since we are perceived to be one of the groups that give the lowest tips.

to the poster Jennie-- the thing is-- you never know exactly how much your cab fare is gonna be, so how can you really estimate 20% over? basically, sometimes you have the tip, sometimes you don't. tip what you can (not advocating skimping on the tip, just saying that that shouldn't prevent ANYONE from taking a taxi)

dan said...

pennies or a personal check. "not carrying change" and having to give it via a personal check might actually be amazing.

Anonymous said...

that's interesting, i got my post erased, perhaps it's because I disagreed with the owner...
well nothing else to say about the tipping thing other than It's a shame my post with no offensive or anything but my sincere opinion was erased. it's life, we ignore what we don't want to hear or debate.

Anonymous said...

MY APOLOGIES, it was I who wrote in the wrong comment section.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you get tipped more, on average, as a female cabbie?

jayKayEss said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jayKayEss said...

Isn't the first rule of being rich and elegant never to discuss money? I'm surprised she blabbed about her $300 box seats and $100 champagne dinner. She's probably just a middle-class yuppie who's faking it.

Anonymous said...

The money is their problem not ours.

Lynn said...

I deal with this shit as a waitress all the damn time, waiting tables on the Upper West Side. We always get people in fur coats who tip 10% or less, and it drives me absolutely nuts.

I had this woman pay for a $12.00 lunch with a $100 bill (I know because being her waitress, I had to take her money up to the counter for her).

She had also clearly just had a nose job, which I'm sure set her back a few thousand dollars. She obviously wasn't hurting for cash.

You know what she tipped me? A dollar. And no, she didn't get bad service. How do you do that kind of thing and not go straight to hell?

I believe in solidarity. I hope I get in your cab one day, so that I can tip you extremely well. :)

Anonymous said...

The richer they are the less they leave as a tip, hey... maybe that's why they are rich! I actually like waiting on a big middle class families with kids or just the average joe or jill because they not only tip well but are usually nice and not bad to wait on. It's the suits that get to me with their big jobs,squeeky wallets, and better than you attitudes.

Keith said...

I think that is just how they got so rich...

Azimuth said...

I'm middle class, have a math degree, & try not to go below a 15% tip. But there is something surreal about making all customers do arithmetic on-the-fly, in the backs of cabs and in dimly lit restaurants, to try to make up for the fact that the agreed upon posted prices don't *actually* yield sufficient pay!

It doesn't have to be this way. Tipping can and should be symbolic, not economically essential. People who tip only 10%, or only one dollar, are acting as if the current system in the U.S. is more rational that it actually is.

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Anonymous said...

Those cheap bastards u shoul slap them

Gilighan Qabi said...

When I get a passenger like that, my first reaction is to just hurl a dollar back at them and say "I don't carry quarters. Don't worry about the tip", while thinking "please just get out so I can be available for someone a little more sensible". Of all the places you can go, if the quarter(s) for a specific errand, don't do it in a cab. Don't the sidewalk fruit vendors always have too much change on their hands?"