(warning: Rant ahead. You have been warned)
So, this afternoon, I was exiting a media event in the city, and looking for a cab, along with a small group of fellow journalists. I wandered out of the event building, and spotted one of my compatriots. I asked him if this was the Taxi queue, and he said yep, but that he’s already been knocked back by one cab.
So, we waited. And waited. And a cab pulls up. With another behind it. He jumps in the first cab, only to be told no almost immediately — it’s approaching changeover time for cabs, and he doesn’t want to be stuck with a long fare. I figure he’s been waiting longer than I have, so I let him take the second cab in line… with the same results. A third cab pulls up, and he attempts to get into it… only to be pushed out once again.
At this point, I’m starting to wonder if it’s an anti-Irish thing, or if I’m going to have the same problems — after all, I’ve got a longer journey to undertake. Finally, a fourth cab pulls up — but it is, in fact, cab #1, having failed to secure a client in the meantime. Having had his patience sorely tested — and I don’t blame him — he just sits down in this cab until it takes off.
Oh well, thinks I, hopefully I won’t have to go through the same tiresome ordeal. Indeed, only a minute or so later, a cab pulls up, I tell him my destination, and we head off.
For about ten metres. It’s at this point that the cabbie suddenly decides that no, he can’t in fact fulfill the fare that he’s committed to take, and he’s going to drop me off at the nearest hotel. But, as he’s a nice guy, he’s going to “do me a favour” and not charge me for the ten metres he’s already driven me. Presumably he’s not going to stab me in the face either, just to make my day…
The cab I get into only basically agrees to take me because the guy was more or less asleep in his newspaper and didn’t realise what the time was until we were halfway across the Harbour Bridge. I’m writing this as I sit in the back, it being a bit too bumpy for more lucrative writing work, so if I do get stabbed in the face, this can be my record of events. Tell my wife I loved her, by the way.
Now, I understand that the cabs in Sydney change over at 3pm. But it was about 2:15 when we were hailing fares. I do understand the pressing need to get back to family, home and outside pursuits. What I don’t find particularly acceptable is the idea, however, that cabbies have some kind of “get out of jail free” card when it comes to working a small bit of overtime — especially when those overtime fares are healthy comissions indeed. Being able to pick and choose only the “small” fares may work for the cabbies, but it sure as heck doesn’t do any consumers any favours at all.
Next week on Alex rants, how it used to all be trees around here, and why a good bit o’ National Service would sort ’em all out. You’ll see…