Thursday, June 21, 2007


I may have to do it; institute a policy I'd rather avoid. I've been told by many drivers that, after dark, I should require payment up front from black passengers and if I pick them up from less than nice neighborhoods I should always require up front money.

I really don't want to do this, it seems so rude and honestly it seems wrong to have one policy for one group of people and another for others. It seems wrong but... I have been stiffed less than 10 times since I've been driving a cab, and every one of those people who didn't pay was black. I guess it could be a coincidence; it's a pretty small group of people, but the fact is that of all of the cab drivers I've talked to... it is pretty much never anyone but the black customers who are going to stiff you.

And the fact is that most black customers pay their fare. I've been driving for a year and a half and I've been stiffed fewer than 10 times... I guess you could say with those odds I shouldn't worry about it and just deal with losing a few bucks every so often. Well you could say that but 1) I hate the idea of accepting that its going to happen, and 2) With gas at nearly $3 a gallon, I can't afford to lose that money... I'm barely making anything as it is.

grrr... I hate this. What can I do? I could demand up front payment from everyone, just to be fair, but there is a biiiig problem with that. People are offended by that demand, and I don't blame them, and they usually will not tip if you ask for payment up front. and... this is so politically incorrect to say... since 95% of black passengers do not tip anyway, we don't lose money by asking for up front payment.

So many stereotypes in this post. I know it's bad to generalize and etc... but the thing is that I am only reporting my honest experience with you. Yeah, it's a stereotype that black people are more likely to not pay than other races... but (in St. Louis, at least) it is also the truth. Yeah, it's a stereotype to say that 95% of black customers do not tip... but the fact is that I am probably being generous by saying 5% do tip (In contrast to 95% of white customers who do tip)... though I can say that, for some reason, Indian passengers are unlikely to tip (particularly South Indian) too.

so... I'll end up doing this, imposing this rule, and hating having to do it. The truth is, though, that I can't afford not to and I'm really tired of being stolen from.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


in the past two days I have had two customers who I really remember.

The first was a guy I picked up in a pretty bad neighborhood (since the summer slowdown I have to work in places I normally wouldn't think of going... Eagerly awaiting August). He was pretty nice but he spent the whole trip talking about all the horrible things going on today. What I remember most is how convinced he was about the hopelessness of the world (and how much this depressed me).

Last night there was a terrible shooting on the same block I picked him up on. Some people pulled into a vacant lot across the street from a home and shot (automatic guns) into the porch. They say it is gang related... sadly, there were small children on the porch. Also, there have (in the last week) been five murders in a small township neighboring my own. This is an extremely strange thing, I live in a very safe part of St. Louis County, and many people are nervous about it... well the guy lives in a bad neighborhood, grew up in bad neighborhoods, and was telling me about this stuff and more. It is so depressing. This is why I don't watch news :)

The last one was by far the worst; a female customer (couldn't have been more than 20) and her three children call for a ride at 1 in the morning. It was ok at first, but then she started talking about how bad it was to raise kids and then her 4 year old daughter randomly started talking about kissing her doll's "booty" and other private parts and making very clear and unmistakable noises to accompany the monologue. I've known people who think "kids will be kids" about stuff like this... two things I have to say about it: 1) her mother did not in any way respond to this and seemed unconcerned (and as if this were normal conversation for a 4 year old) and 2) how does a four year old come to know about such things? One of the major signals of sexual abuse in young children is early sexualization and sex play with toys and other kids... I'd say 4 is pretty darn early. I can hope that the actual situation is that this child has just seen this (though I can't say that sits well with me either)... I think that's the belief I'll adopt on this one.

The thing is that no matter what I choose to believe (though in actuality I will likely just forget this) that little girl is probably living in a situation that is depriving her of a lot of opportunities in life. It is so easy to worry about stuff like that. To see careless parenting (which this woman appeared, for several reasons, to be) and all of the horror in the world and wonder why we even hope that things will work out, that there is any chance to live a good life, that it's possible to raise healthy and well-adjusted children in such a world... It would be easy to go down that road and, to be honest, it becomes something I must be ever-vigilant about. I do see a lot more ugliness than I would in most any other profession... the lucky thing is that I am generally quite adept at ignoring ugliness and daydreaming away harsh realities that I cannot change :)