The scenic route...

"Ok, that's 45 another cents, 50, 55..."

The cab driver was starting to look distressed. I smiled brightly at him and shook my purse, searching for more change at the bottom.

"Oh! Here's a quarter - that makes 80 more cents. And I know I have some more change in my pocket. Just a sec."

His mouth closed in a thin line. He began to shift restlessly.

"Hey, how long is this going to take?"

I smiled again. A little more coldly this time.

"I guess after hitting TWO dead end streets and refusing to take the underpass at that traffic circle... and then there was that one detour where you made three lefts in a row... and, oh yeah, the last pass around the block while I tried to tell you to just let me out (which cost me an extra $1.25)... Well, silly me! I somehow got the impression that you have nothing BUT time to waste."

Holding his eyes in a yeah-I-dare-you-to-say-shit-stare, I slowly unzipped every compartment in my wallet, looking for his tip...


  1. My worst cab experience in DC would have to be the time I asked the guy to take me to Werder Street, which unbeknownst to me was only two blocks away. A half hour later, the African immigrant brings me to Water Street.

    Then they think they're cute for keeping the doors locked until you pay, like you're a frickin' hostage or something. That, I resent the most. Being locked inside of a cabin w/ one of those filthy animals.

  2. Ahem. Rip off artists, yes. Filthy animals? A bit extreme...

  3. When I lived in NY, I told cabbies to pause the meter when THEY made mistakes like turning on to dead end streets or failing to follow an obvious time/money saving instructions.

  4. This is actually the one problem with meters. I've had problems with the non-native English speaker cabbies. "3000 K" becomes "3000 Connecticut", etc., etc.

    When it was zones, the cabbie would sigh, make a turn and be on his way to the right destination. Now, they might play deaf until they got to the wrong destination.

  5. Ouch. You're right, Liz. Let me clarify. Cabbies, not Africans, are filthy animals.

    My bad.

  6. Your disapproval is punishment enough. :(

  7. Why the hell were you trying to tip him if he did all that wrong?

  8. This is why I avoid cabs. Although they pulled the same crap with the zone system, veering in and out of zones, etc. The only solution is to tell them exactly what route to take. And then don't tip if they refuse.

  9. Your other option is to call the DC Taxicab Commission. That will either a) make the cab driver back down VERY quickly or b) get them in a whole lot of trouble when they don't comply. In fact, the Chairman of the Commission has been known to answer his phone when you call...make you hand your cell phone over to the cab driver and personally chew him out.

    You can find his number here: http://dctaxi.dc.gov/dctaxi/cwp/view,a,1187,q,487826,taxiNav,%7C30625%7C.asp

  10. oops...or her. I shouldn't be assuming that all taxi drivers are men.

  11. Good for you Liz, someone’s got to teach those bastids.

    My worst ride: Diamond Taxi, very early morning ride from my home in NW to National Airport. The driver was Caucasian, had a thick northeastern accent, mustache and a stupid beret type hat. Anyway, he preceded to laden my ride with the most racist shit I’ve ever heard against a few minority groups. I mean we’re talking really, really offensive shit. I grew up in the Panhandle of Texas, so I've heard plenty of that….this was worse. I started to tell him to STFU but noticed he was so worked up about it all that he was spaying spittle as he yelled and several veins had popped up on his forehead. I decided to hold my tongue for personal safety reasons. When we finally arrived at the airport he again warned me to watch these minorities because they "would f**k me over" if given the chance. In a hurry because I was late for my flight, and desperate to get away from the taxi Nazi, I grabbed my change and dashed into the terminal. As I stood in the check-in line I counted the change as I put it away…..he shorted me $5. Prick.

  12. Thanks, Penny. We can always count on you to be politically correct, so long as PC skews liberal.

    It's not illegal alien; it's undocumented. The problem is that we just don't have enough document factories producing enough documents. We have a severe shortage of documents in this country. The answer is to off-shore our document production so we have a sufficient document supply for everyone.

  13. Wow, M@!

    You're so right. Nothing says PC liberal skew like giving people information that could prevent them from getting screwed.

    Nice job - you saw right through me!

  14. hurricank: I think you were getting screwed. The zone system was supposed to be point to point not every zone crossed. So, if you were in 3A and needed to go to 3C, that's 3 zones (A, B and C). He can't drive through 2A and 2B and the n 3B to rack up zones.

    Penny, Calling the taxi commissions will actually work. Either DCeiver or DCist has a story of calling the taxi commission from the back of a cab and getting the taxi commissioner himself who demanded that the cabbie present himself the next day. Of course, that was during business hours, and who knows what actually happened.

  15. Thanks, anonymous. I knew I had read that somewhere, and couldn't remember which site.

    After hours could be more difficult, but you could always get their ID number and make the call later. That's a lot of effort...so it's really up to the individual if it's worth it.

    I've also threatened to call the cops and that's worked too...to the point where I didn't actually have to call them. We came to an agreement pretty quickly when the driver realized I was serious.

  16. "Your other option is to call the DC Taxicab Commission."

    This really works?

    Very cool.

    Here's a link to their number:


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  18. Oh I pay too much for the metered cabs, Oh I pay too much in a zone system. For chrissakes people, is there any system you're not going to complain about? Perhaps we should all be given a jar of magical fairies who can wisk us away to any destination with their magical fairy dust?

    And yes, calling the Taxi Cab Commission works-

  19. you know, if you are willing to put up with some inconvenience, you can easily NEVER USE CABS. i just don't.

    buses, trains, walking, and biking.

    nothing delivers as little value for the money paid as a taxi does.

    they are idiotic ripoffs, costing a couple bucks a mile.

    plan around them and spend that money on great meals and movies. or bank it.

  20. "Oh I pay too much for the metered cabs, Oh I pay too much in a zone system. For chrissakes people, is there any system you're not going to complain about?"

    I will stop complaining when the cab prices here are comparable to chicago or new york. Cabbies here lie and cheat and make money off the tourists. I probably wouldn't mind so much if I didn't have both a serious drinking problem and a tendency to prefer to nurture said problem at bars in bad neighborhoods.

  21. @liz

    So you're all right with incompetent cabbies, as long as it's cheap?

    Why are Chicago and New York the baseline for cab prices? Why not Omaha or San Francisco?

    And whose to say that all cabbies are corrupt? Perhaps it's just the ones you frequent.

  22. I just hope when you say I prefer bars in bad neighborhooods you are not talking about Adams Morgan or Columbia Heights. I highly doubt you frequent bars east of the river, so you really have no excuse. I have lived in DC for 5 years now-moved in at 23 single female and like Karl I average one cab ride a year, usually for the emergency room or when one of my roomates is way too intoxicated to walk. As bad as the buses are, they are way better than cabs.

  23. One cab ride a year? Who are these thrifty readers?

    The last thread there were all these people saying, "I live off $23,000 a year by eschewing luxuries..." My RENT is half that. And I do NOT have a single apartment. The only way you could do it is if you didn't have student loan payments (which you do realize is, itself a pretty privileged position to be in).

    And what jobs are these, that allow you to wear crap clothes and have enough time to walk 50 minutes there and THEN 50 minutes back? I don't know anyone who can do this stuff.

    I guess maybe if I had a bike, but my first week here I witnessed a fairly grisly biker-v-cab-door accident. So I decided no on the cycling thing.

    That leaves cabs. And cabs here somehow cost 3 times as much as anywhere else.

  24. Wait, so you're taking cabs to work? This confuses me. In my world, cabs are reserved for nights when I'm too drunk/tired/averse to pouring rain to stumble my way home from the bar. If you're taking them to work on a regular basis, damn, no wonder you can't afford to live on one salary. If you live somewhere that isn't accessible to work by Metro, bus, or walking, you need to find a new place to live, frankly. And yeah, I have more student loans than probably you or anyone you know (for reals). But I never take cabs, cause, like you said, they're 'spensive.

  25. No, I meant for after-work events. Usually I actually have to leave work early to get there, and there's no way I'm walking back alone after dark.

    I honestly can't picture a way to live in this city where you wouldn't need an occasional cab. You'd have to be home cooking ramen every night.

  26. I like how Virginian cabs drive the speed limit, which is like 25 mph almost everywhere, but man, how funny would it be if you handed one of them timesuckers your GPS?