Some people thrive under pressure. Others downright need it. Neither describes me. Perhaps I’m in the wrong profession. But I loathe being in a rush. Which I now am because the train I was on stopped for an extended period of time. No explanation for this, as is the usual. It’s a dark tunnel, and announcements are rarely, if ever made. I’m outta here when we get to the next station. Often when there’s one delay, more follow.
As soon as I’m topside I call a taxi. According to GPS it’s only three minutes away. But it doesn’t move for five. And doesn’t get to me for another ten. Somehow this driver still has a perfect five point rating. Never seen that before. I take another slug out of a flask as I wait impatiently.
A Prius finally pulls to the curb silently. I go to get in the back, noticing a man sitting in the front passenger seat. This is not a carpool. But no time to split hairs. Before I can close the door he introduces himself as the driver’s husband. On top of that, they have the nerve to tell me they were dropping off his truck at the shop. That’s while I was waiting. Deduct one point.
We start in the wrong direction, then begin fighting traffic going back the right way. The front seat is expressing its dislike of having to go downtown. Maybe the wife is a new driver on the app. I’m getting the sense she had to convince this Neanderthal to let her take the job. Make some extra money. As long as it doesn’t interfere with his business was obviously the stipulation. What a prick. In any event, I’m starting to think they don’t know how this is suppose to work.
Additionally, they’re following the suggested routes way to closely. The directions they’re using aren’t accounting for traffic. We keep going down fairly congested streets. Until we turn, onto other gridlocked streets. Our attempts at polite conversation have ceased. They’re speaking in hushed, concerned tones in the front seat. I’m checking the time every thirty seconds.
We make another of many turns, and we’re finally moving at a decent clip. This leads us to a parkway. We’re almost to my destination finally, and I’m somewhat relieved. Until we continue around the parkway, moving in the wrong direction again. Now we’re heading away from downtown, and there’s no exit. No way off this track. Deduct one point.
I’m doing everything I can to not lose my shit. I nearly empty the flask, which garners a look from the driver in her rearview. More hushed tones. Then she tells me she’s ending the fare, but will try to get me back to where I was going off the meter. Nice enough, but that won’t make up for all the incompetence. And I know a little something about incompetence.
I’m still running later than I already was. Plus I still have to pay for this trip. A trip where they were going the wrong way half of the time. But it’s not about what the fare will cost me. It’s the bonus, and perhaps any earnings at all on this delivery. Not to mention that all the stress from this runaround will require the purchase of a second pint of my choosing.
I get out in the middle of the street and start walking. We were close enough to an intersection, and it was a red light. They were attempting to turn left through heavy traffic. Would’ve taken forever. Several cycles through the green, yellow, and red at least. I’ve still got six blocks to go, but I’m moving much faster than that ride was. Deduct one final point.
All things considered, I think I’m being generous with my rating. I know they need to maintain a certain level of customer satisfaction to continue driving an unlicensed taxi. And I wasn’t trying to ruin anything for them. But you do have to earn it. I should know, dealing with a similar situation myself everyday. I’m not the one holding them responsible.
When I make the delivery, it’s to a small business owner. I’ve made deliveries to this building once or twice before. I’m getting the sense he remembers me. Or maybe I seem familiar. Can’t say quite the same for him. He tries to tell me I’m late, and the charges will be credited back to him. I explain the policy of our same day delivery. Unfortunately I know it backwards and forwards because of scammers like this. I mean, I get it. He’s probably doing deals all day. Having to interact with one vendor or another. Some certainly have more scrupules than others. It has become like a game to him. One that he plays day and night. You’ve got to keep looking at the angles. Like in billiards.
Turns out one of his delivery trucks, a large semi trailer, got stuck sideways on the street. I couldn’t care less. He offers me a drink, probably just to listen to the rest of what seems like bullshit. I manage to decline, but he continues on nonetheless about how this truck had to make like an 850 point turn, which screwed up traffic everywhere. A new or inexperienced truck driver. It was an expert turnaround that was needed. I want to ask if he’s sure it was a truck and not a Prius. But I just nod along, then start walking towards the exit while still making eye contact. He follows me outside. I’m waiting for a pause. Any break to say “Okay, see ya.”
When that doesn’t happen I pull out my phone. Going into my settings, I change the ringtone so that it makes noise. “I’ve gotta take this. Better luck next time,” I say, holding up the phone for reference. He waves me off. That did the trick. I can’t find the nearest liquor store fast enough.