Monday, October 24, 2005

On tipping

Somebody fucked up, but, thankfully, it wasn't me. This piece of work was dragged into the garage this afternoon when I was waiting for my cab.

Overall, it was a boring night. I drove around, picked people up, dropped them off, and sat at traffic lights. Apparently, people weren't in the mood to tip tonight. I guess it's time I addressed this, so here are a few helpful tips on tipping for clueless cabbers:

1. Most basically, tip like you would if you were in a restaurant. This means add about 15 to 20 percent of what's on the meter, or even more for exceptional service. This means if your fare is $15, don't just tack on a single precious dollar. Give at least two, but three or more is preferable and customary.

2. Try not to ask for a quarter back. That's just cheap.

3. If you ask your cab driver a million questions about his or her life, and he or she is nice about answering you and pretends like you're not the millionth person to ask these questions, give a little extra. Remember, most of the time we are just humoring you so that you'll give us more money. We are not necessarily driving around looking to make friends, though, if that happened, it'd be a nice bonus. However, this is a rare occurence. Driving a cab is an exhausting job, made even more so when at least half of our passengers ask us the same tired old questions night after night, expecting some sort of entertainment. A nice friendly conversation is one thing -- and that is certainly welcomed and helps us get through the day -- but being repeatedly grilled about who we are, where we come from, and why we are doing this job, well that's something entirely different. And please don't get offended if your driver doesn't want to answer all the personal questions you may be asking. We might just be too tired and bored with ourselves to be able to force ourselves to answer.

On a related note, do not ask your cab driver about the money he or she makes. We will not tell you the truth. It makes us nervous, mainly because we don't know if you're just innocently asking, or if you're trying to figure out if we're worth robbing.

4. If you need a cab to wait for you, compensate. We do not, by law, have to wait for passengers, since this means we will basically be losing money. Yes, the meter is running, but it is running at a much slower rate than if the cab was actually moving. The meter adds 40 cents for every two minutes of waiting time. This translates into $12 an hour. If we sat with the meter on for the entire 12 hour shift, we would ultimately end up paying out more money in lease fees and gas than we made for the night. Additionally, do not act like it is your god-given right to have a cab wait for you. It is not. If you ask nicely, the driver will probably do it, but don't feel entitled to it.

5. Obviously, overtipping is very welcomed. Just know that when you give even just a dollar or two more than the driver might have expected, it has a huge impact, not only financially, but mentally. I will never forget the people who surprised me with amazingly generous tips. But even just mildly generous tips have helped to revive my ever-fledgling faith in humanity. On the other hand, it's also hard to forget those who leave no tip at all.

6. If you fart in a cab, tip extra.


girlbomb said...

I'm thinking we should all chip in and buy you an ejector seat for the back of your cab.

Anonymous said...

that last tip was funny.

i was JUST wondering about cab conversations. not me talking to the cabbie, because i mostly never feel like doing this unless i am completely drunk. but more the cabbie making small talk with ME. i always wondered why they do this--out of boredom? i never even thought they were trying to butter me up to get a tip. i basically figure driving a cab must get really boring. i also sometimes think that the cabbie is slightly mentally off and that is why they are chatting with me.

i do know that a certain percentage of male cab drivers/livery cab drivers who tried to make small talk with me in the past have been trying to flirt with me. TRYING being the operative word.

Nancy said...

Ok, I usually round up the fare to nearest dollar and then add on another dollar. Chances are, if I'm in a cab, it's late and I'm most likely too tired/drunk to do math. So, that's just easier. And I started being more conscientious about being when I did some work with the NY Taxi Workers Alliance...what an education>

frostine99 said...

May I say I love this blog?

I'm with the anonymous poster before me -- I almost never feel like talking either, but I almost never get a cabbie who doesn't want to chat.

When I used to work late and took cabs fairly regularly, I often got cabbies who wanted to regale me with their sexual exploits (private parties with the wives of elected officials, says, or their prowess at oral sex). This was at a sort of anything-goes point in my life, so I listened, asked questions that would prompt the next part of the story, and tipped generously. Maybe they were angling for that tip all along!

One night I did spill my emotionally wrought guts to a cabbie who pulled over, motioned me to get in the front seat, and then held my hand while I cried. This was at the end of the anything-goes period, and I'd forgotten all about it -- thanks for reminding me. However generously I tipped, I suspect it wasn't enough.

Finally, there's a guy who drives for a car service I use often who told me that he is bored out of his mind while driving, and then played Twenty Questions with me all the way to Newark airport. No kidding! "Ice cream or cake?" "Hot dogs or hamburgers?" "Would you sacrifice six months' salary to travel in space?"

Now I always think about that guy when a driver starts to chat with me, and kind of feel obligated to keep up my end of the conversation.

M.P. said...

Okay, correction: If a cabbie starts a conversation, that doesn't mean they're just buttering you up. They're probably bored, sitting in the cab all night and just want to talk to you, have a nice conversation. What I was complaining about was when passengers initiate a conversation by asking the same questions about my life, but they won't let it turn into an actual dialogue or conversation. There's no productive, mutually entertaining exchange. They just want information about me, and expect me to provide it. On the other hand, cabbies making small talk is most likely an attempt to battle the solitude we experience. Also, if you're having a personal problem, a taxi driver will probably lend you a genuinely sympathetic ear, and not just for a good tip. I mean, we are human beings after all. And the job sort of lends itself to a certain kind of brief, anonymous, and safe intimacy between strangers that you can't really find anywhere else. Hence, "Taxicab Confessions."

Michael Simon said...

i always tip my cab drivers. Especially if my girlfriend pukes out the window and it gets on the outside of the cab. That is an instant $10 tip.

Andrew said...

Michael, What if she throws up inside the cab?

Anonymous said...

When any cab driver spends more than a few sentences talking about my clothing, asking if I have a boyfriend, asking for my phone number, etc., I have stopped tipping in this case. I explain why to them after I'm out of the cab. I have gotten screamed at for this, but in some cases I hope I've changed their behavior for future fares.

jg said...

Unless the driver's driving or attitude is awful, I figure 20% and then round up to the nearest dollar. HOWEVER, I have a medium sized dog (a 27lb Shiba Inu) and any cab driver that cheerily pulls over when I have the dog with me gets the regular tip plus $3 (more if the dog is noisy - he doesn't bark, but sometimes he whines impatiently).

I am also very conscientious about making the dog sit in the floor instead of on the seat and I wipe the seat off if the dog walks across it on the way out.

Do you think that extra $3 is enough? I know you don't HAVE to pull over for dogs.

M.P. said...

jg, I happen to be a major dog lover, so I always stop for people with dogs. By law, we are not required to stop for a person accompanied by an animal that is not in a pet carrier, unless it is an animal specially trained to help the disabled. When a person with an uncontained dog gets in, I usually just ask them if their dog is "taxi trained." I mean, I love dogs, and love getting to pet them at red lights, but I would not love it if they peed, pooped, or puked in my cab. Fortunately this has never happened, and I've met some really good dogs. I do think tipping extra for this service is a good policy, but I really couldn't say what's an appropriate amount. I guess just judge it case by case. Also, perhaps when you get into the cab, just reassure the driver that the dog won't have any accidents, and if, by chance it does, tell him you will cover the cost of cleaning (about $20 - $30, just so you know).

jg said...

oh, good idea! Snickers is definitely "taxi trained" but it never crossed my mind to reassure the driver of that (and offer to cover the cleaning if I'm wrong)! Thanks!!!

EverJack1 said...

Funny that you mentioned "Taxicab Confessions" as I was thinking about it. I watch the HBO show, and I figured that all NY cabbies have had such fares at one time or another, but you say that nothing outlandish ever happens in your cab. Hmm.... I wonder if the show is a 'setup'.


Mark said...

12 Dollars an hour waiting time?? here the waiting time is I think around 3 times that.....flagfall is A$2.70 and A$1.20 per Kilometre daylight hours and after 7pm at night till 6am next morning flagfall is A$3.70...also if you ring for a cab theres a A$1.10 on top of the meter as well though here tipping is not encouraged but it is always welcome

mamdigs said...















taxi man said...

tipping a cabbie is a must as we depend on the tips for our food and bills
most cabbies split the fare with the owners after they fill the car up with gas
and after taxes
Cabbies who chat with there fares as i do
are trying to accomplish 2 things
1 to keep you awake and in touch as to prevent passouts in the cab
2 to help break the tension
of the cab ride,I want my faresd to feel welcome and as they are with a friend who will help them get home safe.
not to pick you up
most of us are married
so please dont grab us thinking you will get a cheap or free cab ride.
always tip the driver unless he or she scares you with there driving
if that is the case speak up and let them know to slow down.
Cab driving is a very hard lifestyle to adjust to as we live the off hours,think about it when you are at the party at 3 am we are sober and working not sleeping.

Anonymous said...

no way - i've lived in nyc for 15+ years. I never tip a taxi driver 20% of the fare.

my simple rule is if it's under .50 then i round up to the next dollar if it's over .50 i tack on a dollar. so if the fare is 7.40 the driver gets 8 bucks, if it's 7.80 he gets 9.

once i got yelled out for a $4 tip to JFK and i just asked him for all my money back and he got nothing extra (other than the $50 fare) tipping is a TIP it is not required.

I tip a straight 20% at restaurants, 20% at the hairdresser and $3 for food delivery.

why should i tip a taxi driver $10 on a ride to JFK?

as for talking and asking questions to a driver? why would you want to??? i prefer they remain quiet and just drive.

i have friends who just round up the dollar no matter what... why not?

taxi's are annoying in nyc - so often they won't pick you up, leave their lights on when they're really off duty, or will refuse to take you someplace.

Nancy said...

The last poster was an absolute ass. Come on man, I don't care where you are from, tipping is a sign of respect & manners. It says I recognize you as a fellow human who has to work to survive. Only someone who has entitlement issues would ever consider themselves above showing courtesy. One always tips. If you want reasonable service, then show you are worth it. Dumb Ass.

Anonymous said...

a system where someone working hard must rely on 'charity' is wrong. hard work should be compensated in an adequate way. cabs provide a public service, and at least part of their income should come from public money, like the pay of a train driver.
in the usa people seems to have turned off their brains and accept a form of slavery as the best possible way to live. the right to live a decent life, the right to have a shelter, to have some comfort, food, etc.. is or should be a basic right for all human beings, and people should be compensated in an adequate way when they provide vital services by doing hard work, repetitive work, etc.
relying on tips is wrong. the vast majority of people in the world should stop accepting the status quo , switch on the brain, and start thinking why we are living like this? why 1 man has so much money that he will never be able to spend them, and millions of people struggle to get food on the table? it's wrong? even if you accept capitalism, free market, adam smith etc, still corrections can be introduced in the system for a slightly more balanced distribution of resources. it's not so hard! so the last, the slaves, like the writer of this blog, instead of hailing the system, embrace it, worship it and adhere to it blindly, should stop and start thinking: this is not right! I deserve better. I work hard, I want to be paid a fair share! so stop whinging on tips and start doing something to really improve your life! organize yourself. how many millions slaves are there in the usa ? how many people who must depend on the arbitrary and unreliable generosity of the customers? if all those millions united themselves, they could obtain a better lifestyle and support each other.

Ivan said...

I got attitude from a taxi driver for tipping $7 on a $29 fare. I couldn't believe it, because I am walking out of a nice office they think I am a bank?

And for real, tips are stupid. I do it because I don't want the guy to go hungry but it is a retarded system. We are not required to tip in Australia (people will if the service is VERY good) and I can't say that the service in the good old USA is any better because of the tipping culture. There is plenty to like about this country but certainly not the incessant tipping:)

Anonymous said...

I never knew a Taxi driver was suppose to be tipped...that was until one told me that they were expected to get a tip when I did not give him one. I have tipped before but only when I was going outside the city or once when I had a lot of bags. But never on a routine $10 trip. By the way this is in Boston. I just have some comments to say about this. I have a $250,00 doctoral education. I do not receive tips for ensuring my patients receive their correct medication or if I fill their prescription quickly and send them on their way. I also do not receive a tip when I recommend an OTC or herbal product to a patient and assure that it will not have any drug interactions with their current prescriptions. How about when I prevent a drug interaction when your physician prescribes 2 CNS depressants that could put you in a coma?? Nope. When I counsel you/your girlfriend about the decreased effectiveness of their oral contraceptives when they are taking an antibiotic their physician prescribed....thus helping to prevent an unwanted pregnancy? Nope. How about when I spend an hour on the phone with your insurance company obtaining an override when you misplaced your medication and saving you another $30 copay? Nope. Or giving you a few of tablets/capsules for a prescription you insist you cannot go without....yet not important enough to make sure you had refills left on. Nope.
Yet it is rude and inconsiderate for me to not tip a taxi driver for a routine ride. I am not saying I want to be tipped, I am a healthcare professional. I am simply saying that for an uneducated individual working a job that takes little skill (compared to my 8 years of post-high school education) to expect a tip is absurd.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in NYC all my life but today I was shocked that a cab driver gave me a hard time about tacking on a 20% tip. I usually pay cash but saw the credit card swiper and decided to use it and this prompts you to add tip with the starting percentage at 20%. Don't ask me what the next levels were as I thought 20% was generous considering the cab driver didn't help me with my bag in or out of the trunk. He starts going on about how long he's waited at Laguardia (hey I just spent 6 hours flying for my company but I don't bitch and moan). I was not in the mood to get into it with him but told him I thought 20% was a fair tip. Most cabbies seem to think they are entitled to a tip even if they haven't gone above and beyond driving you to your destination and few even say thank you when receiving a standard 15% tip.

Anonymous said...

i typically tip 15-20%.... but what if the ride / attitude of the cabbie was downright rude.... like a maniac driving or i signed my credit card and wanting to tip in cash.... but when he saw the credit card recepit amount he started yelling, swearing, giving me a hard time.... should i still tip? or should i just leave?

i like to tip and the respect of tipping, however if i am not getting the respect from the driver....

Ren D Santi said...

Healthcare Professional needs to find his/her own blog so s/he can stop projecting his/her dissatisfactions onto unrelated persons.
How the fuck do you know how educated or uneducated one is? You, sir or madam, must not take into account the full spectrum of cultures and economical backgrounds of the nation. FRANKLY, you are lucky you could afford a $250,000 doctoral education. It is a PRIVILEGE to be able to buy your education, your degree, and your secure status. Many, many families are not born with such indulgences inherent in their lives.
Think. Perhaps your taxi driver is working this enslaving job so that he or she may save up and PAY THEIR OWN WAY through a $250,000 doctoral education. And if your rebuttal is that you took out a loan, I will scoff at you.
Many kids are screwed by their own families awful debt and cannot even be granted an educational loan. I, myself, being of that economical background, feel strongly antagonized by human beings like you.
I thank you for your services in your healthcare profession and for going the extra lengths you do extend to your clients, but I severely scorn you for your misguided perception of this America you find so black and white.

Oh, please read this! And internalize this before you garner this hack and his blog with an apology.

And then do me one more favor. Pick up Waiting for Lefty, by Clifford Odets and just read it. I think you will empathize with Scene Five: Interne Episode.

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