Sitting last night in Pearson airport, with five hours left before my flight. The Royal York was not able to let me have a later checkout, so I figured I may as well make the always-interesting taxi ride over here early with lots of room for error and drama. Could get as much work done here as there, after all.
And interesting it was. This time, I got a middle aged Chinese driver who seemed ill prepared to be servicing business travellers between the Royal York and the airport. We had a good long debate on whether the fare would be a flat fee or on the meter. Having made the trip several times in the past few years, I know it should be a flat fee, around $50 or $55. I finally got him to agree that it would be a flat fee of $55, but he continued to keep the meter running anyway. WTF?
He also insisted that I had to pay cash. I said I had none, that I had to pay by credit card. “No, I drive you bank machine.” Alarm bells! This was the same scheme I was suckered into upon arriving in Madrid years ago, when I did not have the good sense NOT to get into an unmarked taxi, and was swindled royally. Fool me once … is enough. I raised my voice and demanded that he take me right back to the hotel immediately. He backed right down, mollified, and told me he had to find a buddy driver to get a Visa machine from. With the meter running the whole time, of course. Long story short, we got the machine, he got me to the airport, and with good traffic conditions, he shut off the meter as soon as he realized he would make more money under the flat fee option. He got his $55 on Visa, and I even gave him his tip, to boot.
Why does it always have to be so strange with Toronto cabbies? The last time I came to this city, I got an elderly driver who I’m sure had to have been in advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. He COULD NOT sit still, and he could barely keep hold of the steering wheel. He shuffled and sighed, wheezed and wriggled, and fidgeted and cursed. We were caught together in a traffic jam for nearly two hours together, the traffic on that Saturday afternoon “worse than he’d ever seen”. Great. I was petrified, envisioning a scenario where he had a heart attack and I somehow had to maneover through highway gridlock to save him. Thank God we made it to the hotel. Although he gave me his card with his personal cell number, entreating me to ring him for the ride back to the airport for “a good deal”, I conveniently misplaced it into the recycle bin soon after arriving in my room. Being in Toronto is dramatic enough without the added worry of whether my driver and I will actually make it to our destination, without a fist fight or a health emergency.