10 November 2006

Airport Taxi Drivers - why I no longer tip

For the past 7 years I have taken a taxi back and forth from YVR. Twenty, maybe 30 times a year. Mostly they are non-events.

Today the skies had opened and it was swooshing down rain. Now whoever designed the International Arrivals taxi pick-up area never stood outside during one of the more common Vancouver seasons - the Rain Season. Why would someone design a roof covering with a huge gap that ensured that as one went to get a taxi or wait in line for a cab, one would not be protected?

With my help, the driver loads my bags. I get into my non-event City Taxi. He's on his cell phone immediately as I give him the address and we head off. For the full journey, over the bridge, down Granville and a right turn onto 16th he's yabbering, mumbling, speaking gibbish. The personality level of ZERO.

Aside from the fact that he's hitting most red lights, driving with one hand only and paying half attention to the road, the driving is fine.

We pull up in front of my place. I tell him I need a receipt and instead of adding my normal $2.00 tip I just round it up to the nearest amount. I pay in cash. The thought of using my credit card crossed my mind.

I get the receipt. He opens the truck. He pulls out my bags and does what every other cab driver, except for one, does. He places the three bags on the roadway (sometimes I get lucky and they actually put it on the sidewalk). He closes the truck. Gets back into his cab and drives off. Not a goodnight, not a thank-you, not even a backwards glance.

The three bags are wheeled along the sidewalk, over the short paved strip leading home and I drag them up the 7 or 8 cement stairs to my front door. I fumble for my keys in the dark. I let myself in and then get those three bags inside from the rain.

I now know why I must have tipped for the past many years - so that when the taxi driver departs he will actually say good-bye. It would be way too much to expect him to ask if he should wait so that he can see if I get in okay. And goodness forbid that he would help wheel the bags over to the bottom of the staircase.

That is why I have decided to tip on service instead of the sub-standard level that the majority of airport taxi drivers provide.

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