Cabbie knows best?

by Heidi on July 28, 2008

Before you become a cab driver in DC you take some bullshit class at the University of the District of Columbia for a few days, exchange some dick-jokes and you graduate so basically you learn nothing. I don’t care what they say, but cab driving is one of those professions that you really can’t benefit from classroom training. You have to figure it out on your own on the streets, and if you are a smart driver it may take three to five years until you start mastering your shit and start making cash without slaving 16 hours a day.” -[Diaries of a Mad DC Cabbie]

I thought about this, something I had read to Fiancé earlier that day, and laughed as I thought about the trials and tribulations of becoming a cabbie. For a moment I felt sorry for cabbies. They deal with a lot of bullshit, and despite the bad cab experiences of my own that I’ve had, I still feel bad because despite any attitude I might cop with them? There’s someone out there stiffing them on tips, and copping an even worse ‘tude.

But Saturday night? Topped the cake in my book of bad cab experiences.

I met up with Melanie in Dupont along with one of her pals, and Fiancé. It was a nice Saturday night out, we had put the pup in a half day at her kennel so she’d run around and be all tired so by the time we got home, cleaned up and ran out the door to return the zipcar 1.2 minutes late, I was worried we’d be late.

Au contrare my friends, we were…less than five minutes late and arrived before her :) Kudos to me who is chronically late.

Anyhow so we had a nice dinner, some dessert, some drinks, good conversation, Melanie is absolutely a lovely gal and hopefully sometime in the next year or so (aka after we get a car) we’ll road trip down to hang out in Nashville.

So we decided around midnight to split ways, and given the touch and go-ness of the metro that late at night, we decided to hop a cab since pup was getting to her time limit of being aloneness.

Didn’t take us too long in Dupont to grab a cabbie. Was confused wihen he

1. didn’t take mass ave all the way to union station and then pop across to SE over near Stanton Park. It’s always the most direct route, unless of course you get on the highway over near like…6th? Somewhere over there past the convention center.

2. He went an odd way, cut down Penn towards the capitol, then went down (this was after repeating our streets three times, I like to clarify which quadrant because in the past we have almost ended up at our cross streets in NORTHEAST which is greatly different than our humble capitol hill neighborhood in SOUTHEAST. Not nearly as…dare I say…ghetto?)

3. As i see our meter running up, I’m thinking to myself, this guy is either screwing us because he wants more money, or honestly doesn’t know where he’s going. Trying to get to I street from SW is nearly impossible. Not to mention it’s one way the wrong way when coming from NW, but going down in SW near Federal Center SW? That’s just downright STUPID.

4. so fiancé finally speaks up, the guy takes us behind the house office buildings, we forget that we run into Penn at 4th street on NC ave, so the guy gets confused again. We’re a mere four blocks from home but sweet jesus, it NEVER costs more than $15 (including tip!) to get from Dupont to Capitol Hill.

Why our trip involved Southwest, a dead end, and a trip in almost EVERY quadrant? (sans NE though we were fairly close) I’ll never know. I’ve had a problem with the zones v. meter debate. I think meters make sense. No one gets screwed. Well, theoretically, if the cabbie knows where the eff he’s going he doesn’t get screwed. But I don’t know about you but I didn’t understand the whole zone fare system. I didn’t even try. I knew zone 1 and that was about it.

But really? This is crap man. I know it doesn’t cost $16 to get from Dupont to Cap HIll, only if you’re an idiot who doesn’t know his quadrants or cross streets should it cost that much.

What it really comes down to is that the guy needs a map. I didn’t need the quickest way home, but unnecessary detours was a bit much. Even for the most tolerable of riders.

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  • notsojenny

    that’s the nice thing about taking a cab when you’re a tourist… you have no clue when you’re being driven all over BFE instead of just going straight there.

  • Dana

    i hate Cab Drivers…. they really stink!!

  • BG

    I HATE HATE HATE DC cab drivers with a passion. They’re not nearly as interesting, polite, or well-versed on the city as NYC cabbies. Of course, all of them are electrical engineers by trade and have PhDs in US Government…

    I’ve been thrown out of more cabs than I can count…for what? Trying to get from downtown to Silver Spring; simply because it’s ‘too far to go,” and they couldn’t get any other fares during the 15 minutes that it takes to get back.

    I hate DC cabbies.

  • Rightmyer Rants

    I can honestly say, I’ve never ridden in a cab! What can I say, they don’t let me out very often!

  • Shannon

    Ha ha ha…just a few weeks back, I had a cabbie attempt to convince me I live in the Barracks Row 7-11, and that he was not, in fact, lost. It took me an HOUR to get home from Cleveland Park.

    DC is not that confusing. It’s a quadrant system – if I give you the address, cross street and quadrant, the cabbie ought to be able to handle the rest.

  • IMGoph

    sure, you can say ‘ghetto’, but it comes across with a bit of a racial tinge, just so you know.

  • amandabtv

    This happened to me all the time in LA. Somehow, after living there 2 months, I knew my way around more than 50% of the cab drivers. Usually when they went the wrong way and rung up the meter, I just called them out on it, and they admitted to being lost and gave me a pretty steep discount. It’s the least they could do for making a 10 minute ride take 35 minutes.

  • Dolce

    I made the mistake one of renting a car when I was in D.C. BIG MISTAKE. I was suppose to drop off my cousin at Dulles for a flight to France and got so lost I thought he was going to miss his flight. Luckily for him when he went to check in the flight wasn’t until the next day.


  • Melanie

    Aw, thanks for the sweet words… I also had an absolutely lovely time and was so glad to get to know you a bit in person! Sorry to hear you had some drama ending the evening.

  • dc_publius

    The zone system screwed cabbies a bit, but it was definately very beneficial to the riders. I have no idea why people became convinced that the fare system will be cheaper.

    I take cabs pretty often, and I’m seeing more crazy slow routes as a result. I adjust my tips accordingly. I really liked the zone system because it was always in the cabbies best interest to get you somewhere as quickly as possible. It is the opposite now – it’s in their best interest to keep you in their cab as long as possible.

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