8/08/2006

 

Agendas

I think one of the worst thingsd about being poor is the loss of independence. When you have little means of your own, you're always depending on somebody else to help you through your own existence. Sometimes, those somebody elses let you down utterly. And at other times, they have agendas, experiences and levels of intelligence that are at loggerheads with yours.

For example, being still bereft of vehicle, I'm dependent on the buses and taxis around here to get most places. But the buses only travel specific routes at specific times. If I have business somewhere the bus doesn't travel, or at a time the bus doesn't travel, I have to make a choice of either not going to that place or doing a lot of walking. While it may seem that I have a choice (walking or not going at all), that choice is still being driven by GTA's agenda.

It's even worse with the taxis. Good luck getting one in Greensboro on a weekend night, or when it's raining. And for some reason I've yet to fathom, most of the taxi drivers are from Parts Unknown, and speak very broken English. We won't get into the cost; that's a rant for another time.

But even though there is more choice of destination with a taxi (within financial reason), there again you're riding on someone else's agenda. The taxi drivers around here are all about picking you up-getting you where you want to go-dropping you off-getting the money-going to the next pickup. All at the utmost speed they can muster without flipping the car over. Sometimes, they don't let little things like directions get in the way of that agenda.

Take, for instance, the...interesting ride I had last night. After doing some grocery shopping at Wally World, I called a cab to take me home (it's not too far a distance if I'm empty-handed or traveling lightly, but I had a big load to carry and the bus comes no closer than a mile and a half away.) One showed up inside of fifteen minutes. Good. I told him the address to go to and he actually understood. Good. Then, remembering that I only had a twenty dollar bill in my wallet*, I asked him if he could break it. The replay was no. Not Good. Okay, so we had to pull up at the nearest convenience store so I could dash in and buy something cheap enough to allow me to break the twenty while not dipping into my cab fare. Meanwhile, the driver was more than happy to wait, to the tune of .40 a minute, or something like that.

Anyway, with a two-liter bottle of Coke in hand, I soon got back in the cab and we took off. We hadn't gone more than three seconds away from the convenience store when the driver asked me, in some indeterminate accent if I was going to the north part of the road, or the south part. I told him north, whereupon he immediately proceeded to head for the south part. I told him north again, and he insisted, in that indeterminate accent, that we were on the north part.
(Sigh.) This guy drives a cab, and he doesn't know north from south. Son of a... Anyway, too tired to argue, I told him to simply turn onto the road and follow it till it ends (where my apartment is).

Of course, he immediately proceeds to drive past the proper turn. When I protested, he tried to make a U-turn to get back onto the proper road. Making a U-turn on this particular road is just plain suicide, day or night. Fighting the urge to smack him in the back of the head, I told him not to bother, just proceed up the road we were on until I told him to turn. Then I made a mental calculation as to how much extra this lackwit was costing me. Hmm, nearly ten bucks for a seven-buck cab ride. Worth getting him in trouble with his boss over? Maybe, but I'll decide tomorrow. I'm too tired now.

When he reached the proper intersection, I had him turn left, fully expecting him to turn right, but at least he was able to follow simple directions. In this manner, I reached the apartment in a few minutes. He told me only to give him eight dollars since he missed his turn. I was going to point out that cab rides from Wal-Mart to my apartment were usually only seven dollars, but why stick a needle in the bubble of his I'm-a-good-driver-delusion.

Besides, I was way too tired to argue. I'll get the buck back on payday. Don't spend it all in one place, bud.


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*I'd very much like for somebody to explain why ATMs and cash-with-purchase functions do everything in increments of $20. I've seen many a time in my life where I only had $10, or even $19.95 in my checking account and therefore couldn't touch any of it. Very frustrating...

Comments:
i dislike the $20 minimum too, but i've actually had $19 in my account and deposited a dollar so i could take out $20. sad, i know.
 
Most Citibank ATM's dispense $10 bills, actually... They're the only bank left doing so nowadays.
 
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