The above photos courtesy of Danny Ponomar at

Monday, September 8, 2008

$175 Out of Town Fare

I got a call to a gas station at 12:15am Saturday night. I arrive and this young man in a security uniform gets in the cab. In fact I remember specifically that he was in a XXXXXX Security uniform. He tells me he needs to get to Claresholm. I asked the dispatcher for the flat rate and he told me it was $175. I informed the guy that I needed the money upfront before I would take him there.

He tells me that he was in a car accident and the police had his vehicle towed and that he had forgotten his wallet in the car. I don't remember what I was thinking at this point but he made it quite clear that he had to get there. I asked if anyone he knew would give a credit card for me to pre-auth. He said his dad would and began calling him. He was speaking Arabic or something so I really do not know what he was saying. I gave him a pen and he writes down the credit card number.

I tried to process the card but it came back as invalid. I tried this same process with another card number with the same result. I should have known at this point that something was fishy. He continued talking with his dad or whoever it was on the phone and he seemed very relaxed. I think that because he was so relaxed it made me feel relaxed and that led me to make a nearly costly mistake.

We sat in front on the gas station for more than 20 minutes. Because the guy was so relaxed, and sober, I decided I would take the risk and drive him to Claresholm. This is something that I have never done before and if the payment was not received on the other end of the trip it would be a huge loss for me. Not only would I have to pay $91 out of my own pocket to the taxi company, I also would have to pay for the gas to get there and considering it was Saturday night at 12:30 I would miss much of the bar rush. I decided against my better judgement that I would take that risk.

I told the dispatcher I was taking him and off we went.

Once we finally got to Claresholm he tells me that his brother is working at the XXXXXX Convenience store and that he would pay for the trip. As soon as I stopped the car at the XXXXXX he bolted. He started running across the street. So many things were running through my mind at this moment. I was pissed right off and never should have trusted the fucker. My wheels were immediately screeching out of the gas station and I drove down the wrong way of the main street in town in hot pursuit of this piece of shit. Once there was a break in the median I got onto the right side of the road he was already across. I never let him out of my sight and caught up to him quickly. I was not about to drive back to Lethbridge without at least a pursuit, some action, maybe even some violence.

He sees that I am right behind him and starts running the other way. I pull a u-turn and had to get back on the main road. This time there was traffic and I had to wait for a semi and another vehicle to pass before I would make the left hand turn. With my heart racing, the tires screeching, and the engine roaring I was back in pursuit. He proceeded down an alley and I was right behind him when he suddenly gave up and put his hands on his knees briefly and then kept walking slowly down the alley.

I was irate and for a split second I considered hitting him with the car hard enough to knock him to the ground so I could get in a couple punches and get him into the trunk of the car. Man that seems like such a good idea after the fact. I pulled myself together and realized that was going to be my last option. Because I was already on the phone with the police I was trying to describe the best I could where I was. The guy gave up running and I pulled up beside him and gave him a piece of my mind. An RCMP officer responded in record time.

When I mean record time I mean record time. If you read this post it took the Lethbridge City Police 45 minutes to respond when the police station and downtown core were only 30 seconds away. The RCMP officer in Claresholm responded within 30 seconds. I was very impressed.

I informed the officer what happened and confessed that I was an idiot to take the guy without money upfront and the officer put the guy in the back of the police car. While he was in the police car not more than 2 minutes later a XXXXXX Taxi pulled onto the scene. The driver got out and asked how much his brother owed. I said he owed me $175. Before I could finish my sentence the money was in my hand. He did not count it in front of me. I counted it and it was all there. The officer asked me if I was satisfied. I said I was and thanked the officer and the other cab driver.

I was soon back on my way to Lethbridge with the cash in my pocket and the experience of knowing why I always collect money upfront for out of town trips. I was eager to get back to Lethbridge in time to catch the end of bar rush. I genuinely believe that he had previously arranged with the other cab driver that I would be paid but decided he was going to bail on me anyway. My heart was still racing and the event was quite an adrenalin rush.

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