In which Ottawa’s taxi system takes a page from the obscure.

Because of, uh, the nature of me, occasionally taking cabs is kind of a fact of life. Particularly when talking about not knowing exactly where you’re going after you, for instance, get yourself off the bus and pick a random direction. So to avoid a migraine, it’s taxi time. May and I took that route when we decided an evening for dinner would be the thing to do. Getting to the restaurant, no problem whatsoever. Getting back, though? If ever there was a set perfectly fit for a taxi related soap opera, we were sitting in it.

We called for Blueline Taxi, as the usual routine goes. Made the arangements to get us home, and all was well. A car showed up, dropped someone off. We hopped in, fully intending on taking that car back to our place. And we very well would have, but then that would completely and totally have ruined our cab opera and well, we can’t have that.

We just started pulling out of the parking lot, and didn’t get more than maybe 5 feet into it, when another cab pulled in beside us. He rolled down his window, and that’s about when the drama started. A little background, for clarity’s sake. Apparently, there’s a law on the books–an actual, honest to goodness city bylaw–that allows a driver to charge another with stealing his fare. It comes complete with a $25 fine and has apparently been on the books for damn near on 50 years. Also note this is the first I’ve heard of it and, well, I’ve been around the city a few dozen times.

So both cars are now sitting in the parking lot, windows rolled down. The other driver, we’ll call him Tool, is just having a gay old time calling our driver, we’ll call him Clue, out for stealing his fare. He must have spent a good 5 minutes going on about how he was asigned our call and we had to go with him. We argued. Clue argued. Repeatedly. The vehicle we were sitting in showed up first, and that’s the one we were fine with taking. But Tool wouldn’t hear it. He kept repeating how Clue was stealing his fare and he’d be calling to complain about it, yada yada blah. Eventually, we ended up switching vehicles. Partly because it was just getting ridiculous and we were really hoping to be well on our way home by now, and partly because, hey, it’d shut Tool up. Or so we thought. This is why I’m not allowed to think, you see.

Most of the way home was taken up with much of the same argument. Him explaining, yet again, that he couldn’t let Clue take his fare, and how that was his call and we were supposed to have waited for him. We, again, explained that we didn’t give a rat’s ass which vehicle took us home. Clue showed up first, so that’s who got our money. Had Tool, you know, not been a tool and showed up first, he’d of gotten our money and there’d have been no issue whatsoever. And the circle repeats. Eventually, we decide this is just getting absolutely headache inducing. We drop it, pay the tool, get ourselves inside. I called and started things rolling in the complaints department, which eventually lead to me finding out about that obscure Ottawa bylaw.

According to this bylaw, if you call a cab, you are actually supposed to wait for the vehicle specificly asigned to you to come and collect you, whether it takes 15 minutes or half an hour. Anyone else who collects you, whether they offer or you ask (for the record, we asked), opens them up to a charge of stealing the asigned driver’s fare. That charge can hit a driver for $25. Or, in simpler terms, more than what either driver was going to get paid for taking us home in the first damn place. I’d say I’m switching companies effective, uh, immediately, but since this is apparently an Ottawa thing, that won’t make much difference. But the way Tool handled himself, let’s just say switching companies still crossed my mind. And all because of a very obscure, little known and apparently little enforced city bylaw from 50 years ago. Okay, that, and a highly unprofessional tool.

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