Sunday, September 03, 2017

Trial and Travel

Well, that was pretty stupid, wasn’t it?

I pulled a first-class hayseed stunt last week when I returned from my vacation in London—a move so dumb I still can’t believe it.

So this is what happened: I get off the plane at JFK after a 7-hour flight and switch on my phone to call a car service to come pick me up.

This was the same company that had taken me to the airport 9 days early so I knew I could trust them.

But the dispatcher had put this bug in my brain when I called them earlier in the week and asked for a car.

“Call us when you land,” he told me. “If the driver has to wait too long we’ll double the fare.”

Double the fare? I had run into this problem once before at JFK when a driver threatened to double my fare because I had supposedly kept him waiting too long and it took a lot of screaming on my part to turn things around.

I guess that ugly little scene was on my mind when I walked out of the terminal and was approached by this young African man. He offered to give me a ride for 50 bucks and, wanting to avoid any drama, I readily—and quite stupidly--agreed.

Yes, yes, I know, how could a native New Yorker possibly be this dumb? This was such a blatant hick reaction that I should’ve been wearing overalls and a straw hat. And I ended up getting more drama than a year’s worth of soap opera episodes.

“I’ve got to pick up some more people,” my driver said and ducked back into the terminal.

More people? This is a cab, not a Greyhound. What people are we talking about here? Convinced I’d be murdered and dumped in an empty hanger, I took a photo of the guy’s medallion and emailed it to myself so my next-of-kin could ID my killer.

It turns out this yo-yo was trolling for bodies and he had me waiting in his cab for nearly an hour before he pulled in a family of four who were quite surprised to see me in the front seat.

Abandon Ship!

“Who’s that?” the father said, speaking as if I were a wax dummy.

We take off and the traffic is horrible, the driver is blasting some hideous music that’s still ringing in my head, and finally the father gets fed up and demands the driver stop dead in his tracks and leave them all on the side of the road.

“Come on,” the driver pleaded, “I’m African, you’re African…”

The logic behind this statement escaped me as well as the guy in the back seat.

“I don’t care if you’re African,” the irate passenger said, “I don’t like how you do business.”

I didn’t like it either--and I’m not even African.

We finally got to Brooklyn, I bailed and thanked God I wasn’t floating in a river.

It wasn’t until the next day that I learned my brand, new Sapphire credit card, which I had specifically gotten for my trip to England, had been hacked by some scumbag who had used the thing to buy tickets to a British amusement park on the same day I was taking in a play in London.

And I found out my bank account had been hacked again, so nearly every night this week I was on the phone with my bank shrieking at some idiot “service” worker in the Philippines about the atrocious service I was getting.

Being Catholic I reasoned that God was punishing me for my stupidity at the airport by sending hackers to swipe my credit card. This is a staggering lapse in logic, of course, as ridiculous as trusting a cab driver merely because you both come from the same continent.

I’ve learned my lesson about getting into strange cabs and now I’m taking on the hackers. I hope my bank can do something to help me and if they can’t, they can just pull over and leave me on the side of the road.


Jay said...

Ohhh dear. Yep, rookie mistake for sure, but you're not the first, and won't be the last, to fall for it. Lucky for you that this one was just trying to make a slightly shady living! As for the credit card, I am so sorry that happened to you. I can only apologise on behalf of my countrymen - although it's quite possible that the worm of humanity that stole your details wasn't actually British, it happened here. :(

Bijoux said...

What the heck, Rob? Don't you use uber or lyft?

We had our credit card number stolen on a trip once. I suspect it was at a restaurant where they take your card to run it through. It's exhausting to deal with this crap, isn't it?

valerie said...

dang, rob. what a mess with the cab ride and your card. i'm assuming this was NOT uber, but a regular cab. horrible. i've had good service with uber. always enjoy your writing.

Rob K said...

Hey, Val, great to hear from you. No, this wasn't uber or any legitimate outfit; this was me being dumb. (Thanks for the compliment about my writing!)

Take care!

Rob K said...

@Bijoux: Normally I work with a reputable outfit, but I got dumb and lazy this time and it cost me. Sorry about your credit card issue. And you are soooo right: this crap IS exhausting!

Rob K said...

Oh, Dearest Jay, don't apologize! I'm sure the lowlifes were not even remotely British!

We're just in the grip of unscrupulous people who are preying on our need for technology. I hate them bastards, but I'm so happy I've got people like you and the rest of my blogging buddies!

Ron said...

OH.MY.GOD. ROB! After all you've already been through with your card being hacked, I can't believe you had to go through this AGAIN?!?!?

And your experience with the cab driver leaves speechless?!?! I mean, could it be that whoever hacked your account before did it again and that it wasn't the cab driver?

God, I hope you can get this sorted out; especially your bank account because it's one thing to have your credit card hacked, but when it's your bank account, that's YOUR money.

Have a great week, buddy!

Rob K said...

Oh, thanks so much, Ron. It's been such a crazy time. I had such a fabulous time in London and then I have to do deal with all this misery with the hackers. And that bonehead cab stunt didn't help things any.

I freak out every time I check my bank statement, convinced someone's cleaning me out. But this is a time to be strong and rely on support from my great friends--like you!

Take care, buddy!