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Common Sense Corner: How patience and respect earned me $50 in tips...


By Fayez Khozindar - Posted on 15 July 2008

It started out like this: I picked a man up from a building on the north side of Berwyn and Lake Shore Drive, where the doorman helped the man into my cab by opening the door for him. After he got in he said, “Orleans and Illinois Street, please”. I glanced at the man while I was backing up onto the driveway of the building in order to go west on Berwyn. The man was wearing glasses, was in his fifties and did not look at me, possibly trying to avoid eye contact.

I usually don’t look at my passengers unless I have to, but something attracted my eyes to this man. Immediately after he entered my cab, I smelled the scent of strong after shave lotion. After driving a few blocks, I looked at the man again through my rearview mirror, this time noticing many cuts on his face. It brought me back to when I was young and always nicking myself from shaving with a blade and I knew I could tell this poor man how to get rid of the problem but, of course, I didn’t think it was the proper way to start a conversation.

In fact, I usually don’t talk unless somebody asks me a question in order to give passengers privacy and quiet time since they are sometimes tired as well. Because I stayed quiet, my guest in the backseat also did and instead simply looked out his window.

When I got to his destination, I asked where to stop to which he replied, “the church at the corner”. I stopped my cab at the curb, put my blinker on and waited for the man to pay me or get out of the cab. A few seconds passed and nothing happened. I then noticed him trying to reach for the door and immediately realized he needed help. I told him to please wait while I open the door for him. It took him a few seconds to get out of the cab but I kept the door open and continued to stand by the door.

He began to reach for his wallet in very slow motion which I then noticed the wallet shaking in his hands a lot. It took quite a long time for him to successfully open it to reach for the money inside. This is when I realized the man was suffering from the illness or disease that keeps his hands shaking when he uses them.

It took him about two minutes to reach for the money to pay the fare all the while thanking me for my patience, telling me I was very kind. I responded to him saying, “Sir, this is my job and you are welcome, it is my pleasure.” He then reached for his money again and after successfully removing one bill said, “this is for you.” I looked at it and said, “But Sir, this is a 50 dollar bill, not a 5” he responded with, ”Yes, I know, and I want you to have it”.

So there, you can draw your own conclusion from this story as to what did I do, say or not say that made that man give $50 of his good money as a tip to a cabdriver.

And as always, I want to remind everyone our new slogan in town called “take my lane, take my turn, just give me a signal”.