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February 16, 2010

If you depend on transit, occasionally, you’ll find yourself in a cab, like I did today.  I was downtown at a breakfast for the Georgia Conservation Voters (I’ll write more about that later) and clearly missed my bus.  I knew I would, but did not feel like driving down there and finding parking, when the depot is right outside of the MARTA station.  I had resigned myself to calling a cab from Arts Center to get to the office.  I really should have taken the bus to CTC and hopped a cab there, but I thought I’d get one quicker in town.  They fooled me!

But, I learned a great deal about the life of a cabbie today.  I used Atlanta Checker Cab, my cab of preference, but don’t ask me why.  I guess cause they seem old school, with their Checkers.  Anyways, I sat up front with my cabbie, and, like usual, started asking questions because this is what I do.  Perpetual three year old (can I get a WHY!?!?!?!?)  But I noticed that he had lovely colored stickers on his cab, one for January, and one for February.

“Do you have to get a new sticker every month?”

“Yes, they are from the insurance commissioner and we must have a new sticker for each month.”

“How much does that sticker cost you?”

“It costs me nothing.  It costs the company $140 and that is included with my weekly fees, but it is not itemized.”

“What are your weekly fees, then?”

“$600 for the sticker, dispatcher service, and maintenance.”

“Geez!  So how much do you clear in a week?”

“Sometimes, not even the $600.  When times are good, I can make a thousand, when not good, $400 – $500.”

So, cabbie dude works 12 hours a day and clears $600, not including gas, and there are no benefits.  This is a little over $30,000 a year, and less than minimum wage.

So now my question is, how much are you supposed to tip the cab driver?

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