Thursday, January 29, 2009

Paying for Other People's Mistakes

As much as I really wanted to work yesterday because I need the money, I'm glad that weather pretty much kept me at home all day. It was a well-deserved day of bumbling around the house (again) where I watched alot of Law & Order on tv, played quite a bit of Scrabble on Facebook and downed several bowls of Cheerios. Big day, huh? Oh... I also added a new item on my ETSY store, that being a special deal on any three old full color Action Geek 'zines. AND... the last of four Stereolab CDs arrived in the mail, used, courtesy of

But as for the title of this blog installment... I went to the cab lot a little early yesterday and was surprised to see my cab already there waiting for me. I loaded my gear in #89, parked my car and then went in to pay my waybill. There was a long list of names on the whiteboard, mine included, and a message that anyone on this list couldn't do any work until they saw Maggie or Stella in the office. Well, both were present and I asked what I'd done this time, semi-jokingly.

A little explanation... There are things in the taxi business known as CHARGES. These are taxi fares that are paid for by a charge account attributed to an insurance company or a hospital or a business or an individual. When someone sets up a charge account with the cab company, they are given an account number and they set up terms with the cab company regarding how much their fares will be. So, if I'm told to pick up Joe Shmoe at UMass Hospital on Lake Ave. at the Emergency Room on a 429 / run the meter, then I pick up Joe Shmoe, turn on the taxi meter, deliver Mr. Shmoe to where he has to go, shut off the meter and (when asked) tell the dispatcher how much the charge came to. There are some charges that are flat rates, meaning that I don't run the meter, but just take down the dollar amount that the dispatcher tells me to. These charges are subtracted off of my lease for that night. And just to make sure the point is clear... I WRITE DOWN EXACTLY WHAT THE DISPATCHER TELLS ME THE CHARGE AMOUNT IS.

So... I had to see Maggie about "corrections" on past waybills... amounts on charges that were inaccurate... amounts that invariably were lower than what I had gotten from the dispatcher and had written down clearly. Now, I OWE THE CAB COMPANY FOR THESE INACCURACIES. That's insane. They had about ten or so waybills with yellow highlighted changes, some of which I could dispute, but I ended up owing $24, $20 of which I actually had in my pocket, but that was about it! Maggie tells me something like "well, sorry Doug, but if we (the cab company) aren't getting paid the full amounts of these charges then how can we pay you the full amount of these charges". I rebutted that I had done my job and accurately wrote down what the dispatcher had told me and did my part of the job, but in the end, I end up having money taken away from me just the same because SOMEONE SCREWED UP.

Either I was given the wrong info in the first place OR... the dispatcher was given the wrong information OR... the account holders renegged on their deals and basically said, NO, this is what we're going to pay. Regardless, I did my job and now I end up paying for someone else's mistake and I think that sucks...

This happens all the time. One of the major reasons why WE as a world are in such a financial dilemma is because we are paying for other people's mistakes.

People were given loans for homes that they couldn't afford (multiply that times millions) and now banks and lending institutions are being "bailed-out" with collectively OUR MONEY.

People can't afford their own health insurance in Massachusetts so the governor sets up a state-mandated health insurance program that we ALL PAY FOR whether we like it or not. My insurance was cancelled a few months ago because the insurance program is fucked up, I can't even reach them by phone without spending an inordinate amount of time on the phone on-hold waiting waiting waiting. I tried e-mailing them and they just told me to call them, not e-mail them. And now I will be penalized financially for NOT having insurance because I can't get through to the insurance program that I pay for in the first place. Meanwhile, I give cab rides to people ALL THE TIME whose rides are paid for my this very same state-mandated health insurance program. AND, the state of Massachusetts can't afford this state-mandated health insurance program anyway, BUT like everything else, we keep it going just the same, keep paying for a broken machine that digs us all deeper in debt.

The BIG DIG project in Boston... huge amounts of money wasted on a system of tunnels and roads that, in the end, are faulty, in need of further improvements & repairs and that I rarely ever use and now... Mass Pike tolls are going up and / or gas taxes are going to be hiked to help pay for OTHER PEOPLE'S MISTAKES.

I have no problem paying my real estate taxes through my mortgage to help collectively keep the City of Worcester afloat. I'm all in favor of my tax money going towards services that we all collectively utilize, like emergency services, law enforcement, public works, trash pickup, etc., but somewhere along the way it's got to end. We are paying too much to bail out other people for their own stupidity. Where's that island I can move to?

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