Am in London and just taken a black cab back to the hotel.
The fare was £11.60 (that’s about £10.90 on a ‘made to wait for the bendy bus’-adjusted basis, allowing for the extra time you have to give the driver to work out that…yes..your bus is quite long and…nooo…the back bit doesn’t follow the line of the front bit when you turn tight corners. Come on Boris,hurry up and get rid of them!) and I gave the driver £15 and said “give me one back”.
My usual thought process is to add 10% onto the fare as a reasonable tip, although today, for whatever reason, I thought ‘hey, make it a bit more’. We aren’t yet at the stage in this country where tipping becomes expected (unlike in New York where cabbies will come running down the street after you with an axe if you don’t tip them enough) and so it is appropriate to be able to give an amount that you’re comfortable with.
To my very pleasant surprise, the taxi driver seemed genuinely taken aback and said “but that’s too much guv”. To which I replied “no, it’s ok”.
He then said “I wish I had more customers like you” and drove off with a broad smile on his face.
Sitting here now, overlooking the river and counting the tower cranes that appear to perch on the rooftops like metallic storks, I think that was one of those little moments of joy in a day; I made him feel good and his compliment made me feel good. Since the onset of the financial crisis, the sheer scale of the billions given to banks by the government and then given out to bankers in bonuses have made the value of money incomprehensible to almost everyone. We have become anaesthetised to just what money can provide, as it is used in ever increasing amounts with seemingly inversely proportionate effects.
Do you remember your first pocket money or paypacket? The sense of achievement, empowerment and wonder that it provided when you held those coins between your fingers and began to contemplate what you might be able to acheive with them.
Well, for a few brief minutes today, I had that same feeling because of a couple of quid.
So, next time you’re in a taxi, in the queue in the coffee shop or standing up to leave a table in a restaurant, think of how much those couple of extra quid could make someone else smile and…as you give that tip…could also make you smile yourself.