Before climbing in I asked the cab driver, “Do you know how to find the main entrance of X Co.?”
My co-mediator and I, previously strangers to each other and to the city, were beginning the second day of a large corporate mediation. For some reason we were having a hard time with taxi drivers. This was our second try.
My original plan was to catch a cab at my hotel, pick up Tim less than two blocks away, and we’d ride together to the mediation site. But when I mentioned Tim’s hotel the first cabbie, who spoke very little English, looked blank.
He pointed to his GPS. “Need street address.” I didn’t have it. “It’s next to the casino (only one in town),” I said, trying to help.
“OK, OK, I find it.” I thought I detected a doubtful tone. He began to text while driving off, apparently seeking directions from a higher power. He must have gotten help, because in a minute we pulled up to Tim’s hotel.
Tim got in. “Take us to X Co.” Now, this company employs maybe a thousand people on an enormous campus of many acres. It’s only about a mile from Tim’s hotel. Sort of like saying in DC, “Take us to the Pentagon.”
“Need street address.”
Tim said, “We’re getting out.”
Our next driver appeared to be from India, so no problem being understood. He sported a luxuriant jet-black beard with matching curls spilling from a gold turban. He was grand. He reminded me of a Rajah.
“Yes, yes. Of course I know X Co.” Raj sounded annoyed. Had we insulted his intelligence?
We got in and Raj immediately took off in the wrong direction.
Tim suspected a meter run-up. “We know where it is. You’re going the wrong way.”
“No, no. Just taking a shortcut. Too much traffic the other way. I’m going the back way.” We could see the traffic through the back window flowing right along — away from our current direction.
Tim: “Turn around. We want to go the shortest way.”
Raj kept driving. “I’m just going to pick up another rider over here. I know how much your fare should be. Ten dollars.”
Yesterday I’d paid eight.
Alarm growing, I joined the chorus. “We don’t want to share a cab. We hired you. Please turn around.”
He kept going. “I’m just picking up somebody.”
What was going on? Were we being kidnapped? Was I making this up?
Tim: “Stop this car right now and let us out or I’m calling the police!”
Raj did not stop. But he did make a U-turn, tires squealing. Furious.
I had to suppress a nervous giggle. Thinking of this blog, I said to Tim, “I’m going to write about this.” Less than five minutes later we pulled up to X Co.’s entrance.
Raj, still pouting, said, “No charge.”
Here’s the message: When you think you’re not being heard, repeat yourself. When it’s clear you’re still not getting through, don’t give up. Just try another approach that you’re sure can’t be misunderstood!