I’m writing this from a suburban Starbucks. You can find me here every other Monday night, killing time after my therapy appointment. Aside from a Bertuucci’s and a depressing old Dunkin Donuts, it’s the only option. I started seeing this therapist before I moved to Somerville and kept seeing her afterwards because her office wasn’t far from my job. Even now, post-employment, she’s good enough that making the fortnightly trek out here is still worth it to me. That said, the prospect of the Starbucks wait always gets me a bit down.
I used to take a taxi to make an earlier train out of Beverly proper, but I refuse to do it anymore. The reason is simple: the taxi service’s dispatcher is a complete and utter idiot, not to mention a total sourpuss. I base this on a year’s worth of experience trying to negotiate rides out of her.
For starters, she never knew where I was calling from (I was calling from North Beverly, well within the service range). I’d give her the address, obvious landmarks, and any other information she requested. No matter what information I give her, the cabbie invariably wound up in the wrong spot, telling me after I’ve found him (I never had a female cab driver with this company) that he went where the dispatcher told him to go.
Then, without fail, her time estimates would be off by a factor of at least two. She’d say fifteen minutes, and it would turn into forty. When I’d call back to see if something was wrong, she’d inform that the cabbie was on the way and that she wasn’t responsible for traffic (of course she isn’t, but the thing is, these cabbies aren’t going far and the traffic at this time of night isn’t heavy. It just doesn’t take that long to cross town).
“Don’t worry if it’s going to take a while,” I said once, trying to be helpful, “Just tell me the right time so I don’t have to freeze, standing outside waiting for the cab.” It didn’t work. Once when I called to get a taxi to take me to work after I missed my ride, she forgot all about me. After four reminder calls, a taxi finally showed up an hour later, and I had to share a cab (but not the fare).
The last straw, however, occurred four weeks ago. Aware that it would take forever to get a cab, I called an hour in advance of when I needed it but didn’t tell the dispatcher that. “Fifteen minutes,” she said, after we haggled over the pickup spot yet again.
I was sitting in a spot where I could see the taxi pull up, so I wasn’t worried. Fifteen minutes turned into thirty, and then thirty-five. Even though I had time, I called, just to be sure she hadn’t forgotten about me again. “Yup. He’s on his way. Should be any minute now.”
Thirty-five minutes turned into forty, and then into forty-five. I called again. “You said fifteen minutes. It’s been forty-five,” I said. “Can you tell me when the taxi will be here?”
“He’ll be right there.”
Fifty minutes turned into fifty-five. And then into an hour. By this point, I really needed the taxi to get there, or I was going to miss my train. I called again.
“Listen. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE! It’s not my fault the cab isn’t there yet. He’s stuck in traffic!”
“Is there an accident?” I asked.
“Was the cab driver in Boston? It only takes a half an hour to get here from Boston.”
“No. He’s stuck in traffic. It’s not my fault.”
I’d had it. “What traffic? This is Beverly. You don’t get that kind of traffic at eight around here. And you are responsible for giving plausible wait times. I need to catch a train, and now I might miss it because the cab driver has taken four times as long to get here as you told me he would. So, again. When is he going to get here?”
“It’s. Not. My. Fault.”
“Whatever. Just please send someone in the next five minutes, or don’t bother.”
Finally, the cab driver showed up. He’d just gotten the destination. I made my train in seconds flat, vowing to never talk to that surly dispatcher again.
So here I sit in a suburban Starbucks, biding my time before the 9:23 train arrives. It might mean an extra hour out of my day, but an hour spent not dealing with that nasty idiot is an hour well spent. Besides, I earned $25 in Starbucks money for evaluating a Web site last week, so my latte is free.