Friday, January 30, 2015

Opportunism or Extortion?

You’re standing on the street in the rain, desperately trying to hail a cab, flailing away, recognizing just how late you are for your flight. Finally, a taxi stops for you, and you explain your plight, and beg the driver to make haste to the airport.
He fully appreciates the gravity of the situation. So he turns to you and says, “No problem. I’ll be happy to take you, and pronto. But…it’ll cost you $250 dollars.”
“What!?” you protest. “That’s at most a thirty dollar cab fare! How can you charge me so much?”
“No problem,” he answers. “It just so happens that I just went off duty. Please sir, step out of the cab, and have a nice day.”
He’s got you. It’s clear that if you don’t agree to pay, you’ll never make the flight, or that critical meeting, and will probably lose the client. So, begrudgingly, you close the door and tell the cabbie, “Two-fifty it is.” But I better make that flight.
He’s a man of his word, and apparently knows every possible shortcut, cut-through and alleyway, and you arrive at the airport with moments to spare. As you get out of the cab, you put a wad of cash in his hand and run to the terminal.
“Hey!” he calls out to you. “This is only fifty! Where’s the other two hundred!”
“Fifty is more than fair,” you call back. “Including the tip. Thanks for the ride.”
“But you agreed to my price! I want the rest of the money.”
You pause, now under the awning, and finally admit the truth. “You were trying to take advantage of my distress, and were hoping to rip me off. I only agreed to your price because I knew that you’d never take me unless I did. I never had any intention of paying you the full amount. To my mind, you’ve been well paid for your efforts. Thanks for the ride!”
And with that, you turn into the terminal and rush to the flight.
Who’s right: the harried traveler, or the cabbie? Do you owe him another two hundred dollars, or was he paid fully for his efforts?

To be continued…