So you want to take a cab in our nation's capital? Lucky you!
D.C. boasts one of the most barely adequate taxi systems in the world. But before you embark on your urban adventure, we recommend you read this brief guide in preparation. Godspeed.
Part 1: The Hail
Even if you haven't been to New York City, you are likely familiar with the iconic yellow cab. Easy to spot from far away and simple to tell if available, occupied, or off duty.
What? Did you expect that sort of uniformity and professionalism here? Fuck no. Our cab commissioner likely got his job by selling crack to Marion Barry.
White, black, purple, beige, teal, magenta, periwinkle - the only consistency found in a DC taxi paint job is a plethora of dents, scratches, and suspicious crimson splatters. So when trying to hail a cab, be sure to flail your arms at every decade old economy sedan and mini-van on the horizon. And don't you dare think about relying on the rooftop indicator light to tell if a cab is already in use, that's about as reliable as a personal assistant with Alzheimer's.
Once you succeed in tracking down a cab, be sure to get in before you say a word about your destination. When it's 2 AM on a Saturday and you are trying to get your inebriated ass home after a night of failed sexual conquests, the last thing you want is a driver that refuses to take you to your shitty english basement in the suburbs. What were you thinking? He can't get a return fare going there.
Special Tip:If you're black,
give up trying to
hail a cab.
Special Tip:Forget a ride
Don't be too relieved if you get in. It's possible that he will try to kick you out of his cab once you announce your destination ("you live in Virginia? fuck, that's like 4 miles away!"), but at least you'll have a better shot. Just remember: the law is on your side.
And if there is one thing D.C. cab drivers are known for, it's obeying the law.
Part 2: The Ride
Okay, you are finally on your way. At this point, the driver is likely yapping on his cell phone while committing seven simultaneous moving violations. It's a little like being on an amusement park ride, except with a genuine fear for the safety of you and everyone else in the city.
Some entrepreneurial drivers may try to collect your fare up front and then stop for more riders along the way. If this happens to you, shut your damn mouth and marvel at the American dream in action. That guy is a patriot.
You want him to turn the radio down? Nope. You will listen to Kylie Minogue and love it.
You want him to turn up the A/C? Nope. Swamp ass makes an excellent air freshener that will compliment the aroma of exhaust and armpits.
Just remember that you are a guest in the taxi-man's two-ton transporter and are at his mercy. As an independent driver, he has no obligation to please you. You won't boycott him, you won't even remember him. You have nobody to complain to. But at least we don't have any of those socialist regulations... like New York does.
Special Tip:If you have a smart phone, you can save time by using it to book a chiropractor during your ride. That cab's suspension has over 200,000 miles of hitting potholes, ramming curbs, and cutting off bicyclists.
Part 3: The Bill
You made it! Mission accomplished. Wait, don't forget to pay the man.
Oh you wanted to use a credit card? What do you think this is, 2012? Cash only, Buster.
$20 is too big of a bill, he cannot break that.
Yes, he will accept this 30% tip without your permission.
You didn't know about the extra $2 charge for each of your appendages and another $5 because fuck you?
You want a receipt? Here is a blank piece of paper instead. Sure, he can scribble something incoherent on it for you, I'm sure that is adequate for your expense report.
The Truth is... There are some great cab drivers out there making an honest living. If you come across one of them, we urge you to tip them well. But the taxi cab system in the D.C. metropolitan area, on the whole, just plain sucks. Make sure you know your rights!