A common call I handle is from Taxi cab drivers with passengers that refuse to pay for the ride. Usually, these minor disputes are handled quickly when police arrive. Many times, drunk passengers don't have enough (or any) money to pay for the ride but can usually find a friend or relative to cover the shortfall.
The other night I took one such call. 'Mohammed' the cab driver picked up an senior citizen from a bustling restaurant and drove her about 8 miles to her home. The woman wanted cigarettes and cash so asked him to stop at a convenience store. The first store didn't have an ATM so they made 2 more stops before arriving home.
The driver quoted a fee of $20 and the woman was outraged. She stormed off into her house and shut the door without paying.
When I arrived, the cab driver told me the story. I then walked up to her door and knocked. The woman answered the door with a phone to her ear. She was on the line with the Taxi company complaining about being overcharged. She hung up the phone and launched into rambling complaint about cab fares. I say 'rambling' because her story was excessively long, contained numerous irrelevant observations, and repeated the phrase, "I'm a 63 year old woman" at least 80 times.
I felt great relief when she stopped talking: For a perceived end to the lecture and for the lack of a nearby open flame that surely would have ignited an inferno from the alcoholic content of her breath.
I tried to explain to her that refusing to pay for the ride she received was theft. She would hear none of it. Trying to reason with the heavily intoxicated is never pleasant. They don't hear a word you say and are incapable of accepting criticism or responsibility.
I was able to get these facts from her:
She was at a company party and had $15 in her purse when she called the taxi.
She is a 63 year old woman.
She asked him to stop at a few places to get cash but none of the ATM's were working.
She takes a taxi to work every day and is used to being charged about $13 to $15.
She is a 63 year old woman.
She claimed the driver wanted $25 but she only paid him what she felt was fair: $15.
She was kidnapped by the driver, feared for her life, and was traumatized.
She does not drink alcohol and I could even call her friends and ask them if I don't believe it.
She is a 63 year old woman.
She then offered the following solution: "You get the taxi driver's supervisor here and if he can justify the fare of $25; I'll pay it."
I asked the driver to call his supervisor who advised he'd be there in 20 minutes.
While waiting for the supervisor, I asked to woman to look in her purse to verify how much money she had. She pulled out $15. Since she told me earlier she only had $15 to start with and didn't get any cash at the 3 stops, it seemed apparent she didn't pay the driver anything. My attempt of explaining grade school math (you can't have $15, use that $15 as payment, and still have $15 left over) were in vain. She angrily refuted, "All I know is that I paid him $15."
Then she complained I didn't take her kidnapping accusation seriously. After confirming she was "traumatized" and "in fear of her life", I asked why she didn't call 911 to report the violent felony. "Because I needed the phone to call the cab company and didn't have time to call police!"
The driver's supervisor arrived but all hope of a mutual agreement was lost when I listened to the following exchange:
"Ma'am, did you look at the fare meter when the ride was over?", he asked.
"He didn't even use a meter."
"Yes he did. The meter is installed in plain view and is still running."
"Well, I'm a 63 year old woman!"
"O.K., but the driver charges the fare displayed in the meter. Since you asked him to make three stops, the meter continued to run."
"I know my rights and as a legal citizen will not pay."
I could see this going nowhere so I gave her a final ultimatum: Pay the driver for the service he provided, or be cited for theft.
"Listen to me, young man! I could be your grandmother.", She announced.
"No, my grandmother would never act this way.", I replied.
After a brief pause, I asked, "Are you going to pay for the ride or not."
"NO!" She shook her fist a few inches in front of my face while holding a pen. Fearing an accidental or intentional eye puncture, I gently grasped her wrist and moved her arm away from me. She demanded my name, badge number and police report number. "I'd be happy to provide that info, I just need to get it out of my car and will be with you in a minute."
I returned a few minutes later with a citation written out for theft of services.
"My name and badge number are on the bottom of the ticket", I explained.
"The police report number is on the top, and your scheduled court date is listed below. You are being charged with one count of theft of services, a class 3 misdemeanor", I continued.
"Now will you please sign the bottom of the ticket? It's not an admission of guilt but a promise to appear for your court date?", I finished.
"But I'm a 63 year old woman: I won't sign it."
"All right." I wrote 'served' on the citation and gave her the appropriate copies. "Don't forget to attend your court hearing or a warrant will be issued for your arrest."
I sensed an impending tongue-lashing and made my exit just as a new volley of nonsense erupted from her mouth. "You can provide all that information to the judge. Good night.", I said and quickly escaped to my patrol car.
The woman called my police station for the next several hours and tried to complain to every Sergeant available. Each one of them was stuck on the phone for an eternity listening to the same babbling nonsense I experienced.
As I left the station at 2:30 a.m., I could hear a Sergeant on the phone saying, "I know you're a 63 year old woman, you've told me that several times -now what is your complaint about the officer?"