Monday, March 1, 2010

On The Wheels Of A Dilemma

Canadians are known for being very polite. We always say please and thank you, and we hold the door for people, and we smile at clerks who are waiting on us -- at least that is the reputation we have. It's not always true, of course. We can be just as snarky as the next person, when push comes to shove. Or at least, let's put it this way -- we can be assertive if we have to be. Today I was put into the unfortunate position of having to assert myself, and I have felt guilty as h*ll all day long. I mean, you know that knot in the pit of your stomach feeling? I can't shake it. What on earth happened, you ask? Well, let me tell you. I think I was rude. I didn't mean to be -- at the time I just thought I was being assertive, but in hindsight, I think I was rude, and I feel very bad about it.

On Monday morning I was taking too much time getting ready for work. I read some e-mails, played around on the internet, had a second cup of coffee and soon I realized I was going to be late -- very late. I called a taxi rather than take my chances with transit. I asked the dispatcher if the taxis were busy, and he said they were busier than usual, but there would really be no delay. He asked me for name and address, and said to go outside right away. I put on my coat, juggled my purse, my keys and a bag of trash to be put into the garbage bin outside my building. As I got outside, my cab was there, and another couple was getting into it.

"Hey...! That's my cab...!"

"No it isn't," they said. "We called for a taxi at 9:00 last night."

They were loading their luggage into the taxi, and I asked the taxi driver to confirm the address to which he had been dispatched. He gave my name and address, however the couple getting into the taxi were not only from across the street, they had called a different taxi company.

"The driver just confirmed this taxi is the one I called."

Who was to know when their taxi would arrive, and if I didn't take the one dispatched for me, I would be late for work and in big trouble with the Black Knight my boss. I stood my ground. The couple unloaded their luggage, I got into "my" taxi and left. I made it to work on time without a minute to spare.

I know what you're thinking. I should have been gracious and let them take the taxi, and waited for theirs. And you're right -- I should have. I was rude and discourteous, perhaps even selfish. It certainly wasn't the Canadian thing to do. When I came home today, I almost expected to see them still standing on the curb, looking lost and forlorn, with their luggage piled beside them. That would have served me right. It has bothered me all day, and perhaps that's a good sign.

35 comments:

Kathryn said...

Oh Jo - I would have done the same thing with the taxi (being afraid to get to work late), and then beaten myself up about it all day after that. Assertion is stressful, and we always think we could have done something to make everyone happy.
Bottom line is that their taxi showed up after yours, which is not your fault. If you hadn't been afraid about being late I'm sure you would have let them have the taxi. No one should have to worry about being late for work. I'm sorry tht you have a boss who makes the staff feel that way.

Jo said...

Kathryn, yes, there are always so many variables, and "if onlys" and "coulda, shoulda, wouldas". I suppose if it happens again, I would do it differently.

The Fullmers said...

I personally think you handled the situation beautifully. It was your cab and it was there for you. It is OK for us to speak up and be assertive. I really don't see anything you did as rude. You didn't make it personal and you didn't make disparaging comments about them. Give yourself some slack from where I stand I don't think you acted inappropriately.

jojo said...

I've never been able to assert myself. Ever. I've often paid a high price for that. I think I would feel guilty and torn either way. I think it's a no win situation. Sorry you feel so bad but I don't think you did anything wrong. Clearly, it was your taxi. Have a better day tomorrow..;p

Jo said...

The Fullmers, thank you. :-) At the time it felt right. I was a bit cross that someone else was taking my taxi. I think the driver knew, too, that he should have checked first.

JoJo, yes, it's funny, but writing about it has made me feel a bit better. It was my taxi. :-)

Lorac said...

Perhaps, they knew it was not their taxi? Then they would be rude!This was a no win situation.

Jo said...

Lorac, they glared at me. I tried to be gracious, but they were obviously not happy. Oh, goodness...

deandean said...

Don't dwell on it Jo. I would have done the same thing too and though it's not a pleasant incident to think about, it was the right thing to do.

Elise said...

in my humble opinion, you were only being assertive, not rude. (but this comes from a dutch person, known to be blunt :-))

Mclndesm said...

Jo you were just being assertive. They knew that wasn't their cab. Shame on them!! Of course, I am an American and I probably would have been "nicely" taking out their luggage out of the trunk for them as I kindly told them "this is my cab, you know it is and Good Day!!" :> I would not have given it a 2nd thought as I was squired to work.

Firefly said...

Us South Africans are very much the same. We would apologise if somebody walks into us. You did the right thing. Not many people would have had the guts to do so.

Term Papers said...

It's always nice when you can not only be informed, but also get knowledge, from these type of blog, nice entry. Thanks

College Term Papers

Wolynski said...

Actually, they were rude for taking the cab, knowing full well it was yours. Who cares if they called the cab last Tuesday week - it never came.
If you hadn't called, the cab would not be there, so why were they taking advantage?

Are you having Olympic withdrawal symptoms?

KathyB. said...

First of all, anyone who writes "h*ll" is already known to be polite, then the fact they called a taxi 9:00 the previous night , they knew this was not their taxi! And I would have done the same when it comes to being late for work, but then would have been trashing myself the same as you for doing it. Which all goes to show you have a conscience and are polite. But being polite does not mean you have to be trod upon!

So, obviously the black knight did not cut off your head or otherwise , so you are left to surmise about your rudeness!You are too sweet Jo!

Russell said...

Didn't anyone tell you that after you left in YOUR taxi that the couple discovered, much to their surprise, they had forgotten to take their three children?!?!

They were in such a rush to get to the taxi and load the luggage -- knowing full well it was not their taxi -- that they had inadvertently left their 3 children behind??!

Okay. I made that up. But the point is, sometimes we do things that make us feel rather guilty only to discover later that there was a happy ending.

Granted, sometimes it is ME who is more happy than THEM but ..... heh!

Canarybird said...

You were right Jo and they were wrong and both they and the taxi driver should have been the ones apologizing to you, for not having checked the name of the person who had ordered the taxi.

But I'm the same though and would have felt badly for the rest of the day, wondering if I was being overbearing despite knowing that I was in the right.
You would perhaps have been kicking yourself later in the day if you had given then your cab and made yourself late for work.

Here the taxis have a number painted on the outside of their door and we're told to look for taxi number xx when we phone ahead to order one.

VioletSky said...

I have heard complaints from taxi drivers about people who phone two cab companies and take whichever one comes first. They are the selfish ones, not you.

the walking man said...

The taxi was dispatched to you, you were out of time, the others called a different company, made a reservation and the company failed to perform. Ergo yes Johanna it was all your fault every little bit of it. How dare you act so imperiously and demanding that your actions (calling a cab to get you to work)be so egregious?

Brenda said...

I probably would have felt bad too, but only because the situation was stressful. If the taxi driver clarified that it was indeed your cab, why should you feel bad? You should only feel bad if it was not your taxi. Being late for anything always puts me in a high stress mode. I just get really on edge for some reason. Those feelings would have made me feel bad through out the day more than being assertive about the cab being mine.
But....any controversy usually spins me off balance. I am a peaceful quiet sort unless some one riles me...then watch out. But I think most of us humans are like that.

Charles Gramlich said...

I probably wouldn't have had the guts to stand my ground but I'd fumed about it all day. Your's is the better way.

DJan said...

If you had been late for work because of being "nice" and backing off, you would have created much more internal distress. The situation was such that you didn't really have a stress-free alternative. I think you did exactly the right thing, and now you are getting it off your chest. Perfect, in my mind.

The Bug said...

I agree with Brenda - I would have been stressed by the situation, but I don't think I would have felt guilty about the couple. But I'm an American & I take it as my right to be rude LOL!

But you weren't rude - you were taking care of yourself. You know how hard it is for women to take care of themselves & not feel guilty.

Katy said...

You did the right thing. Why were these people running across the street to take a cab from a different cab company? I think this is clearly not a case of an honest mix up.

Lorac said...

They glared at you because they knew they were in the wrong! Thank you for bringing to my attention that my comments were not working on The Long and Winding Road. I have fixed it now!

PinkPanthress said...

Maybe it's the german in me talking, but I think you did nothing wrong.
In my opinion they were being rude, for not asking the taxi driver first, if he was theirs, that was very egoistic & wrong of them.
Not to forget, that it was obviously not the same company... so, chin up!
;)

P.S.: Besides, that you are being so humble by still thinking you were rude, only shows what a good person you are! :)

Eddie Bluelights said...

No you were not rude and discourteous - you were entirely right to do what you did - it was they who should have apologised to you. It was your cab and they knew it - so you were right.
That sort of thing makes my blood boil!!! The drivewr should have turfed them out because you booked the taxi.
You are too nice, Jo!
See you soon ~ Eddie x

Land of shimp said...

Hey, I am the person who smiles at clerks, and tries to be kind. I make friends with Canadians all the time, in part, because I tend to have that in common with them. The first words my son learned -- and I'm being literal, the first words out of his mouth -- were, "Thank you." Only because babies hand adult toys, constantly, and my ex-husband and I would both compulsively say, "Thank you." each and every time...so those were the words he heard most, and the first words he spoke.

But there's a difference between courtesy and allowing anyone to ride roughshod over you. Don't mistake their discourtesy -- laying claim to a taxi that clearly wasn't theirs -- as your own.

It's important to be kind to others, I truly believe that, and I try my best to live it. But they weren't living up to their end of the bargain, were they? I wouldn't dream of trying to make off with someone else's taxi, even if it meant I was going to miss a flight. And I sure as shooting wouldn't let someone use my own innate courtesy as an excuse to take advantage of me.

Please, go forth in the world, and continue to be kind, in both the name of decency and being Canadian...but responding to rudeness with assertiveness, and standing up for what is actually the right of the situation? That's not rude...unless you decide to swear your head off, or call them idiots...but really saying, "Sorry, this is not your taxi." is not rude.

This goes to a larger issue, that of women in particular, being schooled that we must always put the needs of others before ourselves. That the most valuable thing we can contribute is to be perceived as "nice"...I value niceness. I do. I think I value it more than I do intelligence in people, as I'd rather hang around a kind person, than a whip smart meanie.

But it's okay to understand, "It is important to be kind...and I am important enough to be treated with kindness." They tried to pull one over on you, you didn't let them.

They were being discourteous. Now, I've tipped bad waiters in my life, because I always think, "Well, maybe they are having a hard day, it's a very rough job, dealing with the public."

But Jo...they were lying and knew it. Nothing to feel guilty about there. You called them on it. Hopefully they learned their own lesson in courtesy.

Jo said...

Omigoodness, everyone, thank you for your kind comments. I do indeed feel much better after reading what you wonderful folks had to say. I felt I had done the wrong thing, but clearly I had not. Yay!!!

Cheers,

Jo

Linda said...

Hey, Jo, I made my way over here from JoJo's blog.

I certainly wouldn't worry about the taxi thing, unless these are neighbors of yours, and could cause problems in the future. Otherwise, don't worry about it. The taxi driver should have been the one to speak to the other couple.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Jo
You sound just like me...way tooooo hard on yourself...those people did wrong and they knew it..they should of ask you to forgive them ...stop beating yourself up...
Enjoy your site I am following
you
Maggie

Teri said...

Why do you think you were rude? Getting into the cab you had called for is not being selfish. They had a place to go and you had a place to go. Your ride came first. YOUR ride.

Those people knew what taxi service they had called and they darn well knew the one they were getting into was NOT the company they called. They were the rude ones. Rude and arrogant. IF they were forlorn, it was probably that they didn't get loaded and out of there fast enough.

They should have been apologizing BIG TIME to you when it came out they had poached your cab!

Not being a door mat is not being rude.

Belizegial said...

Congrats on standing your ground and getting to work on time!

Mia said...

I'm surprised the driver let them take their bags out. Around here it's first in, first served.

It's always possible that the couple did indeed phone the taxi company the night before to be picked up at that time. If you're expecting a taxi right now and one appears are you going to question who it is for?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I don't think you were inappropriate, Jo. Once it was confirmed that the taxi had been ordered by you, they should have gotten out without question, and also apologized to you. They had to know it was the wrong company's cab but thought they could get away with it since it came sooner than theirs. People are more likely to take advantage of a woman alone than a man or a couple, and they probably would have congratulated themselves on putting one over on you if you had meekly given in. Don't feel bad, for goodness' sake. Give your bad self a treat.

Goldenrod said...

Many taxi drivers around here would have just taken the two to the airport - I'm assuming that it would have been a longer trip for the driver and therefore more $$$ - and not even bothered to wait around for confirmation.