Tightwad fail

I needed to take the intercity bus this weekend and decided that, instead of purchasing tickets online like I usually do, I’d ask about paying in cash. I’m trying to move to a cash system for non-fixed expenses, so I don’t charge things to my credit card and forget about them until the bill comes. (I’ve never been a credit card overspender, but right now I don’t even want to be a credit card regular spender.)

So I called the bus company and asked them if I could pay in cash at the bus station, and if it would be the same price as if I’d paid by credit card. Yes and yes, I was told. The operator added that, if the ticket office was closed at my pickup spot, I’d just have to show him that I had the cash to pay for it and purchase the ticket at another stop along the way.

So when he bus arrived on Saturday, I showed the driver my dough, and he said, “Great, I’ll just hold on to your driver’s license until you pay.”

Gee, what could possibly go wrong with that? After all, this man is a professional who has done this hundreds of times, right? I’m sure he has a safe place he keeps this stuff.

Well, it turns out that “safe place” is the same pocket where he keeps his cell phone, and he likes to talk on the cell phone during every smoke stop, and so you know where this story is going …

When I got off at my destination, he reached into his pocket and said, real casual-like, “Hey, I think I lost your driver’s license.” At which point I also learned that I would have to pay $5 extra for the privilege of paying in cash and having him lose my driver’s license.

He said, also real casual-like, “Well, I’ll give you my phone number and you can go get a new license and I’ll pay you back.”

I just stared at him.

“Will that be a problem?”

“Yes,” I said, and proceeded to explain to him (rather politely, I think) the inconvenience of getting to the DOT without a car, and wondering (but not aloud) if his offer included taxi/bus fare plus compensation for the time spent dealing with this crap.

My politeness and non-use of the word “crap” apparently jogged his memory. He recalled exactly where he dropped it and called the folks at said stop. The woman staffing the stop told him she’d found the license. He got off the phone and told me we’d pick it up on the way back the today.

But it’s unclear if he told her that, because the person staffing the stop today didn’t know a thing about it.

You might wonder why someone without a car cares about having a driver’s license. Well, let’s see:

  • During my hot date at the Olive Garden Saturday night, I learned of the restaurant’s we-don’t-serve-alcohol-to-35-year-olds-without-ID policy (and I’ll add that, as a licensed alchohol server and hardass myself, I fully support it)
  • You can’t by cold medicine that actually works without an ID
  • At the more reputable stores, you can’t use a credit card without an ID (and I know i’m not using my credit card right now, but I have a gift card from my phone company that looks like a credit card that I am using)
  • If I want to make a withdrawal at my bank and the teller doesn’t know me, I have to show an ID
  • My friend Dekalb surprised me today with the offer of babysitting his car while he spends the week in California – but I just don’t like the idea of driving someone else’s car without a freaking driver’s license on my person

So, yes, the bus company will be hearing about it tomorrow and they better come up with a good remediation plan.

I asked Dekalb about the ethics of this, as he is a former commercial driver. Would I be endangering the guy’s livelihood? I’m not one of those bitter (and I think rare) unemployed people who wants to drag everyone down with them.

Dekalb’s wise answer: “If reporting this would endanger his job, he would have been a lot more aplogetic and worked a lot harder to make things right. And if I’m wrong, and it does endanger his job – well, he kind of deserves it for not trying harder.”

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