By: Revanche

The Niceness Effect

July 8, 2010

I was semi-stranded the other day with only ten dollars in cash and my trusty credit cards.  The combination of poor planning, getting stuck in meetings at work, and my public transportation melange resulted in my having to grab a cab for a less than 3 mile hop.  Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled about the extra cost but had no intention of stiffing the cabbie. I asked him, before getting into the cab, if he accepted credit cards.

“Only for a $15 fare or more.”
“Ok, I either have a credit card or I have $10 in cash, and I only have to go 3 miles, will that be enough cash or enough to meet the credit card minimum?”
“Well, it’s like a $12, $13 ride but … just get in, we’ll see.”

We chatted, I asked about his day, and after a few minutes he said over his shoulder, “you only have $10 in cash?  Ok. Ok, I’ll just take ten dollars. It’ll be easier and you’re nice. You’re my last fare, my wife called asking when I’d be home, it’s a short ride.  And after a shift, sometimes, the nice people are more important, it’s so little difference in money.”

I protested, but he insisted that he didn’t feel taken advantage of and that he was fine with it.
 I know it’s not a huge amount, but I also know that cab drivers don’t have an easy job and even though I don’t know how well they’re paid, I believe in giving a fair tip.  In this case, I would have tipped $3 on a $13 fare.  He basically gave me a 50% discount.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been the “cab driver”?  Is niceness important enough to give up some money?  Or do you think, as PiC would jokingly rib, it was because I’m a giiiiirl?

13 Responses to “The Niceness Effect”

  1. Sense says:

    i think it was because you told him upfront what your sitch was, and you acted like you cared about his day, rather than like he was your servant, there to do your bidding. appreciation goes a looonng way. i have definitely been in situations where i was ‘you’ in the scenario. sometimes people aren’t so bad. i’m not often in situations where i get to be the cabbie, but i try to be nice when and where i can.

    OMG, and i just figured out what PiC stood for today while waiting for my samples to finish running (it takes 50 minutes per sample…i was daydreaming and thinking about random things because my internet connection didn’t work and i ran out of other work to do). Partner in Crime? i don’t know how i didn’t get that before…new nickname for BD, right?

  2. 444 says:

    Yes, I give up extra money all the time. I am a soft-heart when it comes right down to it. I have to stop myself from giving money away.

    I sound really stingy most of the time, and I am when it comes to dealing with big machines (big business) but when I am face-to-face with a person, I tend to give stuff away.

    Last week all dozen of our carefully-cultivated tomatoes (Jr. 444’s plants he purchased with his birthday money and hovered over every day, they are his pride and joy) were stolen right off the plant while we were out for a few hours. I have no idea who did it but a large group of painters were taking a siesta under a nearby tree while we were out.

    After getting over the irritation and being disturbed by the idea that someone might be so hungry, I put out some oranges. Then I got together a box of easy-to-prepare and ready-to-eat food we had in our pantry. We’re not solvent and I am basically buying on credit and paying interest every time I buy anything. But I am not stealing tomatoes because I am so hungry. I wanted to think that someone could take some food home to their family that night.

  3. Jenna says:

    I like when people chip in on road trips or when you pick friends up from the airport. Or offer to buy lunch or coffee. That will get you a long way in my book.

  4. Being nice really opens doors.

    I think you were honest, friendly and not at all aggressive.

    Plus, you’re a girl 🙂

  5. Carolyn says:

    Once in Vegas, I left the club early b/c I had wayyyy to much to drink and hopped in a cab. The cab driver was super nice and after me voicing my love of McDonald’s french fries, he stopped a McD’s, stopped the meter, and went inside to buy me fries. ?!?!?!! Amazing.

  6. You obviously had $6 worth of good karma coming your way!

  7. eemusings says:

    That’s lovely.

    We got free ice cream the other, simply because the scoop was messy and not up to his presentation standards. What a guy.

  8. Airam says:

    I think being nice really is under-rated / under-appreciated. It’s amazing what people are willing to do for others if they just show a little kindness.

    But let’s be real, being a cute girl does help!

  9. I put appreciation and niceness before money all the time. It’s just worth so much!

    From the other side, if a customer calls me and is nice, I will bend over backwards to make sure I make their day a hundred times better. 🙂

    Carolyn, I’m going to have to say that the cabbie did that because you are a pretty chick…that’s insane-niceness which usually does only occur because we are girls…and I love being a girl! 🙂

  10. Honestly, it’s amazing what you get just by being nice and smiling at people. It’s kind of like how people would rather work with an incompetent person who’s nice more than a jerk who’s really good at their job.

    I try to remember that whenever I feel dumb at work.

  11. What a rare moment! I guess it goes to show that you do indeed catch more flies with molasses than you do with honey.

  12. Wow- what a great story… I used to think all cab drivers are not very nice…

    =) There’s hope for mankind!!

  13. I believe this is actually called “the pretty girl effect”

    Combined with niceness, of course. 🙂

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