Periscope Depth

streets like a jungle, so call the police

Avoiding All Work, ‘Cause There’s None Available
My new office looks down on the ceiling of a nearby parking garage. Every afternoon, between 2:30 and 3:00, a woman drives her SUV up to the top level. She lets out a small dog and then begins idling her vehicle in a slow circle around the roof. The dog follows her.

SUV dogwalker

At first I thought she had a leash trailing out the window behind her. But when I got the attention of everyone in my office for a second opinion, we agreed she was just waving her hand or snapping her fingers. The dog follows unceasingly. She does one lap of the roof, maybe one and a half, and then lets the dog back into her SUV.

I considered the possibility that she’s handicapped.

You Go On Ahead! And Carry Me With You!
I got in an argument on the Boston Livejournal community yesterday about the ethics of requiring credit card machines in Boston cabs. My argument was that there was an ethical question involved; the poster’s, that there wasn’t.

His post, if you don’t want to click through, read as follows:

my cabbie last night was all like, “[the credit card machine]‘s not working!” then i pointed out that it’s illegal for to drive a cab with a broken card terminal in boston and that he either take the $8 in cash i had for the $18 fare, or let me pay with my card.

cabbie: you put the tip on the screen
me: yeah, i know how to do it
—seconds later—
cabbie: you didn’t put a tip!
me: yeah, i’m aware. maybe you shouldn’t give your fares a hard time when they try and pay with a card
cabbie: they take 8% when you pay with a card
me: that happens in every industry, it’s called the cost of doing business. deal with it.

I responded:

You’re not doing a lot to diminish my sympathy for the cab driver here. It sounds like he doesn’t particularly want a credit card machine in his car, but was compelled by law to accept one.

To which he replied with some variant of, “Whatever; that’s the law, tough shit.” I realized the argument could not even be engaged, much less won, since anyone who thinks “that’s the law, tough shit” is a salient response must have slept through the 20th century. So I made one more cursory response (“convenience is not a sound basis for law”) and gave up.

But shit like this is what annoys me about Boston. The cab driver loses a portion of every credit card transaction to charge fees. He clearly doesn’t want a credit card machine in the car (since he lied about it being broken). But the law compels him to take one. Then, when he tries to hustle a way around it, some asshole gives him a hard time about it and stiffs him on the tip. And more than half of the people he told this story to agreed with him. I’d say at least three-quarters; someone want to count?

I don’t mind Boston’s liberal attitude. Hell, I’m more liberal than I was four years ago, so living in Boston suits me just fine. But that frustrating yet common blend of liberal attitude and consumer entitlement drives me up a wall. Consistency is all I seek. I can respect a guy who reads Worker’s World because he’s been in the IBEW for thirty years, but not if he’s a college student. And Boston is mostly college students.

(And I’m not generalizing that far here. I’ve been a member of the Boston LJ community for years. I know these people; I’ve seen them argue before)

For thinkers who spend so much time railing against “privilege,” Boston progressives loathe to surrender theirs.

Edit: several commenters on my LiveJournal have pointed out that, hey, Boston cab drivers are part of a state-enforced monopoly, so fuck them. And I agree with that: the taxi medallion monopoly in Boston is pretty ridiculous. It costs about $250,000 to legally drive a taxi in Boston. But I don’t buy the notion that accepting government license in one aspect of your life compels you to accept government regulation in every aspect of your life.

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