Writing 101: Day 17 – Cab Drivers and Maps. 


Prompt: Write using a map.

I take a cab to several places. At times, the noise and constant stopping and starting of the bus is tiring; it wears me out just taking it. I have met many cab drivers and most of them are nice people. Although, some of them (like in all jobs) are weird. 

I don’t mind if a cab driver is driving you and they talk to you. It’s nice most of the time to make conversation and it’s a way to make social connections and learn about people who are different from you. But certain drivers are so creepy I can’t wait to get out of the vehicle. But the majority of cab drivers are good at knowing when you don’t want to talk and they put the radio on to fill the silence. 

The most unfortunate aspect about a great many cab drivers is the fact that a number of them are very educated in the country they’re from. They have Master Degrees and PhD’s; they were the heads of companies. But somehow there education does not translate to Canadian standards. Or in an entirely different scenario, one cab driver I know, a lovely elderly gentlemen, has his PH.D. from the University of Alberta and he couldn’t get a job in his field (mathematics) so he drives his cab. 

I think are judgement of other places education systems is a bit harsh, we need to look closer at the institutions and places immigrants are schooled at so they can have jobs worthy of their degrees. I know Canada wants to ensure jobs for people who are already Canadians, but I think we owe better to people who are trying to become citizens such as our Great Grandparents or even parents did. Some of these cab drivers like their job and that’s great but I think some of them could use a university program to help them cross over to their occupation in Canada. 

 Another kind of driver I come across, are cab drivers who have lived and travelled everywhere. They have been all over the world and back again. They speak many languages and have chosen finally, to settle in Canada. These cab drivers have excellent stories to tell. They are some of my favourite because you can let them talk and don’t have to say a thing, just nod occasionally. They may not educated in the university sense, but their knowledge of the real world is astounding. They are well read and have seen great art pieces and have been where history is taking place. 

But there is a another type of cab driver I do not like at all. They are a shady type of cab driver. I have learned to tell when a cab driver is trying to rip you off. They will try to take the longest route to where you are going. They won’t ask you which way you want to go. And if you say, they may pretend not to understand you. But that is why you must say go here and here etc. I don’t quite understand why these cab drivers have trouble finding their way. They all have Google Maps on their smart phones and GPS’s in their car. Sometimes you have to say, use your GPS. The best cab drivers know the city, every nook and cranny and even with a GPS, know a faster way to go. Some cab drivers don’t know your neighbourhood well or where you are going and it is okay when they don’t know except that that is what their GPS is for. 

The worst drivers are trying to make it appear as if they are lost. They know their way well but they are trying to make more money off you. The best thing to do is to know how to get where you want to go and direct them; maybe take a look at Google maps on your phone. If they charge you too much, don’t tip. And if they got you terribly lost on purpose and over charged you a lot, call the cab company. Alternatively, you can always refuse to pay the amount they want you to pay if you for certain know how much the trip should cost. That’s what I like about paying upon arrival instead of having your credit card charged whatever the amount the driver drove. 

Another problem with certain cab drivers is they will tell you that their POS system is not working or having problems, when it is working fine. Sometimes they aren’t working, and you have to pay cash or go to a bank first, to pick up cash. But if you are like me and don’t carry much cash on you and you think a driver might be lying,  you can tell him to try your card and often it will ‘magically work.’ Most cab drivers I have met are honest in this respect but I know of a few who always try to avoid credit card and debit fees associated with a POS. 

I have mostly good things to say about the cab company I use. They are called CO-OP. They have an excellent mobile application too which is so helpful when you don’t know a locations address. Yellow Cab in Edmonton is hit and miss. I have had drivers refuse to drive me because I won’t pay cash. I have been sworn at by some Yellow Cab drivers too. But mostly, they seem like a reliable company. UBER is good at peek hours but I find the drivers at least in Edmonton, don’t know the entire city well. They also cost more then CO-OP almost every time I’ve used them (and I was always told their cheaper). The bottom line, I just don’t use them. I like to pay when I get to a place and I don’t like that their drivers don’t have the right insurance if you are in an accident. I also find that their drivers are not as knowledgable. If I was drunk at night, I’d take them, but not in the day. 

This is what came to my mind when I thought about maps. I use cabs to go all over the city as long as the destination isn’t too far. I wish I had the concentration to drive often; it would be so nice to be able to drive to a location, especially ones that are close. 

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How I Learned Not to Shop


This blog is an update as well as an advice providing write-up. When I first started getting paid for my job as a receptionist in 2007/2008, I was more like a kid in a candy store then a responsible graduate who had taken business and math courses that had focused partially on dealing with money.

But the year I became ill with a psychotic episode via Depression I started to not spend my money even less well. Luckily, I was only $1700.00 in debt so my Dad could pay that off for me with money he had saved for me from when I was paying rent at home. But 4 years later I really got into debt to the tune of $17 000 and with interest once I had my Dad co-sign a loan so I could pay down almost a small car with interest. I have been doing that paying down $381.00 a month every month since I got into debt.

This was a very stupid thing to do although I must mention I think it did have something to do with a mini-episode of depression or some type of mood disorder during this time as even at that time I could not remember doing it. Just that I came back after a small vacation in Montreal that was all paid for and sometime between paying for that vacation and returning from it in May, I got into debt in approximately 3 months.

By this time I was on disability and making even less then the little I made as a receptionist. And making even $380.00 less then that amount has made my budget very tight. I wasn’t able to save that little amount per month for a small vacation a year, I wasn’t able to shop anywhere even near the amount I had been shopping, even keeping a budget that would provide enough so I could get everything I need each month would become a challenge with medical costs etc.

So, I stopped shopping online altogether at first. Then, I only shopped for what I needed. Every time I saw a dress or pair of shoes I wanted a great deal but I didn’t have the money for I would pin the item on Pinterest. As you can guess, there was a lot of pinning going on at first especially with my impulse spending ways. Eventually I might keep items I liked in my shopping cart and if I very much liked the item, after a a month or two, I might purchase it providing I had an event to wear it to or nothing similar in my wardrobe.

That was the worst of my shopping. At the mall I was pretty good even before I had debt. The tactile quality of an item made me a lot more careful when spending my money. I preferred to spend my money at malls on makeup and I only had so much cash to spend at one time because I rarely used credit cards, and still practice that. And if I spent on them I always paid them off.

The other way I spent less money was quitting a weight loss program called Herbal magic which saved me about $400.00 a month and was the bulk of my debt. It paid for my loan payment every month. It was hard to do but I had only lost about 10 lbs on it due to my medications and it was simply too expensive. The only thing that worked about it was the idea of losing weight by cutting your portion size. All the herbs required were a crazy amount of money.

Now, I have stayed out of debt a year and a half. I’m still budgeting carefully according to what I need each month and I pay careful attention to what I but and the balance on my credit cards and bank account. I think if this is possible for me to do on a very small budget, it is possible for anyone, even on a large budget. It is also important, to know your weaknesses and walk away when you don’t have the money to buy the item you want.

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