This guy really deserved his tip.
I went to Chicago last Tuesday for the deposition of a hematologist at a hospital in Evanston, Ill. Chicago is an easy trip and one that can be completed in a day. It was a long day, but I was able to sleep in my own bed.
I debated whether to fly into Midway on my favorite airline, Southwest, or into O’Hare, where you never know what is going to happen. O’Hare was about 10 miles closer, so I opted for O’Hare. It was a good choice as my opposing counsel chose Midway and missed his flight and I did not.
Business travel is stressful. First of all, I was going to take the deposition of a specialist who had spent nine years preparing to be a hematologist. He was the expert for the defense in a medical negligence case, and I knew his opinions were not going to be helpful to our case, and despite my best efforts, I was not going to get him to change his opinions. I have taken similar depositions several hundred times, but it is always nerve-wracking.
However, the best part of my trip was the taxi ride to and from Evanston. I took $300 in cash because I had no idea what that 25-mile taxi ride would cost. While I was walking to the airport exit, I stopped at an information booth to ask what the best way was to get to Evanston, and a nice lady handed me a card for a taxi service that charges by the trip, rather than by the mile, which theoretically reduces the cost substantially.
I had two hours to get to Evanston, so I called the 800 number and waited for the taxi. I waited and waited, and my blood pressure increased. To make a long story shorter, I discovered after multiple phone calls that my taxi was at the wrong terminal and that I was on the wrong level in the airport. You would think that after waiting an hour that I would have figured out that no one was getting into a taxi on the level that I was at and only getting out.
We got it all figured out and after an hour of waiting, I was on my way to Evanston with a Pakistani taxi driver.
Although my stress level was at a maximum, it turned out that I got the best taxi driver in Chicago.
I informed him I had to be in Evanston in 35 minutes and he said he would try to get me there on time. There is only one road into Evanston from the interstate, and it was under construction. Every road we traveled was under construction, but on the most beautiful day of the year, no one was working. It was weird.
Miraculously we arrived almost on time. The court reporter actually got lost coming to the deposition, so I had plenty of time as it turned out, except that I had planned on leaving Evanston no later than 3:30 so I could make my 6 p.m. flight.
On the trip there, I asked the taxi driver how I could get a return trip and he told me that he would wait for me as he lived nearby and would take his lunch break and return to pick me up. He also told me that it was a very slow day and that I was actually his first trip of the day. He had been at O’Hare from 8 a.m. until noon waiting for a fare. I handed him a bonus for waiting as I left the taxi and he promised to return at 3:30. Unfortunately, at 3:30, I had another 15 minutes of questions to ask and he called me on my cell phone while I was asking questions.
At 3:45, I called him back and he was waiting. When I got in the taxi, he told me that business had picked up and that he had to turn down another fare, because he had promised me he would wait. He may have been lying, but I believed him. I gave him a very nice tip.
On the return trip to O’Hare, which took about an hour, we had a long conversation. I learned that this taxi driver had only been driving a taxi for six months and he was only doing it because his other job was adversely affected by the economy. He had a mortgage business and I sensed he had been making a lot of money, because in the course of our conversation, he informed me that he had made a $4,600 political contribution to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
We talked politics for most of the trip and at one point, I asked him how long he had been in the United States and he indicated about five years. He had come to the U.S. from Malaysia, where he had operated a landscaping company. He had a green card and was not eligible for U.S. citizenship until 2012. Thus, this man, who couldn’t even vote, cared enough about the elections to make a large contribution.
I was intrigued.
I then asked him if he had been back to Pakistan anytime recently and he indicated that he was here on political asylum and that it was not safe for him to return to Pakistan. Our trip to O’Hare ended at that point, so I didn’t get the rest of the story. I should have started my interview on the trip to Evanston, because I am sure it would have been a good story.
The last two times I had been to Chicago for depositions, the taxi driver each time was a Palestinian and on both occasions we got stopped for speeding. The doctor whose deposition I took in Evanston was an Orthodox Jew and the other hematologist for the defense on my case is a Persian. I laughed as I thought about the prospect of being in a taxi driven by a Pakistani with a Jew, a Palestinian and an Iranian on board.
That would have been a trip to write about.