I've Been Had

I like to think of myself as someone who is fairly savvy, somewhat intuitive and can smell a scam at 5 paces. On the flip side, I am a perennial optimist and believer in the goodness of all people. That being said, I cut a lot of slack for people knowing they do make mistakes and bad choices which causes them to act in less than wonderful ways. But at the end of the day, I believe in goodness (and rainbows, unicorns and love.)

This past week while beginning an Uber request at JFK airport, I was approached by a nicely dressed, articulate gentleman who asked if I needed help with an Uber ride into the city. When I nodded in the affirmative, he said that he was an Uber driver and to follow him. He helped with my heavy duffle as we walked to the parked car in the Uber parking spot. During the walk I checked the fare for the lengthy ride. $83. He proceeded to put my bag in the rear of the nicely appointed vehicle and opened the door for me to get in. As we began the ride, I asked how I logged in for a ride in progress. He said that he would log in to Uber for me as it was handled differently after the ride had begun. Off we went

Upon arrival 1 hour later at my hotel, I asked what needed to happen now. He asked for the card that I had on file with Uber and said he would swipe it and Uber would take care of the rest. As he was swiping, I noticed a Bank of America logo appear on his phone and began to question his involvement with Uber. He reassured me that he was logging in to Uber and that it would be taken care of as I was accustomed to.

Red flags, but here I was locked in his car, bag in the rear and my credit card in his hands. He handed me the phone to sign for the charge and I asked the amount (mentally calculating a tip but also thinking I had been “had.” $270 was what the phone read.

At this point, I mentally calculated my options knowing I must get away from this situation, but first I wanted to give him a lengthy lecture on honesty, ethics and taking advantage of visitors to his city. He continued to swear he was representing Uber and this was the proper fare. I didn’t argue the Uber part of the scam, but did want to share my very strong (no profanity used) feelings on his actions of the day. Could he care less? No. Did I feel like what I said made a difference? No.

Fuming, I had to wait until he unlocked the doors to let me out. I decided to allow myself a full 15 minutes to rage (in my head) and chastise myself for being taken. Then I was done. My job is not to be a victim and my job is not to try to fix this man. I chose not to let him ruin my wonderfully planned trip to NYC and I didn’t. I know that there are people in the world who lie and deceive and prey upon the trust of others. That’s what they do. And I suppose that’s what they always will do.

The man did not ruin my photography trip to NYC. And no, there was no tip.