Not in a New York taxi anyway. Logically you would think that if a taxi shows a light on its roof it is available for hire. Well it is and it isn’t. A taxi shows a light for available and it goes off when it picks up a passenger and becomes unavailable. But it also has two smaller lights on either side that say off duty. From a distance it is hard to tell which is on and it is very annoying. This annoyance is componded by the advertising shaped like a luminous toblerone stuck to the roof of the taxi that stays lit regardless. We aren’t the only ones to feel this way and the rather boring sounding but self explanatory New York Taxi and Limousine Commission met a couple of weeks ago to agree with us that this is a barmy system and should be phased out. So by the Spring all taxis are either available or unavailable. Doesn’t mean they will take any notice of you when you are waving your arm in the pouring rain trying to get one to stop, though.
Or not as the case may be. Tipping as something I do when in a restaurant, mostly taken care of by the bill coming with 10 – 15 per cent tip included and I don’t think too much about it. I’ll tip the cab driver, give the guy who delivered my paper in the sun, rain and snow at Christmas and that’s about it. In the US, and in particular here in New York, tipping is a way of life and it is expected. I am told that the tip should generally be double the sales tax, which in New York is 8.875 per cent. This is fine if you have bought a service, like a meal, a cab ride, a pedicure etc. Confusion begins when there is no sales tax barometer to use. So what to give the guy who delivers my groceries on Sunday afternoon. I ask the doorman in my building and he is reluctant to advise when I ask, but comes up with 3-4 dollars. So I give the very pleasant delivery guy 4 dollars and he seems happy. I am typically British in my nervousness in not wanting to cause offence by getting the tip wrong but too embarrased to ask every time. I think it may take some time to work this one out. And most importantly, I must stop thinking that the tip is the place R likes to go on a Sunday afternoon with a car load of rubbish.