FUDCon - home at last (barely)

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Well, I had a really great time at FUDCon in Raleigh. However, I almost ended up staying the night in jail rather than at home. Here's what happened. and I feel absolutely horrible about it.

I decided that the weather was getting bad here in NYC, so I figured that I would take a cab home. Turns out, that's $80 + toll + tip, so I figured that I wouldn't do that. I figured that I would take the cab to the nearest public transportation hub that's in the city to my apartment - that's the PATH station at 34th and 6th (it's going outside of the city limits that costs so much, since they can't pick anyone up over here).

Most cabs in NYC now have credit card machines in them. This one didn't, and it turns out that's what killed me. The driver said "that's fine, you can stop by the ATM on the way". Sure, not a big deal - just drop by the ATM and grab some cash. Except for I didn't have any money in my checking account. Now, I had no reason to believe that I didn't have the money (which I should have - hindsight is 20/20 as they always say). I had firmly believed that I had booked my hotel room at FUDCon using awards points, When I got the bill this morning, imagine my surprise to find that I had been actually charged for the room. Being stupid, when I checked in, I plopped down my debit card (since this was supposed to cost me nothing). I thought that was really bad, but not the end of the world. Apparently it WAS the end of my checking account. Now, I have two checking accounts - one that I use daily, and another one that I pay the rent out of (and throw a few hundred extra bucks a month in there). They have two separate ATM cards. Having no reason to carry the extra one with me, I don't (that will likely change as a result of this - but there's another reason that I don't carry that card with me - protection from if I lose my wallet I can transfer money around and just use the other account until a new card gets to me).

So I go to the ATM, it won't dispense me any cash, so I get in and inform the driver of this. He proceeds to take me to my destination, but then tells me that he'll have to call the cops if I don't pay him. Since I have no method TO pay him without a bank nearby that's open at 10PM to give me a cash advance on a credit card, I offer to call the cops FOR him - heck, maybe they could think of something that was escaping me before hauling me off to jail. He tells me not to do this, and proceeds to give me a tirade about how he's just trying to make ends meet, that I actually have some supply of money that I'm not telling him about, etc. I think I made it clear that I had a desire to pay him, but it wasn't something that I was able to do exactly that moment. I told him to give me his phone number (which he did not do) so that I could make things right with him, since he doesn't need to pay for my stupidity (there would have been a fat tip in it for him too, but oh well....his loss I guess). I gave him what cash I had ($27 for a $36 ride), and he admonished me to make sure that I actually had money before getting in a cab next time.

Now, if the cab would have had one of those credit card machines in it, I could just put it on one of the 3 CREDIT cards that I carry with me, and everyone would have been happy. But I don't have a PIN those cards for getting cash at an ATM, because, well - I should never have to.

In hindsight, I will NEVER make what could possibly be (but is not supposed to be) a large-ish expense on my debit card, and I'll probably start carrying some "emergency" cash when I travel - I hate carrying cash with a passion, though - I pay for EVERYTHING using my debit card). I also should have checked my checking account from FUDCon since I knew that it was a large expense that I hadn't planned on - I could have transferred money between my two accounts right then and there, and alos not had a problem. Oh well, you live and learn, I guess.

I tried to get into contact with the company that owns the cab (there's a public list of medallion numbers and owners), but there's no listing for them. I called 311, and they told me that they're not directory assistance. Oh well, I tried. Still feel horrible about the whole thing, though - I'm not the kind of person that stiffs someone.

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