The story of the Bryant 11-year-old who took $10,000 from her grandmother's sock drawer and then struck a $2,500 deal with a Little Rock Yellow Cab driver ($1,300 up front) to drive her from a Little Rock doughnut shop to visit a boy in Jacksonville, Fla., has pretty well gone viral on the web.
A search began and the girl was found in Georgia
and reunited with family unharmed.
My favorite part of the story came from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporting
Ellis Houston, a managing partner with Greater Little Rock Transportation Services, which operates Little Rock Yellow Cab, said long-distance fares don't happen everyday but are not unusual. The trip went through dispatch and appeared "legit," he said.
No, I'm not quibbling with the notion that the 11-year-old might have looked legal. I'm interested in the notion that a $2,500 cab ride could look legit.
It's 830 miles to Jacksonville, Fla., a 12-hour ride at least. She called the cab at 3:30 a.m. last Friday. She could have hopped a Delta flight at the Little Rock airport at 10:25 a.m. that same morning and arrived in Jacksonville before the cab for a same-day fare, with return ticket, of $950. Hotwire probably could beat that.
Kids aren't always swift thinkers, but this one is pretty cagey, you have to admit, figuring a way to get cash, get out of Bryant and make travel plans.
I wonder: Would an Uber driver have taken this fare? And, if so, what would the rate have been?
I was curious whether Yellow Cab held onto the $1,300 for what turned out to be a 480-mile ride.
Drem Petrimoulx of KARK/Fox 16 reports that the cab company delivered a check for $1,300 back to the family today and the driver apologized.
I talked later myself with Ellis Houston, who said the company had paid the grandmother $1,300, though the cab driver insisted the girl had only given him $500 initially. He said he wanted to be sure the grandmother was made whole and couldn't explain the discrepancy in accounts, though he noted the girl had gotten one other ride between her grandmother's home in Bryant and the doughnut shop, from a Bryant coonvenience store.. He said that refunds were the policy his company followed whenever someone complained of an overcharge or, say, missed a plane. "We pay," he said.
Houston said the driver wouldn't be docked for the payment of the excess $800, but he'd have to pay for his gas and motel. "When you do a stupid thing, you have to pay for it," he said. He said the driver had perhaps exercised poor judgment in not quizzing his fare more, but he said the girl looked older and the company doesn't routinely check for IDs because of privacy issues. It was the middle of the night, the girl had money and he said, though it might seem unusual, cabbies periodically get requests for long hauls. He said one of his drivers once drove someone to Anchorage, Alaska. "We don't ask why," he said.
Houston said the company's technology allows it to know instantly where a cab is, so when police traced a phone call from the girl's phone to a cab company, he was instantly able to tell police the driver was near Atlanta and to give them a number to call the driver, who pulled over to meet police. He said the driver had a good record of long service.