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MLA Full: "The Time a Taxi Driver Stole My Money." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 29 April 2016,
MLA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2016)
APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2016, April 29). The Time a Taxi Driver Stole My Money [Video]. YouTube.
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Chicago Full: vlogbrothers, "The Time a Taxi Driver Stole My Money.", April 29, 2016, YouTube, 03:55,
It's funny, for such a little thing, I've thought a lot about this. I often feel bad for feeling bad about it. Like, driving a taxi is not a great job, and I'm sure drivers deserve to be paid more. But I also really dislike attitudes that enable people to break trust and take advantage of other people. And I really dislike being taken advantage of. It's a really unpleasant sensation and it makes me suddenly wary that it's happening all the time. And, often, that wariness results in me thinking I'm being ripped off when I'm really not, which then just makes it look like I have a massive chip on my shoulder.

Finding the right balance between being open to the world and protecting yourself from being exploited isn't easy. But I'm lucky to be able to be fairly open and take risks that other people might not be able to afford.

Anyway, just a story I wanted to share.


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Good morning, John.

I kinda feel like we've been really fancy on Vlogbrothers lately. (We've) Got music video, big epic collab video, travel vlogs, tax plans, Brazil video... you did a review of Monopoly.

Let's simplify for a while. I'm just gonna tell a story. A couple of years ago I was in the Bay area, I landed and I was going to a hotel that was a while away so I got in a taxi and it took me to the hotel. The taxi driver was super nice. He asked me where I was from, we talked about Montana; he asked me why I was there, we talked about why I was there, which was that I was doing a thing for the launch of Randell Munroe's book What If, which is a fantastic book. I even read to him a little bit from the book because I just think "What If" is such a great thing to share with people. But like a paragraph in, the taxi driver, he's like, "Oh no!" So then I am also like, "Oh what oh what happened?" and he tells me that the cable that connects the meter to the transmission has fallen out, meaning it hadn't recorded the first part of our journey, and if he plugged it in now then he'd only get paid for half. But he said he'd be fine because this trip a lot, and he knows how much it costs, so he'll just charge me that. We get to the hotel, and he tells me, "120 bucks", and I say, "Okay." And then I go to bed, and I get up in the morning. I do the event; it's great. And then I get another taxi from that same hotel to the airport and it's 65 bucks.

And then I realized. Like, it didn't even occur to me, but yeah. And, of course, immediately I'm like, "That guy was only nice to me because he wanted to know where I was from; and he was trying to make it seem like there's no way this could be the kind of guy that would take advantage of me, he's so nice." And I think about all the ways in which I could have protected myself from that, like so many common sense little things that I could've done to prevent myself from getting taken advantage of in that way. Mostly just being ashamed that I was such, like, a country bumpkin rube that I was this guy's mark. I was the patsy. And it made me feel like an idiot for trusting someone and not being more skeptical. 

This one little example of the world like not always totally being on my side, and I start rethinking my entire policy of being intentionally over-trusting, which is a thing that I actually think about I want to be that. 

So this guy definitely stole like 50, 60, bucks from me, but that by far was not the greatest negative impact that this experience had on me. Suddenly I'm thinking like, "How do I avoid getting taken advantage of again?" All the space in my brain that my new, like, theft-protection algorithms are going to take up and just generally building a wall between me and the world that's going to decrease my enjoyment of the world. And this from me, a guy who's pretty much got the whole world on his side: I'm a straight white dude with money. Just one little betrayal and I'm rethinking the way I think about all other humans? Come on!

Maybe every act of trust is a gamble that we choose to make. But I think the feeling of being taken advantage of is way less pleasant than the feeling of having your trust be justified and having the good, desired outcome happen. On the scale of violations of trust, of course, a taxi driver stealing your money and you not being smart enough to, like, realize it's happening is reeeaally far down the scale. I don't want to say that this was like a huge, terrible thing that happened to me. I'm just surprised at the impact it had on me; and I feel like if I let that change the way I think about the world, that's not bad for the scammer or the thief, that's bad for me.

But if that guy is rationalizing his theft, or if anybody is rationalizing them taking advantage of other people by saying, "Yeah, that person can afford to have that stuff taken from them", whatever that is, maybe.  Maybe that's the case. Maybe I can afford to have 60 bucks stolen from me, but I don't think that our society can afford to be constantly looking over its shoulder. We have to be able to trust each other, or society falls apart. That, to me, is the true untold, unrecognized cost of being the kind of person who takes advantage of other people's trust. That thing, not the theft, is what ends up making the world a significantly worse place, and it makes me really angry. 

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.

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