Last night, on my way back from a Berlinale film, I missed the U2 at Alexanderplatz by 30 seconds.
Faced with a 15-minute wait for the next train, I made the rational decision that I could afford a taxi, and so I went to find one.
I will readily admit that I had not examined my wallet closely before getting in the taxi, but I was reasonably confident that I could afford the ride – and even if I had, I wouldn’t have noticed anything was amiss.
The taxi ride from Alexanderplatz to my home cost 14€.
I pulled out my wallet, opened it, and found a 20€ bill, pulling it out, I said to the driver, “15€” – giving him a 1€ tip.
I thought this was reasonable. And so did he.
Except that he couldn’t make change – he couldn’t give me back 5€.
Instead of making a big deal out of it, and after I showed him that I had more money—but, paperwise, I had nothing remotely useful, he asked what coins I had, took my 1€ coin, gave me a ten and called it even –so 11€ for my taxi ride.
Feeling vaguely guilty, I gave him the rest of my coins, which probably amounted to 30-40 cents.