Q: I'm going to New York City on a business trip. What do I need to know about hailing cabs? In my hometown, I've only called for a cab in advance to take me to the airport. I've never actually hailed one on the street. Do you really yell, "Taxi!" or whistle, or have I just seen too many movies?
A: I think it's more important to stand somewhere where the driver can clearly see you and then stick your arm out deliberately rather than whistle or yell. I'm sure those ear-splitting whistles work, but I can't do one and I've never felt the need to learn. A few other things you need to know:
First, if it's raining, cabs are scarce. Leave extra time to find one or take the subway instead. Also, while cab drivers are required to take you anywhere you want in the five boroughs and Westchester County, they don't always like to do that. If it's close to the time their shift ends, they may stop, roll down their window and ask where you're going.
If you're in downtown Manhattan and say, "La Guardia," and the driver's shift is supposed to end in 20 minutes, he will most likely roll up the window and drive away. So, as soon as a cab stops for you, get in and sit down before announcing where you're going. They might make a stink, but once you're in the cab you can get the medallion number and report them if they refuse to take you to your destination.
Finally, if you're having trouble hailing a cab for any reason, go to the nearest nice department store or hotel. The doorman there can usually hook you up in relatively short order. Just remember to tip him a couple of bucks for his trouble.
Q: Are you supposed to leave a tip on the table or in the little folder they bring the bill to you in? My brother-in-law makes a big deal of always leaving it on the table, kind of spread out so the server (and everyone else) can see how much he's tipping.
A: It's fine to leave a tip on the table or in the folder. The server won't care. But even though I think it's great your brother-in-law is a generous tipper (or at least I assume he is!), putting on a show about how generous you are is tacky.
Q: I recently heard about a conference that I'd like to attend -- the topics are very pertinent to my job. My boss agreed and approved my registration, even though the fee was about $1,000.
The conference takes place in another city that's either a short flight or a long drive from where I live; I was planning to fly. Well, a colleague of mine heard about it, too, and mentioned to our boss that she would like to go. Our boss said he'd only pay for her to attend if we drive together. He doesn't want to pay for two round-trip plane tickets.
Since I asked about it first and am already registered, I can go alone and fly, but she'd be shut out. Also, I can't stand this particular colleague. The idea of spending 10-plus hours on a road trip with her makes my skin crawl. Should I quickly book flights and then say sorry, I already made flight reservations last week? What do you think?
A: I think it's crummy of your boss to put you in this position! He must either be completely unaware that there's trouble between you and your co-worker, or he's the sort of person who enjoys putting other people in complicated ethical situations. Either way: not a great boss.
I would NOT book flights now and pretend you booked them last week. You'll have to submit some kind of receipt as part of your expense report, I assume, and your boss can probably see the booking date on that. I think your best option is to suck it up and take one for the team.
Get some audiobooks if you're worried about talking with your colleague for that long. And look at it this way -- at worst, you'll come away with some good stories about how awful your co-worker is. At best, you might get to know her a bit better and find out she's not so bad.
Email travel-etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at email@example.com.