Vomiting in Cars: Pass the $50


scooby doo


Did you know that taxi cabs have a vomiting service fee. More often than not, the fee is $50? This is now pretty standard. Every single cab I took in Chicago recently had the vomit service fee prominently displayed. One of my Uber drivers was telling me that she is not afraid of someone vomiting in her car -which apparently happens a lot in Los Angeles on any given Friday or Saturday night. She is not afraid of it because then she gets to charge the passenger $50 as a cleaning fee. I laughed at her glee at this possibility. But I should have asked her how did she get to charge that? Is there a special icon for vomit? Does she need to photograph it? But when did this become standard fee and what does that standard vomit fee say about society overall?


Is society drunker?  The media notes we are angrier as a society. Although, it maybe that people are doing less drunk driving?  Or have cab drivers have gotten savvy to the fee add-ons?  Could it be that we don’t care anymore about vomit decorum and etiquette.? All of the above?


Many years ago, when I was 16, I had a cab-vomiting experience. I wasn’t ill with motion sickness, which happens to me a lot when I sit in a backseat.  I was severely drunk. Now before you judge me for being severely drunk at 16, please note I was living in Spain where I was at their legal drinking age. I was perfectly legal and perfectly stupid. I was. I learned that my body doesn’t like Kahlua followed by Bailey’s. Since that cab-vomit ride, I haven’t touched  either of those drinks. Just smelling them or even writing about it now makes me a bit queasy.

That night started fun enough at a club where a bunch of ex-patriots were hanging out. It was like a scene out of that movie Barcelona. We kept drinking and drinking. I didn’t pay for a single drink. Maybe that was the problem. Because it didn’t hit my wallet, I was feeling no pain No pain until it hit closing time. At that point, I couldn’t even remember my name or address.  My friend called a cab, got me into the cab and stayed with me throughout the ride. He even held my hair as I threw up. But I was smart. even in my state, I didn’t want to screw over the cab driver. So, I opened the window and puked through it.  There was no $50 service fee. Or at least I personally didn’t pay one.

I look back at that and shake my head at myself. I was young and stupid. I think we all were at some point.  But that was stupid. I am lucky to have had a good friend to take care of me back then as I stupidly made it home. Now, though, stupidity has a surcharge added. Vomit in the cab, pay up.



On another Uber ride, my driver proudly noted that his car was all ready for the Los Angeles partiers. He had fragrance spray, small paper bags and large hefty bags. All for just in case someone pukes in his car. he noted “its all good”. That is what he is there for. He hopes to be remembered and then develop his own clientele list from his above-and-beyond Uber services.  I think he might even hold your hair back. So, he will provide you with water, garbage bags and still get the $50 fee. And if you are able to remember him, he might even have his own small growing clientele list. Nothing says personalized service than being there for you when you puke.


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