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Cabbies can be a player's best friend!


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First of all, according to the report, he did not go out of his way to return it because he did not know it was in his vehicle. Secondly, of course rewards are generally pro-rated according to the value of the object or relative heartache that would have been incurred if the item had gone missing forever. When was the last time someone received a hundred dollar reward for returning a lost umbrella or library book? What would be a suitable reward if someone were to stumble upon the missing "Storm on the Sea of Galilee" by Rembrandt? A hundred dollars? For a painting worth more than some republics?

Your are correct that greed should not prevail over honesty, and Mr. Quint was perhaps greedy in not wanting to hand over a decent reward to a hard working lug who has certainly had very few of the opportunities or luxuries like those afforded to say a pampered and celebrated violin player, even if only to spare any additional embarrassment. His career as a functioning musician arguably hung in the balance of the outcome, for there would likely not pass a day for which he would not have rued his mistake.

If you agree that a reward of some kind (or shall we say an offering of sorts) should have been given, which I am confident you do, then the question is, how much. There must be some way of determining an amount, and the mechanics of arriving at an answer is not rocket science.

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This is silly.

Why must everything be measured in monetary terms?

The player was a dumb-ass.

The cabby did nothing.

Random "happy ending" - World Heritage scored.

End of story.

Unless somebody would like to come up with a monetary formula for a reward when somebody's life is saved.

Besides, the cabby might have been criminally liable if the did NOT return the fiddle.

So, should he get a gratuity for staying out of jail - or perhaps for being too unconcerned to notice what's going on in his cab?

We can call it the "Three Monkeys Gratuity" - a reward for seeing nothing, hearing nothing, and doing nothing. No shortage of claimants for that one...

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In my previous post, I did not want to infer that some appreciation shouldn't be given, I wanted to get a discussion going. How do you calculate the amount? A specific percentage?

For a $4 million dollar instrument, 10% would be $400,000, 1% would be $40,000. Most people couldn't afford to come up with that kind of cash. I don't have any idea what Philippe Quint is worth, but the fact that he had the instrument on loan is some indication. So, should the instrument's owner pay the reward? Yuen's suggestion might be a reasonable compromise.

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You've got your discussion.

Your suggestions might apply to a bone-fine PI tracking down a missing or stolen item, not somebody driving around with a Strad, blissfully unaware of its presence until alerted to the fact.

I repeat, he was under a legal obligation to return it at that point. Its survival owed absolutely nothing to him.

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The cabby did do something. Even though he did not know it, he transported a four million dollar violin for an extended period of time, and he performed the task admirably. At the very least, he should have been offered the full fare as Iburkhard cleverly suggested. There is no need for a formula for saving a life because the situation is entirely different than saving or safeguarding inanimate objects, and if this point needs elaboration, well, then there is no hope for understanding.

Jacob, do you ever tip? If you do, did you know there are some people who never do simply because they think it is unnecessary? In fact, they are right. Why should anyone tip someone who is already earning a wage? The reason is simple, because it is an unmandated and yet socially desirable action performed by the majority of humans. It is simply built into the fabric of some types of business without recourse to laws which you use as a reason for not giving a reward.

The same goes for rewarding persons who play a significant part in the good keeping and safe return of an important thing. Even when the only ethical procedure is predetermined- as you have carefully laid out- a good will gesture is almost always offered. Why the practice is so old, I am certain that the earliest example would be a caveman handing over a slab of meat to another after forgetting his favorite club on the back of someone else's wheel.

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Hi G,

Of course I tip. I tip people who do what they are supposed to do, and do so with dedication and panache. For instance, whether I tip and how much depends upon the quality of service provided by the waiter.

If the cabby delivered a bomb unknowingly to a certain destination (instead of ferrying a Strad around), would you tip or prosecute him?

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Even though you have occasionally referred to yourself as a dumbass, your theoretical construction, to which the natural response you were seeking -and get from me- is neither tip nor prosecute, reminds me that you are more clever than you sometimes feign.

But the question is merely a ruse, constructed for a single purpose, and does not reflect reality. The truth is, for every written rule and law of the land, there are times when the appropriate action is governed by discretion, and my discretion tells me that it is logical and acceptable to reward the unknowing Strad transporter and not the unknowing bomb transporter for reasons that are almost too primitive to convey. If pressed for a reason, I would start by saying that one situation causes pain and suffering and the other causes jubilation.

A soup kitchen worker might hand over an extra bun to someone who looks particularly famished. If the rule is one bun per person, should the worker be punished? If an uninsured person pushes a child away from the path of a speeding car and sustains injury, should he have to pay his own medical bills? The examples of situations that demand discretion come in an infinite number of factual permutations, and my discretion (along with the discretion of many other people) tells me that the good will gesture in this case was not commensurate with the heartache spared, no matter the finer details.

One last point, this has nothing to do with the cabby and everything to do with good will. At the end of the day, each of us would have reacted differently in the same circumstance, and I know what I would have done. I would have made the cabby as happy as I would have been to get it back.

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So I'm in this restaurant, and the waiter can't seem to see me; not interested atall in making my meal memorable, at least in a pleasant way. So I leave him twenty bucks on a fifteen dollar meal. Next time, he treats me like royalty; I leave him pocket change. As I head for the door, he says what's this, last time you give me a huge tip, this time chump change? Wassup? So I tell him, the first tip was for this time; this tip was for last time.

The insurance company ought to give the poor cabbie at least a grand or two for his trouble. These guys are not getting rich hauling idiot fiddlers around, and when the word goes out, you bet the next cabbie will take extra care about what he finds languishing in the back seat. It's just good business, and only about a quarter of a tenth of one percent of their potential liability in the affair.

The violinist falls regrettably toward one side of the cheapskate-mensch continuum. Still, better than a sharp stick in the eye.

I like GMM22's last line. Class act there.

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This is essentially a philosophical issue. The discussion necessarily reduces to differences in views on ethics.

Some schools of thought hold kindness very high in their hierarchy of values, even to the point of seeing it as a duty. Those who subscribe to such views will think a reward proper, and the degree of the reward will depend on the ratio between the their views on kindness and on self-sacrifice.

Other schools of thought hold self-responsibility towards the top of their hierarchy. The proponents will tend to think of a reward as optional rather than a duty, to be measured partly according to the nature of the actions involved. Indeed this school may trend so far as to advocate that the cabbie refuse the reward from an unwillingness to benefit from someone else's misfortune or from the implied possibility that he might have kept the violin (i.e. "thanks for not stealing my violin!")

There are no doubt other ethical bases for having one position or the other on this question.

Such philosophical differences don't usually get equalized over the dinner table or over years of conversation between friends, so a thread like this is ultimately on the order of a survey. So far a rather polite one, well done.

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I've got to admit I don't "get" this.

The tip analogy is based on somebody doing something, even if it is just doing his job, nothing more.

The cabby did nothing (read the report). He didn't take the fiddle somewhere, nor did he inform anybody that he had found it (because he didn't find it - he was informed about its presence in his cab).

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That is a remarkable observation that might not have been known otherwise. For obviously successful people, the lack of common sense and tact is eye opening. The player, for his absentmindedness and meagre reward, and the owner, for not allowing the player to retain a modicum of dignity by surrendering it in private.

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Good PR!......Now we know the name of the player and his Strad!.......To be honest I thought the players response was mean fgrom the reports I read...tickets to his concert + $100!....The taxi guy can't even take his mistress out on that let alone his family. If I was the player I would have given the taxi driver something to make him feel the same level of joy that I felt to experience the return of the Strad. That would be at least $1000 cash. It would have been SO easy for the taxi driver to trash the violin when tidying the taxi. Next I would ask this guy to be my main taxi if possible.

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Grammy-nominated violinist Quint performs for taxi driver who recovered rare instrument

The Associated Press

Published: May 6, 2008

NEWARK, New Jersey: Grammy-nominated violinist Philippe Quint was playing a special concert for taxi drivers at Newark Liberty International Airport as a reward for a cabbie who returned his rare violin.

About 200 cab drivers have filled a parking lot next to a highway where trucks thunder past for Tuesday's lunchtime concert performed to thank driver Mohamed Khalil.

Quint left his 285-year-old Stradivari in a taxi on a ride home from the airport last month. Khalil discovered the $4 million (€2.6 million) instrument and returned it.

Along with several solo pieces, Quint also has teamed with guitarist Michael Bacon - brother of actor Kevin Bacon - on a blues number that has some people dancing on the blacktop.

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