If it was ever in doubt before—and it certainly wasn’t to me—ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg officially entered the category of “weenie” this past Thursday morning. He also entered a few other categories as well, like “arrogant SOB,” “cheapskate,” and let’s throw in “insensitive, presumptuous boob” while we’re at it. I suppose he also enters the category of “stupid guy,” for telling the story that exposed his own self for the supercilious phony that he is.
With great relish, Greenberg told his sub-normal-IQ sidekick Mike Golic the tale of arriving in his Washington, D.C., hotel room—both were in the Nation’s Capital to cover the national spelling bee—only to discover that he must have left his credit card in his taxicab. Greenberg fretted and then considered calling his credit card company to cancel the card—having assumed the worst, of course.
Later, he received a phone call from the hotel front desk, and then was connected to the taxi driver himself, calling to say that he was at the airport and had found Greenberg’s credit card, and that he would return it to him as soon as possible.
A half hour later, there’s a knock on Greenberg’s door and it’s the cabbie, with the credit card. At this point during the on-air radio exchange, Goonie Golic ventured that he assumed that Greenie threw the cabbie a tip for making the extra run, suggesting a $20 bill.
Here’s where it gets ugly: Greenie then launched into a completely bogus rationale, how it never occurred to him to give the cabbie a tip, and that, furthermore, this was an opportunity for the cabbie to share in the “good karma” that comes with being honest.
I don’t know which airport the cabbie was coming from, Reagan National or BWI or Dulles, but it hardly matters. Cab drivers are working men. I know. I drove a cab for four years in the Chicago area from 1995-99. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences I ever had, but I can tell you this for sure: Most cab drivers are amazingly decent and very human people. The stories of how each of them—men and women alike—have come to drive their taxis are consistently interesting, and sometimes inspiring. Cab drivers are ex-Vietnam vets, and former convicts trying to get straight, and otherwise guys and gals trying to figure out their lives just like everybody else. The cabbie experience unites them with humanity. They see it all, they put up with a lot of crap, and 99% of the time they do their jobs diligently and with as much honor as they can, especially given that society—and arrogant SOBs like Greenberg—generally categorize them as semi-lovable losers. This despite the fact that cab drivers are killed on city streets with as much frequency as police officers.
But back to Greenberg’s non-tip. Cabbies are working men, and their time—and gas—is money. Any sensitive human being with half a brain would know this, and that cabbie deserved money for his time and effort. It’s a total no-brainer. Not to mention the hassle Greenberg was saved by not having to cancel his credit card and go through getting a new account number.
Here’s what we know about Greenberg, since he’s such a bigmouth on his radio show, constantly relating his precious personal life on a daily basis (as if everyone wanted to know): He seems to come from an upscale New York home. He attended Northwestern University outside of Chicago. It’s not a cheap school. In fact, it’s a very expensive school, and sons who come from rich families—guys like Greenberg—go there. After graduation, Greenberg hooked up with local Chicago sports radio, and then weenied his way into the ESPN fraternity. He apparently lives with his perfect young family in a large, spacious home—Golic refers to it on-air—and he likes to remind his listeners that he doesn’t do blue-collar stuff. Greenie wants us to know that he’s the “eggheaded” kinda sports guy—all knowledge and subtle insight, of the type that eludes Goonie Golic. (Well, of that there is no doubt, but that’s not saying anything. Golic can hardly stammer successfully.)
So I guess if you’re an arrogant, ambitious New York type like Greenberg, you probably look down on cab drivers. You probably think they are lowly scum, and hence it would never even occur to you to compensate someone like that for their extra effort on your behalf. Because people like that, well, they’re just not in Greenberg’s caste. And why, after all, would he even think to part with some of his money just because the cabbie was “doing his job”?
Duhhhh...because I suspect that Greenberg wouldn’t know a hardship if it bit him in the ass. He lives a cushy, moneyed life, gabbing on the radio about sports, but just as often engaging in his own self-promotion, mainly because his ego is out of control, and, as this real-life incident exemplifies, he hasn’t a clue about what most people in this country must go through in order to maintain even a lower-middle-class life-style.
More telling is the fact that Greenberg shared the anecdote on-air, knowing that the tale would culminate with his insensitivity and stinginess. But then why would that matter if you’re totally unaware of what a cretin you are?
Good move, Greenie. On all fronts. Score one for arrogance. Then subtract about a million from the human kindness scale.