We are quite familiar with the phase, "We all learn from our mistakes." Nothing smacks you in the face as a poor decision, but, once that mistake is made, it is rarely repeated by the same person. We need to learn from the decision and move forward.

Once in a while, a poor decision is made. It is frustrating that the decision was made, but even more irritating is the feeling of stupidity or naivity that contributed to the choice. And, in those cases, we learned from it but can be too embarrassed to admit the error in judgment and, therefore, others do not learn from it. It is left there for them to make the same poor choice you did, if not advised correctly.

Earlier this week, I took a "limousine" to the airport, which in common terms is a large sedan with a guy in a tie as the driver. The taxi line was going to be a 30-minute wait. We did not ask how much the ride would be, but he was heading to the airport for a pickup anyway, so it was not an inch out of his way. He was a friendly enough fellow, talked about his children in college and had a quaint chat on the 15 minutes to the airport. Once at the airport, we were smacked with a $25 fare which we paid and grumbled under our breath. From there, we hailed a cab to the local baseball field to catch a Saturday spring training game. Again, did not ask ahead of time of the cost, just saw the meter there, and figured, a fare is the same, so take a yellow cab to the game; $26 later, we arrived at the game.

I let my frustration with the transportation subside while I enjoyed the World Champion San Francisco Giants play their second game of spring training and defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers. For the return to the hotel, we were going to have a better plan. While checking out the local Scottsdale area, an extended golf cart was driving around with a very casually dressed guy with a Packer hat. Well, that looked like a good sign (to people from Wisconsin). He asked where we were headed and said, anywhere downtown, but we asked for the cost of the fare. (we were learning) "No cost, just tips", he replied. Pretty good deal, we thought. He dropped us at a local eating establishment, told us to see his buddy the bartender and tell him "EZ "sent us. We found "Slater", enjoyed half-off appetizers and some Phoenix sun. We checked out the area and needed a ride back to the hotel. Not wanting to deal with a $50 cab ride back to the hotel, we weighed our options: go with a random cab company waiting outside the restaurant or call "EZ's Limosine Service". We thought for a bit and decided EZ treated us well earlier, and, afterall, he was wearing a Packer hat. As EZ's car arrived, the customer service person for EZ called to verify that the car had arrived, and we confirmed - just a little extra customer service. However, this time, we asked how much to get us to the hotel, to which the driver replied, $25. We asked him to repeat his charge, and then quickly jumped in the car and headed to the hotel. Half the cost of the initial trip.

So, lessons learned. . . .
1. Just because someone dresses in a tie does not mean they are a better service provider than a casually dressed Packer fan nicknamed EZ.

2. Ask ahead of time what the cost will be, so there are no surprises and scenic routes taken to run up the meter.

3. Reward those who have served you well in the past.

4. Convenience in taking a waiting cab was set aside in favor of a company with a positive previous experience.

Now, these lessons can be applied to much more serious matters involving larger purchases like equipment and repair services. Appearances can be deceiving, ask for costs ahead of time, work with those with proven performance, and select people to work with based on performance and not simply on convenience. And, when we make mistakes, share them with others so they do not repeat your mistakes and hope they do the same for you. Learn from your mistakes and hopefully from others as well.