It's never great to arrive somewhere totally jet lagged. Unfortunately, having gotten all of four hours of sleep the night before and having endured an eleven hour trip from Newark to Las Vegas (that's another story), I was totally exhausted by the time I entered the crush of humanity at the airport waiting for a cab.
By the time I snaked around six lines of tired and cranky people, I didn't even care where I was. Finally, I dragged myself to my assigned space on the taxi line to catch a legitimate ride to my hotel. However, as I crawled into the back seat of the car, the driver asked a question for which I was totally unprepared: "Do you want the most direct route or do you want the fastest route?"
For those of you who don't know me, I travel extensively as a consultant and speaker, and I travel extensively in my personal life. I pride myself on being fairly savvy about airplanes, trains, and cabs. In fact, I've been to Las Vegas a number of times. But somehow this question had never come up before. "Just get me to my hotel!" I moaned. So the driver took me on what I came to find out was the "fastest route." As we wove on and off the expressway and circled around the Strip, I had a sneaking suspicion that this was not going to be cheap. How much did I spend? Let's just say I had to get more cash when I arrived at my destination.
The next day when I followed up with the cab company, the dispatcher explained the rationale for the question: The fastest route to the Strip isn't necessarily the most direct route and it's always more expensive. But the most direct route to the Strip is likely to take longer despite the cheapest fare. So it may be worth more money to get there faster. Got that?
Once I slept off the jet lag, I had to admit that the logic really does make sense. It all comes down to what we value most: our time or our money. It's not the driver's responsibility or accountability to decide this, yet we often push tough decisions in business or in life onto someone else, and then blame the other person (manager, coworker, spouse, consultant, driver, etc.) when the decision doesn't work out as planned.
The truth is we can and should accept advice from knowledgeable people. That's smart. But ultimately each one of us is responsible and accountable for making the tough calls in our businesses and in our lives. It may not be easy, especially when we're tired and cranky, but it's the most ethical route to travel.