Driver should have spotted multiple warning signs as soon as she said where she wanted to go.

On Sunday, a woman hopped into a taxi and told the driver “Please take me to the Tottori Sand Dunes.”

In and of itself, that’s not so weird. The dunes are Tottori Prefecture’s number-one tourism destination, a rare sight in a country where mountains and dense forests are the normal topography, but with Tottori being a fairly rural place they don’t get quite enough visitors to warrant their own in-walking-distance train station. So for visitors who don’t feel like waiting for the infrequent bus service hopping into a cab instead is a viable option.

▼ The Tottori Sand Dunes

However, two things were very unusual about the woman’s request. First, she got into the taxi at 2:30 in the morning, a time when most people who are still out are heading home, not heading to the sights. And second, she got into a taxi that was parked at Totsuka Station in the city of Yokohama, half-way across the country from Tottori.

It’s a 646-kilometer (401-mile) drive from Yokohama to the dunes, passing through the greater metropolitan areas of Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka before heading north all the way across the main island of Honshu to the Sea of Japan coastline. Google Maps spits back an expected driving time of eight hours, which involves extensive use of expressway toll roads, which are customarily added to the passenger’s fare.

But apparently the driver decided that if the woman was up for a cruise across the country in the middle of the night, he was happy to oblige, and so they set off. Perhaps because much of their journey was happening before morning rush hour, they made good time, and the drive to the Sand Dunes took them “only” eight hours. Once they arrived, the driver calculated the woman’s total fare, which came to 236,690 yen (US$2,287), only to have her inform him:

“I have no money on me.”

In actuality, she had a few hundred yen, but that was still nowhere near enough to settle her bill. So instead of dropping the woman off at the dunes, the driver started up the car again and drove her to the local police station, where she was placed under arrest on suspicion of fraud. However, it’s possible that she won’t be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, given some other unusual circumstances. Not only did she not have any money on her, she also had no form of ID, and when asked her name and address, replied that she did not know either of them.

Because of that, the woman, who is estimated to be in her 40s, may be suffering from mental issues, in which case it’s unlikely that the taxi company would seek compensation for the full amount of her fare. In all honesty, it’s unusual that the driver agreed to the odyssey without first confirming that the woman actually had the means to pay for such a long ride. 2:30 a.m. is right in the middle of the block of time between the last train of the night and the first train of the following morning, and a large proportion of the people looking for cabs then are people who were out drinking and lost track of time. Since the inebriated don’t always have the soundest logic or sharpest math skills, if you’re getting into a cab in the middle of the night and telling the driver you want to go somewhere far away, it’s not uncommon for them to ask to see that you have a significant amount of cash on you before they agree, and odds are the driver had plenty of time to regret not doing that during his 646-kilometer drive back to Yokohama.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun via Livedoor News, Sankei News
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Wikipedia/Hashi photo
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