Uptown, That'll Be $20; Upchuck, That'll Be $120

Dirver And Mom Square Off Over Tot's Tummy Trouble

By Andrew Siff
|  Tuesday, Oct 26, 2010  |  Updated 9:06 AM EDT
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Who Pays For The Clean-up?

Who Pays For The Clean-up?

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After six year old Jacob Cuthbert drank a Vanilla shake, he felt a little queasy.

"I just went up and threw up," said Jacob.

Unfortunately for Jacob's mom and a cab driver, the first grader's choice of where he lost his lunch -- was the back seat of a taxi.

"Nobody will come in my cab after you because of that stink," driver Nahidul Islam recalled telling the boy's mother.

Shamie Cuthbert told nbcnewyork she felt bad about her son's little incident, so she offered to clean it up. "The first thing that went through my mind is how much money do I have, I'll just swipe my debit card and give him everything I have."

But Mr. Islam was not impressed. He suggested she follow him out to the shop in Queens, where whatever the cleaning bill amounted to, she'd pay it.

"That stink can last for 15 days," said Islam.

And he has defenders. The Taxi Drivers' Alliance says sick passengers take their toll on an honest hack's bottom line.

"This is not some rich coporation," said Bhairavi Desai of the union. "This is a hard working individual working day to day."

But Ms. Cuthbert said the driver crossed the line when he made it seem like she had to pay the full cleaning bill or she'd be breaking the law.

"Lying and telling someone to give money," she said. "It's extortion."

In the end, she paid the $20 fare plus a $5 tip for the ride from the West Side to Washington Heights. The driver said 48 hours later, his cab still stinks. Jacob is feeling better.

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