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December 29, 2007

December 29, 2007 – Thank You Sir, May I Have Another!

Today I got a ticket in Cortez by the “Sarge.”  Yeah, he had a mustache, portly fellow he was.  I wouldn’t doubt he likes bologna. 

            Sarge: License and registration please.
Sarge: Do you know why I stopped you.
            Me: No
Sarge: Well you can’t make a U-Turn here, and even if you could you cant do it on a red arrow.
Me: (Staring at officer)
Sarge: Hold on.

            It’s never very promising when the cop tells you to hold on.  Just sitting there in the car, waiting impatiently, wondering if you are going to get a ticket.  People driving by and staring like you just got caught clubbing baby seals or something.   I almost always get the ticket, so that’s what I expect, but when I don’t I’m pleasantly surprised.

December 10, 2007

December 10, 2007 – Kirk

            And then there’s Kirk… 

Boy, this guy’s a piece of work.  Where do I start…  Well, Kirk is a fifty something, fat, bald, lonely loser who works EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR. He works every fucking day, unless the car is broken, or he’s in jail, which happens from time to time.  Once Kirk disappeared for about 5 weeks.  Everyone was baffled.  No one could figure out why he hadn’t been coming in.  When one of the drivers inquired about his whereabouts the office told him that Kirk had taken a vacation.  Not too long afterwards Bertha spilled the beans, well not literally, she would never spill food.  Not on purpose at least.  Now that I think of it, she probably spills things all the time, having those fatty fingers and all.  They look like bratwursts, and just like bratwursts they’re always covered in grease.

Turns out that Kirk did a little time for beating up his landlord.  Or so the story goes…  Kirk is just another angry bitter old man.  A complete asshole to everyone, and for no reason.  It’s like he feeds off others contempt for him.  I just can’t fathom it – going to work with the sole purpose of alienating all your co-workers.  This is a man who should not be working with the general public.  He should be working the night shift at a Panamanian box making factory.  Ok, it doesn’t have to be in Panama, or even be a factory that assembles boxes, but you get the point.

I heard a funny conversation on the radio today between Kirk and another driver.

Kirk: Cab 300.
Dispatch: Who called?
Kirk: …ab  30…
Kirk: Cab 3….
Dispatch: Who’s calling!
Kirk: Some queer’s playing with the radio.
Unknown: Wha Wha Whaaaaa.
Kirk: Why don’t you say that to my face.
Unknown: Wha Wha Whaaaaa.
Kirk: Oh what a coward.
Dispatch: Let him talk!

People always give Kirk shit.  Exchanges like this on the radio have become commonplace.  Kirk doesn’t have a cell phone either.  Really?  Who in this day in age doesn’t have a cell phone?  When the drivers are especially persistent with interrupting Kirk’s transmissions on the radio he is forced to find a payphone and call the office.  Just like Jorge – see a pattern emerging…? 

 This isn't Kirk, but the resemblance is uncanny!  And just like Kirk, he's a psycho too.  I'll have to get a picture of him and do a side by side comparison.

I’ve noticed that there are really no penalties handed down to drivers for bad behavior.  The office doesn’t seem to punish anyone, at least for bickering on the radio with other drivers.  What surprises me is that the office has no idea why certain drivers are routinely taunted.  Catherine seems to think that Kirk is such a hard worker and some great guy and only gets picked on because he makes more money than everyone else.  That may be true, the latter at least.  He does work like 80 hours a week. 

December 6, 2007

December 6, 2007 – Mr. Banning

           Julie: Cab 34
           Cab 34: Cab 34 Go ahead
           Julie: Pick up Mr. Banning at 1820 in The Palms
           Cab 34: …I just got a flag

           Julie is probably the only one that doesn’t realize that is bullshit.  A “flag” occurs when an individual on the street waves down a taxi as it is driving by unoccupied.  Cab 34 just pretended that he had a customer so that he could avoid the call.  As a transportation service we cannot refuse to pick up customers who telephone the cab office for a pickup.  This is one of the stipulations of the City of Cortez sets for granting us a taxi medallion to work within its jurisdiction.  Or so I’m told…  As often is the case, whenever a call is dispatched to pick up an undesirable customer drivers come up with some type of excuse.

            Julie: Cab 777!
            Cab 77: (Slight pause after debating whether or not to answer…) Go ahead…
            Julie: Pick up Mr. Banning at 1820 in The Palms
            Cab 777: …10-4

            None of us like Mr. Banning.  He is a grumpy old man in his 90’s who is quick to point anything and everything that he doesn’t agree with.  Lets not sugar coat it, he’s an asshole.  As would be expected Mr. Banning is growing increasingly senile and forgetful in his later years.  In addition to being rude, he feels the need to continuously instruct us as to where the most popular Italian restaurant in Cortez is, as if we didn’t know. 


Every once in a while Mr. Banning compliments our driving and we are graciously rewarded with a $.25 tip for our congeniality and driving abilities.  This would be a great tip in the 1940’s.  Unfortunately like many of Cortez’s aging residents, Mr. Banning hasn’t adjusted to inflation and hasn’t yet realized that you can’t get a movie, soda, and popcorn for a quarter anymore.  Truthfully, I can’t name anything you can get for a quarter… 

December 2, 2007

October 1, 2007 – The Cashier

           Every Tuesday morning I come in and pay my cab lease.  Before me sits Stanley, who lest not be confused with our idiot mechanic.  I’m sure Stanley is a nice guy, seems that way at least.  It’s hard to gather much from our conversations.  Well, I don’t know if it is actually a conversation.  I talk and he just mumbles unintelligible words and drools on himself with a glazed over look on his face, reminiscent of something Salvador Dali may have painted.

This isn't Stanley, but he looks like a raisin as well.

Don’t know his exact age, surely approaching the century mark.  I mean he’s really fucking old.  Nothing against old people, but my time is valuable, and I don’t want to spend one more minute than I have to in that office.  I was told that Stanley works here because he is bored, and that he works for free, or next to nothing.   I’ve never seen anyone count money so slow, it takes him like three minutes to count a stack of fifteen $20 bills.  Then he recounts it at least twice, or more if you don’t stop him.  I may just pay with hundreds next time.  I once brought in a dollar coin, which simply baffled him.  I’d be surprised it he had ever heard of a credit card, or if anyone in that office had heard of one for that matter.

October 4, 2007

October 4, 2007 – My Second Ticket

            Got another traffic ticket today…

            Unbeknownst to me it is illegal to make a U-turn in a business district.  Today some punk bike cop pulled me over in the Gaslamp today for just that reason. It was a pretty embarrassing.  I tried to plead ignorance, no dice.  I really had no idea that was a law, I looked all around before I did it to make sure that there were no U-turn signs.  He even gave me shit about not having a trip sheet.  I don’t bother with those, they are a waste of my time.  Every time that I take a ride I call it in to the office anyways, so they have a record of everything.  It seems redundant.

            Why do some cops feel the need to berate you about such trivial matters.  This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered an officer with such a personality.  Just give me ticket and go away, I have important things that I could be doing.  He was acting like he just pulled me over for driving on the sidewalk or something.  The worst part about getting pulled over is all the people that gawk at you as they pass by, like you are some kind of criminal – and I guess technically I am….  As a cab driver they probably already think I’m a shitbag, shouldn’t that be punishment enough?

            I later learned an interesting fact.  If you don’t have residential housing on at least 51% of the street it may count as a business district.  Turns out in Del Mar the local cops take full advantage of this.  In Del Mar there is a beach on the west side of the street and to park you often have to make a U-turn, if you are headed North at least.  Well guess what, it is a residential area, but since there is a beach on the west side of the street that leads to the ocean there are no houses there, so the highest possible percentage of the roadway that could be lined with residential units could be 50%.  I don’t think I could live with myself writing people tickets for shit like that.

October 2, 2007

October 2, 2007 – Grilling

         Kind of a lazy day.  Threw back a few brews, did a little grilling, and shot some pics.  I've been trying to shoot more lately.

         My steak.

         The moon just before dark from my backyard.

September 12, 2007

September 12, 2007 – My First Outburst

            Today I had an outburst.  I feel that it was warranted.

            Dispatch: Cab 777
            Me: 777
            Dispatch: Go to the Cortez Island
            Me: 10-4

            So when I arrive there is no one in the lobby.  I just pulled my taxi up directly outside, which happens to be about 10 feet from the door.  I could have gotten out but there really was no point – I can see anyone who’s inside, and right now it’s empty.  I waited there for a few minutes in case whoever called was running late.

            Me: 777
            Dispatch: 777
Me: There doesn’t seem to be anyone here, did you happen to have any more info?
            Dispatch: Did you go inside?
            Me: There’s no one in there.
            Dispatch: Why don’t you go inside and ask.
            Me:  I can see right from my car, no one is in there to ask.
            Dispatch: Why don’t you get out of your car and go inside and ask.
            Dispatch: (After a long pause) You can landline the office.
            Me: No, I don’t think so.
            Dispatch: You need to landline.
            Me: No, I won’t be doing that.
            Dispatch: If you don’t answer me I’m going to take you off of the board.
            Me: Whatever.
            Dispatch: You need to landline.
            Me: No, I don’t think so.

            Boy this got the office steamed.  I’ve been pretty patient with them talking to me like a child and all.  I’m a grown ass man, and you just don’t bark orders at me like that.  Especially when I haven’t done anything wrong.  This isn’t an isolated incident with the dispatcher either.  She always pulls this shit, and most drivers just bow down to her.  I’m usually really nice to her, even when she’s being a total asshole.  I don’t think “Asshole” is a term that should be strictly reserved for men anyways.

            I’m growing a little tired of these dispatchers being so rude to me.  I’m plenty polite to them.  This is bullshit.  Later in the evening I finally called the dispatcher and she told me that I can’t be talking like that on the radio, we have doctors and lawyers in our cabs.   True, those people do ride in our cabs, but do you think that they really care if the cab drivers aren’t being completely subservient to a dispatcher who is barking orders at them.  Hell, they’re probably cheering me on.

            Here’s a passage that I like from a famous movie –

“Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cu**s, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is a man who stood up.”

September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007 – A Cabbie’s Diet

             Haven’t been eating as well as I should lately…  Most of what I eat comes from a gas station or the local 7-11.  Food at 7-11 can be quite tasty, if you get it at the right time of day, when it is made fresh.  Not so much at 11 p.m.  The chicken wings are delicious when they are fresh, they would make George Foreman proud.  Does he eat like that anymore?  I know he came out with that grill of his, you know the one that drains all the fat and grease off.  Seems like a waste.  I’d suggest passing on the dipping sauce however.  BBQ is ok, but the ranch has a funny aftertaste.  It’s a little sour. 

            Same deal with the pizza, pretty good when it’s fresh.  It’s not gourmet by any means, but you can’t beat it for a dollar.  The cheese is extra stringy and juicy when it’s fresh.  The crust fairly crunchy too, a little on the doughy side, but once again people, it’s a dollar. 

            Sometimes it’s just too busy to stop in and get something made hot and I end up getting a candy bar.  I’m partial to candy with peanut butter in it.  Something crunchy can be nice too.  I don’t eat plain chocolate too often, unless it’s dark chocolate, which happens to be good for you, within reason.  I think that the office workers took that literally.   Perhaps they heard bacon, ice cream, and cake batter is good for you too, could they have been misinformed…?

            But my major vice is energy drinks.  I’m partial to Monster brand.  The low carb ones, I don’t like all that sugar, and the potential for cavities.  I learned my lesson after eating all of those little peppermints that you see at restaurants – you know the ones with the red and white swirls.  I drink like 4 of these energy drinks a day.  The 16 oz. ones!  I may drink the Rockstar ones if they are on sale, but they have to be significantly cheaper, they aren’t all that good.  Half the time they don’t even seem to give me energy, I actually feel more tired after drinking them sometimes.  More than anything, I just like the taste.  
            On a sidenote today is September 11.  

I hope everyone is able to take a moment and think about how our world was changed 6 years ago today and reflect upon things. And perhaps say thanks to a policeman, a firefighter, or an ordinary good Samaritan.      

September 7, 2007

September 5, 2007 – Shooting Photos

         Not much exciting happened today.  I’d say that it was average, 7 rides, 2 of which were locals.  My longest one went to Tierrasanta, which was worth $42.  No complaints.  It’s been slow for the last hour so I decided to take some time off and shoot some photos.  I do a little photography in my spare time, as you have probably noticed by my blog layout.  Night photography is my favorite.  Most of my photos have only minimal retouching – some people make their photos look amazing, surreal if your will, but they just don’t look real.  I like photos with a little grit.

These are the specs - 
          F - 20
          ISO - 200
          Shutter - 14 Seconds
          Focal Length - 28.0 mm
          File Size - 28.41 Megabytes

           These were shot with my 5D Mark II with a 24 – 105 L Series lens, and a F4 Aperture stop.  Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.  Plus a Manfrotto tripod of course, no self respecting photographer shoots photos without a tripod at night.

And for this one - 
          F - 22
          ISO - 200
          Shutter - 25 Seconds
          Focal Length - 47.0 mm
          File Size - 24.42 Megabytes

September 6, 2007

September 6, 2007 – Games With The Gas

            Today Salvo left me another gas receipt.  This happens pretty much every day now.  I fill the gas, every day, till the pump clicks.  I don’t know what else I can do.  One day Salvo left me a gas receipt for $12, that’s like 4 gallons of gas.  How is that possible?

            Salvo insists that I fill up on the same pump that he fills up at every day.  For me to do that I have to go out of my way to his favorite gas station, which happens to be in a shitty part of town.   It doesn’t really matter to me if I spend an extra 7 cents on gas where I usually fill up.   Today I put in 5 gallons of gas after my shift, which came out to an extra 35 cents.   I sometimes hit the gas station right downtown after my last ride, which is actually a few cents cheaper than the gas station that Salvo insists on.

            All the daytime drivers swear by the station that Salvo goes to.   There’s one pump there that’s on a banked drive that apparently lets you put more gas in the car.  It’s true, the gas stations in Cortez do cost like 50 cents more per gallon, and believe me I don’t like to be gouged on the price of gas, especially driving for a living and all, but if I only need to put in a gallon or two of gas it just makes sense.  I’ll gladly pay a premium for convenience.  Sometimes the daytime drivers only drive like 20 miles in a day, which comes out to about a gallon and a half of gas in these cars, and then they drive 8 miles round trip to fill up in San Diego, not to mention the extra 20 minutes that they spend in doing so.

            So lets do the math.  A gallon of gas is roughly $3.00 in Cortez and $2.50 in San Diego.  Ok.  So now add each of those numbers by 1.5 (Number of gallons needed to fill the tank.)

            That’s $6.00 to fill up in Cortez, and $5.00 to fill up in San Diego.  But then there are the extra 8 miles that you have to account for by driving back to San Diego to fill up.  That’s about half a gallon – $1.25.  Add that to the $5.00 that you already spent, now it cost $6.25 to fill up in San Diego when you could have just stayed here in Cortez and saved that $.25 as well as 20 minutes of your time.  I’ve tried to convince several of the daytime drivers, on a number of occasions.  They’re just not having it.

            So yeah, there’s that.  However, after talking with at number of drivers it seems that I’m not alone in my frustrations with filling up the gas. After talking with a few of the night drivers it becomes clear that this happens all the time.  Seems childish.  Sometimes Salvo leaves me a gas receipt for $1.50.  $1.50?  Really?

            Oh, it gets better.  Sometimes Salvo doesn’t even bother filling up the gas, at least as much as he claims that he normally does, he just puts in what he claims he uses.   He has a gas formula, like many of the daytime drivers use.  Salvo claims that his taxi, which also happens to be my taxi, gets 14 mpg regardless.  I’ve tried to correct him on this as well – No dice…

Me: You know the taxi isn’t always going to get 14 mpg right, there are a number of other factors that contribute to gas mileage?
Salvo: No, I checked it, it gets 14 mpg.
Me: Right, well on the day that you checked it I’m sure that it did get 14 mpg, but that doesn’t mean that it always will get the same gas mileage.  There are variables.
Salvo:  No, it’s always 14 mpg.
Me: Trust me, it’s not.  Your gas mileage will be less if you have more stop and go city driving, if you have more passengers in your car to weigh it down, if you have less gas (hence less weight) in the tank, if you windows are down, if you’re A/C is on, if your tires are under inflated, if you leave the engine running, if you are sitting in traffic, and so on.
Salvo: I just put in what I use.
Me: Well, you obviously didn’t because I can tell just by looking by the gas gauge that you didn’t.  Just go to any gas station and pump the gas till it clicks please, just get it close, I don’t want to argue about this.
Salvo: If you go to pump no. 8 at the 25th and Imperial gas station it will fill up the gas.
Me:  We’ve been over this already, that’s out of my way in a crusty part of town and I won’t be going there to fill up on some special pump.  That’s that.
Salvo: (Shrugs)

More often that not now Salvo just does his own calculations and replaces only the gas that he considers to have used.  Look at the mileage!

            Sometimes I don’t see Salvo when his shift ends and I get some barely intelligible note scribbled on a napkin about something or another.  Here’s the one from today.

            “Why u no fil gas.  I’m fil gas and I’m drive 87 miles.  And you leve garbich in car.  Throw out your garbich, I no want to pik up.”

            This was admittedly my fault, with the “garbich,” which I have assume was meant to read “garbage.”  I forgot an empty bag of chips in the car that fell behind the seat.  Honest mistake.

September 4, 2007

September 4, 2007 – The Office

            So as my days progress here at Cortez Cab I am beginning to realize how peculiar of a company this in fact is.  Case in point, the office…

            Every time that I step into the office it goes something like this…

            There is a large, if not completely obese woman, often surrounded by other large women, sitting on an old beat up office chair with a small portable fan desperately trying to cooling her off.  As I continue into the office I see the accountant who is older than dirt, I don’t doubt that he has fond memories of life before electricity.  As I continue my journey through the mess of papers, post-it notes, and used car parts strewn about I see more large women as well as a number of cracked ceramic floor tiles – draw your own conclusions…  Everyone is unusually upbeat, and then come the metaphors about the lord.  The ubiquitous Christian music, the religious pamphlets, and smell of WD-40 linger ever so ominously.  As I make my way to the bathroom I see a set of detailed directions for changing a roll of paper towels.

            “To replace roll of towels: Place your right hand on the rolling pin (stick that goes through the center of the towel roll) and pull all the way out to the right.  Put the new towel roll between the brackets and push the pin back through the towel roll to the left. Thank you.”

            Is this not humorous for a number of reasons?  The fact that the office needs to aid it’s employees with detailed directions in tasks as simple as changing a paper towel roll I find funny, but perhaps what is even more comical is the fact that the note was obviously placed there because at some point in time someone must have been confused by the intricate inner workings of a paper towel roll holder composed of only two parts.  I also like the fact that the office had to refer to the rod that holds the paper towel roll as a “stick” in case the employees weren’t bright enough to figure out what a rolling pin was, as well as telling them which hand that they needed to use.  The only thing the note was lacking was a recommendation that employees have their eyes open when changing the roll… 

Perhaps the funniest thing about this is how the holder from the towel roll looks like it was nearly ripped from the wall – perhaps from an overly confused and frustrated employee?  The cliff notes must not have been posted yet…

            But it doesn’t end there, oh contraire.  As I look on the other bathroom wall, next to the rusted out sink that barely turns on and the moldy fixtures, is an apparent reference to a religious publication of some sorts.

            “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

            First off, is this not inappropriate in the workplace?  Second, what are you supposed to take away from this?  And third, why do I need to be reading this when I am taking a crap?

            As I wander out of the bathroom I see Bertha, who is the most obese of the office workers, hitting the scales at roughly 400 lbs.  I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a connection between Bertha and the broken floor tiles.   And Bertha is MEAN.  But there is one thing that seems to calm her…  Right now, Bertha is sitting in front of a computer listening to music about “the lord.”  Are you supposed to capitalize “lord?’  Well, I’m not going to consider it to be a proper noun.   The jury’s still out on that one.  Anyways, as I look at the playlist it seems that every song has the word “god,” “Jesus,” or “lord” in it.  She just sits there staring at an old CRT monitor from probably 10 years ago – one of the offices many antiques.  Of course, like everyone else in this nether realm that is commonly referred to as “the office,” Bertha loves “the lord.”  Probably not as much as she loves jelly donuts, pizza, or hot dogs though.

            If that weren’t strange enough, there’s the back office…  This is Catherine’s lair.  The back office is draped in carpeting and furniture circa 1972.  This place could have served as an alternate set for the Merv Griffin show if only the Merv Griffin Show had a musty smell and dozens of boxes and papers stacked many feet tall, covered in dust and strewn about in a dimly lit room.

September 1, 2007

September 1, 2007 – My First Ticket

So this really isn’t my 1st ticket, just my first one while driving a taxi.  I’m not happy.  The officer said that I rolled a stop sign, which I’m skeptical about.  It’s quite possible that I really did roll it, but honestly I wasn’t paying that much attention as whether or not I made a “complete” stop.  It must have been REALLY close.

            There isn’t really much going on here in Cortez.  Most of the police calls are regarding stolen bicycles, curfew violators, and drunk and disorderly issues. When they’re really bored they crack down on underage smoking and jaywalking.  Small town stuff.  So since the cops have lots of free time they apparently feel the need to write petty tickets to people who are just trying to put in an honest days work.  Sure you could say that they are doing their job, which they are, but there’s something called discretion…

            What really steamed me about the whole thing was that Ralph, another driver with the company, got a ticket from the same officer at the same place 10 minutes after me.  Some people believe in coincidences – I don’t.

P.S. - Just a few other things about the ticket.  First off there was absolutely no traffic, it was at 11:55 at night! Also, the  violation location listed was different from where the officer said the violation occurred.  

Here he is, here's that son of a bitch who wrote me the ticket.

August 29, 2007

August 29, 2007 – Big Mama

Bogna seems like nice enough of lady, although some of the more seasoned drivers have opinions of their own.  I’ve spoken with Bogna several times over the last several months and always have had nice conversations.  She immigrated from Poland a few years ago and has been driving a taxi since.  One of our Polish drivers, who suffice it to say is not particularly fond of her, calls her “Big Mama.”

            Word on the street is that Big Mama gets the better rides fed to her over her cell phone by the office.  Usually the best rides are long ones, and Big Mama gets more than her fair share it seems.   Today I got a ride at the shores that was a “personal” for Big Mama.  She was not able to take it because she was coming back from a fare to the airport and the man wanted to leave right away.  A “personal” is when a customer either calls you directly or calls the office and asks for you. 

            Well I got Big Mama’s personal today, and it was a good one.  He went all the way from The Palms condominium complex in Cortez to Solana Beach, an $88 dollar ride.  Funny thing was that he didn’t even know Big Mama.  Seems strange to me that he would request a person who he had never met.  I was actually the only contact the man had with the taxi company.  Earlier in the day I picked him up from the ferry landing where the ferry coming from San Diego drops you off and brought him to The Palms. 

            A few days ago I got a similar story from a driver named Rejinaldo.  A few months back Rejinaldo got what you might call a miracle cab fare to Los Angeles.  This is like a $400 ride.  I’ve never driven anyone to Los Angeles, actually very few drivers have.  There are drivers who have been here for 10 years and haven’t driven anyone to Los Angeles.  Point is it’s rare.

            So Rejinaldo is coming back and spots Big Mama in her taxi in Pasadena of all places with passengers!  Not one word about it was ever mentioned on the radio.  What are the chances of that?  How often does this happen that the office feeds her a great ride that no one ever hears about?  Sometimes she just disappears for hours on end.  It’s not right, I know that much.

            The drivers say that Big Mama knows the key to the dispatches hearts. PASTRIES! It seems like every few days she stops in and drops off some goodies for the office workers.  They are said to be particularly fond of her dumplings as well as a wide variety of confectionaries.  My guess it the office workers are fond of pretty much anything, as long as it’s not green, leafy, or grow in the ground.  They don’t seem to be too fond of exercise either.

August 22, 2007

August 22, 2007 – Pedicabs and the Bridge

            Downtown they have these things called “Pedicabs.”  They’re sort of like a rickshaw.  There is a guy, or girl, that is riding a bicycle in the front and there is a big booth in the back that seats 2 to 3 people.  They’re mostly seen downtown.  I haven’t seen one yet in Cortez.

            I picked up a girl in the cab a few days ago that told me an interesting story.  I don’t remember much else about the ride.  Anyways, she told me that she takes pedicabs every once in a while when there are absolutely no taxis around.  Taxi’s can be hard to find in the Gaslamp district, which is right downtown next to the convention center and the baseball field.  It’s super busy down there most weekends as it is, and if you are trying to get a cab on St. Patrick’s Day, or the 4th of July, or New Years Eve, it’s practically impossible.  You can be waiting there for hours.  I’ve seen people still looking for cabs at 5 a.m. on holidays like this still looking for cabs.

            The girl told me that once she took a pedicab from the Gaslamp to Cortez, which I’m pretty sure you can’t do by the way because only vehicles are allowed on the bridge back to Cortez  You can go around the bay to get back but it is like 25 miles, way too long to take a pedicab.  Anyways this girl insisted that she had done so and when she arrived she was told the fare was some exorbitant sum of money.  Like $200 or something rediclious.  She said that since they didn’t have that much money her friend just fucked the pedicab driver.  I guess that’s one way to pay off the debt…

            Like I said though, the story didn’t really add up, so who knows what really happened.  You can’t even walk across the bridge to Cortez.  Every once in a while someone tries to walk across and the CHP picks them up about half way.  The Highway Patrol isn’t too happy about this, my guess is that the people are arrested.  There’s signs posted everywhere telling you that it is for motorized vehicles only, so you can’t claim that you didn’t know.  It would scare the shit out of me trying to walk across that bridge anyways with cars whizzing by at 65 mph or so.  The speed limit is 50 mph by the way but there is nowhere for cops to sit and clock your speed.  There isn’t a lot of room up there, just lanes for cars, and there’s only 5 of them. A moveable barrier is moved twice daily to accommodate traffic patterns.   In the morning there are 3 lanes going on to the “island” and  in the evening there are 3 lanes going off the “island” once the barrier is shifted.

            Whenever there is a problem on the bridge, as there frequently is, things get clogged up pretty quick.  Cars break down or run out of gas, people try walking across, accidents happen, and every once in a while people jump off.  It’s pretty rare, but people actually jump to their death sometimes.  Some live, although I would imagine it’s pretty rare, it’s like 200 feet up.  Someone told me sort of a morbid fact the other day – That the bridge into Cortez ranks 2nd among bridges in the number of yearly suicides, only surpassed by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  Don’t think that’s in the tourist brochures…

August 21, 2007

August 21, 2007 – The New Roommate

            So recently I moved out of Normal Heights and into Ocean Beach.  Technically it may be Pt. Loma but one of the nicer parts, not like Loma Portal where all of the bums hang out.  Anyways, I moved in with a mutual friend.  Dave is cool and all but living with him I noticed a few things.  First, he’s a compulsive liar.  He just makes shit up, for no good reason even.  And second, he’s a slob.  Dave rarely does the dishes, and if it appears that he did the dishes they are probably just hidden under the sink, which is absolutely filthy by the way.

            Like I said, I like Dave, but you’re 31 years old, clean up your act already.  None of this is too big of deal I guess though, I am only home when I am sleeping usually.  He has friends over often, and they are quite LOUD, but I’m a heavy sleeper so whatever.  I mean hey, it’s his place too.

            Funny thing, I have been seeing these ridiculous fiction novels laying around the pad.  One in particular, “Beastmaster Circus,” has been sitting around for weeks.  It was sitting on the coffee table before I even moved in.  Truthfully I’ve never seen him reading it, and with a title like that I can understand why…

            Also, my room is TINY!  I’ve seen prisoners with nicer living quarters than this, and often times they have cable tv!  REALLY!  There’s your tax dollars hard at work people.  My room has got to be less than 100 sq ft.  I had to make a special wooden stand for my bed that was elevated like 4 ft off the ground just to store my stuff.  But the view is nice.

August 19, 2007

August 19, 2007 – What Have You Done With Our Driver?

            Passenger: Take us to 487  Mar-----
            Passenger: Holy shit, look at this Kevin, it’s a white guy.
Me: Yup.  I also have all my teeth, wear deodorant, know how to get to where you are going, and my cab doesn’t smell like old socks.  Are you sure you want me, I’d be glad to call you another cab if you would like.
Passenger: (Laughing) No that’s quite alright.  We don’t see many Anglo’s.
Me: (Laughing) I’m sure you don’t.  That’s what you might call an anomaly.
Passenger: You got that right.
Passenger: Who’s that BITCH who answers the phone anyways?
Me: (Laughing) I see you had the pleasure of meeting Julie.

More on Julie later…

August 18, 2007

August 18, 2007 - The New Cab Partner

             For the last week or so now I have been paired up with a new cab partner.  Salvo is his name.  He seems nice.  He said that he would call me if he leaves early too so I can come in early and make a little extra money.  Well dressed and polite as well.

August 16, 2007

August 16, 2007 - The $300 Ride

            As I drop off my passengers downtown two drunks hop in, a man and a woman in their late 20’s to early 30’s.

             Me: Hey, sorry guys, I can’t pick up here.
             Man: It’s cool.
             Me: No, It’s not cool, I can’t pick up here, I don’t have the proper permit.
             Man: Come on man! I’ll give you $300.
            Me: I’m sure you will, but I really can’t pick up here.
            Man: Nah, it’s cool.
            Me: NO.  I REALLY CAN’T.
            Man: No, it’s fine, just take us.
            Me:  Yeah, whatever. Alright fine.  Were are you going?

            So after he informs me that we are going to Pacific Beach, which is a decent ride, especially at the end of the night when I might not get another fare, I decide to take them.  Before driving off I look around to make sure no one noticed.  It’s dead and there are no cabs around to pick these guys up anyways, and since they refuse to get out of my cab I might as well take them. 

            So I hear all this commotion in the back and low and behold they are screwing right in the back seat.  I really don’t care as long as it stays in the back seat and they don’t make a mess, although it is a little awkward...

So we are approaching our destination and they are still busy in back so they give me the go ahead to just drive around.  Then they want to go to Ocean Beach, by now the fare is $47, nothing to scoff at.

             Man: Thanks
             Me: Hey, no problem.
             Man: Hey can you wait for me?
Me: Where are you going afterwards? (If they are only going a short distance afterwards I usually don’t wait, in cases like that it usually isn’t worth my time.  Anyways, it’s like 2 in the morning by now and I’m exhausted.)
Man: To Rancho Santa Fe
Me: Sure, I’ll wait.

Then the man starts to walk with the woman into her house.  Often if someone asks you to wait for them, especially at night, it is good to ask them to pay what is currently on the meter, and sometimes the waiting time in advance.  Sometimes the people don’t come back out because they decided that they didn’t want the cab anymore, or fell asleep.  Either way, that leaves me holding the bag, so to speak.

Me: Hey, you have to pay me.
Man: Ok. Here’s $20
Me: No, you have to pay what’s already on the meter, and leave me a deposit to wait.
Man: (Agitated) I have money.
Me: I’m sure you do, but it’s just procedure.
Man: Fine. (As he hands me a hundred dollar bill) Don’t fuck me.
Me: Hey, if you’re going to Rancho Santa Fe, I’d be more than happy to wait for you, but sometimes people go inside and don’t come back out.  Requesting a deposit is something that I do for everyone.  Nothing personal.  Waiting time is $20 per hour, so for $53 you have roughly 2 ½ hours, which is plenty of time.  If you don’t give me a call or come out before the meter hits $100 I’ll drive off and take your hundred with me for my time.  Here’s my number.
Man: Thanks, I’ll be about thirty minutes.
Me: Ok

Sure enough he came out about thirty minutes later and decided to go to Rancho Santa Fe.  The fare was $127.  He gives me two more one hundred dollar bills.

Me: You already gave me a hundred.
Man: I know.

            Son of a bitch actually gave me $300, that’s a $173 tip.  That almost never happens. When it’s busy or there are no cabs around, people will tell you almost anything to get a ride.  No mess in the back seat either, everything went off without a hitch.

August 11, 2007

August 11, 2007 – Games on the Radio

            Often times when I come to work there are drivers improperly using the radio.  It can be comical, frustrating, or both. 
            I usually come to work about 3.  I have noticed that the drivers who work in the morning are a little more, well cutthroat, for lack of a better term.  I have begun to notice a pattern.  There are a few drivers in particular that are not well liked, some are outright despised.

            One of the drivers Jorge, has been attempting to call in for call in for the last 3 minutes or so.  Every time he tries to get through on the radio someone cuts off his transmission. 

            Jorge: Cab 132
            Dispatch: Who’s calling?
            Jorge: Cab 1-------
            Dispatch: Who?
            Jorge: Cab 13------
            Jorge: Cab 1--------
            Jorge: Cab 13------
            Dispatch: Who’s calling!
            Jorge: Cab 1------
            Jorge: Cab ------2
            Jorge: Cab ------32
            Dispatch: I can’t make out your number?
            Jorge: You guys have fun?
            Jorge: Cab 1-----2
            Jorge: Cab ------2
            (Unknown 1): “Farting noises”
            (Unknown 2): “Burping noises and laughing”
            Jorge: Cab -----3-----
            Dispatch: Stop it! Let the driver talk!

You get the point.  This goes on for several more minutes.  Jorge doesn’t have a cell phone so his only way to contact the office is to get through on the radio, which obviously isn’t working, or to find a pay phone.  This is a frequent occurrence with Jorge.  Not many drivers like Jorge, and from what I understand for good reason.  I was talking with one such driver just yesterday.  Jefferson was his name.

Jefferson is probably one of the best drivers that we have here at the company.  Intelligent, articulate, honest, polite – lets just say that he doesn’t fit the mold…

Anyways, here’s the deal.  When a customer calls the dispatcher looks on a board with a series of pegs with corresponding cab numbers.  The pegs are placed in the order that the drivers had dropped off their passengers and once again became available for calls.  The purpose of the pegs is so that the dispatcher can easily look at the board and see what driver cleared with their passenger first and is first up for calls from the dispatcher.  Jefferson dropped off his passenger 30 minutes ago and he is now first in line.  Jorge dropped off 5 minutes ago so he is sixth in line for calls.

Dispatch: Cab 407 (Jefferson)
Cab 407: Go ahead.
Dispatch: Go to 1459 Main Street.
Cab 407: 10-4
Several minutes pass…
Cab 407: Cab 407 (Your first transmission always starts with your cab no.)
Dispatch: Cab 407 go ahead.
Cab 407: There’s no one here.
Dispatch: Are you sure, they just called?
Cab 407: Yeah, the neighbor said a van taxi came by and picked them up.
Dispatch: I don’t know what they are talking about, none of our vans called in a ride from there.  Were they sure.
Cab 407: I’m not sure, I’ll wait here for a minute, can you leave me 1st for calls.
Dispatch: (Sighs) 10-4

Meanwhile, Jorge has already picked up Jefferson’s passenger and failed to mention it to the dispatcher.  Normally Jorge would have been able to get away with this.  That is if he would have taken a second to turn his radio down.  As Jefferson relayed to the office that he was at the address with no sign of the person, the passenger overheard the conversation and realized that the cab that he was riding in wasn’t the one that had been sent for him.  After the passenger was dropped off he called the office to let them know that he had indeed gotten picked up, by Jorge.

Dispatch: Cab 197. (Jorge)
Cab 197: Go ahead.
Dispatch: Land line (Make a phone call) the office.

            Of course it wouldn’t be that easy for Jorge, first he had to find a pay phone…

August 9, 2007

August 9, 2007 – Items Given to me by Passengers

            Today a jolly old bloke from England gave me a gift, and a nice tip to boot!  He was off to the airport when he realized that he had been given a bottle of vodka that he never got around to drinking.
            Passenger: Do you want this to bring home?
            Me: Really, are you sure?
            Passenger: Yeah, I can’t bring it on the plane anyways.  Here, take it.
            Me: Thanks, I appreciate it.  It won’t go to waste.
            Passenger: I’m sure it won’t.

            Bestowed upon me was a sealed bottle of vodka.  Absolute brand vodka.  Pretty good stuff.  Not top of the line, but nothing to scoff at either. Especially for free.   

             This was given to me as well, this was all that was left out of my six pack, of beer that is, the other one disappeared long ago...

August 8, 2007

August 8, 2007 - Car Washes

By now you if you have been reading my blog you know what my stance is on car washes.  I think it’s reasonable to have the car washed periodically, but it doesn’t need it every week.  Although maybe my perspective is a little skewed, I probably only wash my car once every 15 months or so.  Catherine’s been on my ass about it though so I guess that I’ll do it to appease her.   I’m sure it’ll really make all those different shades of yellow my taxi has shimmer.

            Doesn’t that look beautiful.  Would it have taken too long to tape off the edges of the license plate so that no yellow paint would get on it?

August 4, 2007

August 4, 2007 - The Cadillac

            As I walked to my taxi two men who were in quite a rush approached and asked if I was a driver and whether or not I was in service.
            Kyle: How much to San Onofre State Beach?
            Me: Boy, I don’t know but it’s gotta be a lot.
            Me: Probably around $150.
            Kyle: How about $100?
            Me: Alright.

            Normally I wouldn’t have bothered with this low ball offer, but it has been slow lately and truthfully if I made $100 day working in Cortez I’d be surprised.  So I drove Kyle and his passenger up to San Onofre.  I don’t know how much it would have been, I forgot to start the meter. 

            So apparently what happened was Kyle and his helper Alex were driving down from San Francisco in a moving truck that was towing an old Cadillac.  They made it down the majority of the way and then stopped over to get some gas in Irvine.  While they were getting some gas they noticed that the hitch that was holding on the Cadillac had a large crack in it.  If they kept driving there was a chance it could break and the Cadillac could be unleashed into a sea of moving traffic, careening aimlessly, like a drunken hobo.  There was a problem however…

            Kyle had been driving the whole way and had not anticipated that Alex may have to take the wheel at some point.  Problem was that Alex didn’t have a license.  Kyle decided that the best option was to unhook the Cadillac and have Alex drive it a few miles down the road to where they could park it for a while until they figured a way of getting it to Cortez.  It was just too risky to have an unlicensed person drive the car another 55 miles to Cortez.  Kyle’s plan was to find a taxi when he got to Cortez that would take him back up to San Onofre to drive the Cadillac back.  The moving truck would stay in Cortez for the mean time.

            As we drove up to San Onofre we all talked and got to know each other a little better.  Alex and Kyle had a small operation out of the bay area where they worked as movers.  They said that they would do long trips often but worked exclusively in California.  Kyle had started the business a few years ago. 

            Right before you get to San Onofre State Beach there is a large checkpoint operated by the border patrol.  When they asked us where we were coming from they got different answers from Kyle and Alex.  Actually, both of their answers were correct.  Kyle said that they were coming from Cortez, and Alex said that they were coming from San Francisco.  Mr. Border Patrol became suspicious.  They ordered us out gave us a round of questioning and proceeded with their dog and pony show.  Nothing too fancy, just a few agents looking around with flashlights, mirrors, and shit eating grins.  Shortly thereafter we were back on our way.  We pulled up to the Cadillac but there was a problem.  One crucial element was overlooked.  They didn’t have the ignition key.

            Turns out that the lady who hired them to do the move only gave them the door key, not the ignition key as well.  There was no way of getting the car started.  They were baffled and obviously distraught.  They weren’t happy, they had spent a hundred dollars, without a tip by the way which would have been much appreciated since I knocked $50 off of their ride. 

            Kyle: Well, I guess you can just bring us back to Cortez.
            Me: What are you going to do about the car? 
Kyle: I don’t know.  All I know is that Betty is getting off the plane in 30 minutes and we said that we would pick her up. 
Me: Well, you could get the key from her for the ignition at least then.
Kyle: I guess so.
Me: Sorry guys.  The ride back is on me but the trip to the airport is an unscheduled stop so you have to pay for that.  It’ll be about $25.
Kyle: That’s fine.

             So we pick up Betty and bring her back to Cortez and drop her at her house.  Kyle told her that they would do the unpacking in the morning as it was dark now.  She was fine with that.  Kyle did however get the key for the car. 

Kyle: Thanks for the ride, it was good talking to you.
Me: What are you going to do about the car, you probably can’t leave it there overnight, and they might tow it.
Kyle: Yeah, but there’s nothing that I can do.
Me: I could drive it back for you.  Now that you have the key, if you want to give me a ride up there in your moving truck I’ll drive it back for you. 
Kyle: I can’t afford to pay you another $100 to do that for me.
Me: I agree, but I think $50 would be fair.
Kyle: Ok

                          So we did just that.  Around 9:30 we got back into Cortez with the Cadillac.  They were relieved, and I was happy because I had a better day than I was expecting, and it was kind of exciting.  Kyle got a good deal as well, any other driver may have refused to budge and they would have had to spend probably $300 on cab fares alone.  We shook hands and went on our separate ways, and I went home.

August 1, 2007

August 1, 2007 - The Biter

            Just got a call at Donny’s Bar and Grill.  Donny’s is known for churning our drunks going to the Navy base so I’m not particularly excited.  It’s known locally as a seal bar, as in Navy seals.  Sometimes the sailors tell interesting stories, but usually it is just a short ride without much time for conversation.  Meaningful conversation that is...
             When I arrive three attractive girls get in who are going to Little Italy, an Italian themed area in San Diego by the airport. It’s mostly Italian restaurants, hence the name.  Anyways, after a little small talk one of the girls in the back shows a particular interest in me.  She starts massaging my neck.  I’m not a big massage guy, but I don’t object.  I find that most people give too hard of a massage, to the point of where it’s not pleasurable.  This went on for a few minutes, then she moved on to other areas a little further down the way.  Her friends were visibly annoyed, but hey, that’s not my problem.  Maybe not as annoyed as worried due to the fact that I’m swerving in and out of my lane.  It’s their friend, there’s no reason that they can’t step up and say anything.  So now she unzips my trousers and starts massaging my nether regions.  You ever try to drive a car while you’re getting a handjob.  Well, let me tell you it’s TOUGH!  (Technically I’m not sure that this constituted a handjob, but it was pretty fucking close, for all intents and purposes.)
               After another minute or so she lifted up my shirt and began breathing heavily and kissing my stomach.  I was occupied, the steering wheel in one hand and her supple breast in the other.  This went on for a few minutes until out of nowhere she bit down right on my stomach.  It would have been sensual if it weren’t so fucking hard.  AAAGGGGGHHHH I gasped, as I jerked the wheel and careened into the other lane.

             We got to her friends place and they promptly hopped out.  My guess is that they were happy that they made it home in one piece.  I was kind of in a pickle, I couldn’t really do much right here, being on duty in a company vehicle and all.  If anyone were to see what was going on and inform Catherine that a cab driver had been spotted in his cab doing who knows what on a public street the shit would have really hit the fan.  I hopped in the back and we both did a little “exploring” of each other.   I offered stopping by my place, which was only ten minutes away, but she didn’t bite, again at least, although this time it would have been welcomed…