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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…