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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.