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May 29, 2008

May 29, 2008 – The USS Richard Millhouse Nixon

            Recently we have had some visitors come to Cortez, in the form of an aircraft carrier – The USS Richard Millhouse Nixon.  Well, as you may have suspected, it’s not really called the “Nixon,” but that’s what were going to call it. Capiche?  I digress.

There she is "The Nixon."

            The Nixon is here due to a set of unforeseen circumstances.  My understanding is that the Nixon was sailing somewhere around South America when a massive fire erupted in one of the ships compartments.  The ship survived, but there was extensive damage.  For some reason or another the Nixon was docked here in San Diego to be repaired.  I understand that it will take months, and millions upon millions of dollars.  What caused this fire might you ask?  Oh, well it was a sailor(s) that were smoking in a room near flammable substances.

            I don’t mind though, this surely will bring good business for weeks to come.  Rides to the strip clubs if nothing else.  Those sailors love their strip clubs.  I’ve actually compiled a list of the most commonly requested destinations by sailors over the last 2 months – in order of occurrence.

1.     Horton Plaza Mall (San Diego)
2.     The Little Club Bar (Cortez)
3.     The Yardhouse (Downtown San Diego)
4.     Déjà vu (Pt. Loma Branch)
5.     Hooters (Downtown San Diego)
6.     Dave and Busters (Mission Valley)
7.     The Gaslamp (Downtown San Diego)
8.     AT&T Store (Downtown San Diego)
9.     Starbucks (Cortez)
10. Mc P’s Bar (Cortez)

I admire their simplistic lifestyle.  

May 17, 2008

May 17, 2008 – Malik

            One of the drivers has been causing me a bit of a headache lately.  Malik is his name.

            Julie: Cab 44
            Me: Cab 44
            Julie: Go to the Lowes to pick up
            Me: 10-4
            Malik: I’m closer, can I have that call.
            Me: Thank you Malik, but I’m already on my way.
            Malik: I’m closer, I should get it.
            Julie: Fine take it Malik!

            This is a bunch of shit.  I was given that call and he isn’t much closer (at least where he says he is).  The office likes to give calls to whoever is closest usually.  This isn’t really fair in my opinion – especially when you get dishonest drivers who claim that they are somewhere that they are not.  Malik is no exception.  As usual, Catherine’s rationale for this is rooted in irrationality. 

Ever waited for a cab?  Sure you have, it takes a long time right?  Possibly 30 minutes?  This is unheard of in Cortez.   You NEVER have to wait more than 15 minutes, and even that is rare.  Usually it is anywhere from 2 – 6 minutes.  So if Malik was where he said that he was he would have probably gotten there about 1 – 2 minutes earlier than I would have.  I can’t imagine that many people would be up in arms about this.  I don’t think anyone’s going to be that angry about their cab taking 8 minutes instead of 6…  But drivers that keep a pee jug and chicken bones under their car seat, smell like shit, and work 90 hour work weeks, oh that’s fine though…

Problem was that he wasn’t there, he was directly behind me in traffic.  Malik was caught in another lie.

            Me: Hey Malik, what’s your 20 (your location)?
            Malik: I’m almost there.
            Me: Really, you’re right behind me.
            Malik: I don’t know you are talking about.
            Me: I think you do.  Looks like you were lying.

            Later I saw Malik and the cab stand and he came out and smiled and asked why I was giving him a hard time.  I explained that I was giving him a hard time because what he was doing pretty much amounted to stealing from me.  He didn’t feel the need to apologize, or even admit any wrongdoing.  This really steamed me.  Being questioned why I pointed out that he was breaking the rules?  How dare I!

            Not really sure why I bother though, there seems to be no punishment here for this sort of thing.  Catherine just pretends that things like this don’t happen.  If that weren’t bad enough she’s bold enough to suggest that I misinterpreted the situation.  To say that there is nothing that she could or would do about it would be one thing.  But to try to convince me the perhaps I am imagining these things, or worse, that I am the real problem by pointing out Malik's misbehavior over the radio – well that’s just insulting.  Perhaps what is most frustrating is that problems like this could easily be fixed, if nothing else sitting the driver down and having a word with them.  Just letting them know that this won’t be tolerated would probably be sufficient in most cases.  A system of write-ups perhaps, you know like how normally functioning companies operate?  The key word here is “functioning.”

May 15, 2008

May 15, 2008 – T-Boned

             Saw this old lady get t-boned at an intersection earlier.  I’m not making light of the situation – she was fine.  Probably a little stirred up though.  It must have been a little hard to see through those giant coke bottle glasses.  I’m glad that she wasn’t hurt, or anyone else for that matter.  Both cars were pretty smashed up though.

            The lady, Nancy as we’ll call her, just shot right across traffic.  No hesitation whatsoever.  I was just a little behind the car that hit her.  He wasn’t going too fast, probably 20 mph or so.  He hit the tail end of her car and spun it 90 degrees clockwise.  Nancy didn’t even look, it didn’t even seem like she knew that there were other cars on the road.  If I had been another 30 feet further up the road I would have hit her, there would have been no time to stop.

            Nancy looked like she was in her 80’s.  Sure old people have to the right to drive on the road too, but when you don’t realize that you’re not the only one out there…  Then there’s a problem.   

I’m surprised that she made it across the first lane of traffic.  The road that she was crossing was a one way in each direction with a median for a staging area to wait for traffic on the other side to clear.  Usually, since the road is quite busy, you cross the first one way and sit idling in the median until you are clear to cross the other one way.  It’s not too confusing.  I find this a little unnerving that there are people this oblivious out there on the road.   

Nancy never even turned her head to look.  She was on a mission.

May 14, 2008

May 14, 2008 - The San Diego Zoo

             Just a few pictures I took at the San Diego Zoo today.  Although if I wanted to see animals I could have just went into work.  The ones at the Zoo seem much more civil though.

May 13, 2008

May 13, 2008 – The Smell Test

            So the other day one a customer complained that one of our taxi’s was not up to par.   Seems that the particular cab that they rode in was stinky.  Not a stretch by any means…  What was the office’s solution might you ask?  Well it was to have all the cabs come in one by one for a “Smell Test.”  Although surely it wasn’t coined as such by the office…

            Yep.  The drivers were called into the office one by one by Julia, yet another of the offices many grossly obese office workers, so that they could be sniffed individually in an attempt to pinpoint the culprit.  What a solution!  How scientific!

            Not only were a large number of drivers alienated, but the problem wasn’t solved.  As usual, the office failed to notice the obvious…

1.     It was probably the driver that smelled.
2.     The taxi may have only smelled that day due to something that had been spilled, someone had thrown up, or whatever.
3.     Realizing that their cabs were going to be inspected the drivers cleaned/deodorized their cabs prior to coming in.

After passing the “smell test” the drivers were free to return to work.  Later one of the disenfranchised drivers gave me their thoughts on the current state of affairs at Cortez Cab with what I found to be a humorous acronym for what they felt that the term cab really stood for – Complacency, Animosity, Belittlement.

May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008 – The $100 tip

            Got a call from Catherine earlier today...

            Me: Hello
            Catherine: Hi
            Long pause…
            Catherine: It’s Catherine
            Me: I know.

            Another long pause… 

I’m not sure why every call from Catherine needs to start out this way.  It’s as if she is just waiting for me to volunteer something or another.   It’s a little strange, especially after the first few calls.  I don’t take the bait.

            Catherine: Were you working at 3:30 a.m. last night?
            Me: Yes
            Catherine: Do you remember that?
            Me: I remember working at that time.
            Cathereine: Did you pick up someone at 321 Main Street and go to 123 Second Street?
            Me: Yeah
            Catherine: They said that they accidentally gave you $100
            Me: No they didn’t, I think I’d remember that.
            Catherine: Are you sure, they’re adamant that they gave you $100.
            Me: I think I’d remember that.
            Catherine: Could you check your trip sheet to see how much they paid you?

            I don’t see the point of that.  I’ve already made it clear that I hadn’t received a $100 bill, and further explained that if I did that it was something that I would have remembered.

            Me: Truthfully I’m pretty lax about keeping those.
            Catherine: There’s a problem right there.  It is imperative that we keep trip sheets.
            Me:  Ok, I’ll do that from now on.


Perhaps I should have responded with something along these lines –
“Affirmative.  The requisite level of comprehension has been established.  How shall I proceed?”

May 11, 2008

May 11, 2008 – Party Cab

             Today a cab patron of mine told me that there is a driver downtown who calls his taxi “Party Cab.”  I guess that there’s a spinning disco ball dangling from the ceiling and loud music.  Oh, and drinking too, and not just by the passengers.  The driver drinks too.  He’s in there slamming beers with the passengers.  What the fuck?  I can only imagine how many laws are being broken by that guy…

            The passengers think that this is cool too, at least the ones that I talked to.  I guess the guy that drives “Party Cab” is some hippy that’s been driving a cab for years downtown.  From what they described he sounds like a real space cadet.  The creepy old guy that goes to the high school parties.  To each their own, but I think the first thing that I would look for in a taxi driver was that they were sober?  Otherwise what’s the point of me taking a taxi?  I could save a lot of time and money by driving around drunk myself.  

May 10, 2008

May 10, 2008 – Jorge’s Junk Mail

             I heard another funny story about Lenny today.   Turns out that Lenny receives mail for Jorge.  Jorge lives in Tijuana (big surprise), when he isn’t living in the taxi that is.  I’m guessing to work for the taxi company he has to have a United States address listed as his place of residence.  You might think that speaking English and showering were requirements as well.  Not so.

            Lenny collects Jorge’s mail for him – and sells it to him, for a dollar per item.   What a nice guy that Lenny is.  Real sweetheart.  Even the junk mail, although I doubt that Jorge get’s too many credit card offers.  I bet the supermarket circulars don’t waste their time with him.  He must not know about P.O. boxes.  Jorge doesn’t strike me as someone who get’s many important letters.  I doubt many people probably know he’s even alive.   I didn’t know myself till I saw him moving in the taxi. 

What can you get for a dollar nowadays anyways?  I'm fully aware of the rudimentary nature of my drawings and I don't care, I think they're cute.  Catherine, probably not so much...

May 9, 2008

May 9, 2008 – CHiPs

           And the award for worst penmanship goes to…

            Well, it goes to this son of a bitch.  I wish I could read his name.  I’d like to write him a nice letter.  Actually he was very nice, I’m just bitter about yet another ticket. 

            I gave him a good laugh.  I was singing in my car as I was speeding down the freeway, a deserted freeway I might add, in the middle of the desert.  Just outside of El Centro, the shitty little hick town that it is.

            Officer: Do you know why I stopped you?
            Me: Yeah
            Officer: Do you know how fast you were going?
            Me: More or less.
            Officer: Ok
            Me: So what are my options with this?
            Officer: Well you can pay your ticket, or you can call the number on the back            
of the ticket here and they will arrang---
Me: Sorry, I was hoping to get traffic school.  I was wondering what my options were for that.
Officer: You won’t be eligible for traffic school at the speed I clocked you, but I didn’t sign the ticket yet.  I could put that you were going 10 mph slower.  That would make you eligible…
Me: That would be much appreciated.
Officer: You saw me back there didn’t you?
Me: No, I didn’t see until you pulled me over.
Officer: Yeah, I thought you saw me when I clocked you.  It looked like you shouted “Fuck..”
Me: No, I was actually singing.
Officer: Yeah, I was behind you for a full mile or so.

By the way, “appreciated” is an underused word nowadays.  Give it a try, and say it with sincerity.  People love to be appreciated.  Perhaps I realize this now more so since I work in such an underappreciated profession.  Taxi drivers keep people from killing other people on the road, from getting DUI’s, providing, at times, the only way for people to get from one point to another. 

Catherine has this policy where drivers have to tell her about any encounter that they have with law enforcement regarding moving violations, any violation involving a vehicle for that matter, regardless if the driver is engaged in company business or not.  Why would I do that?  What benefit would that serve?  I’ve talked to drivers who say that Catherine just tries to use this as leverage when they get into trouble - for whatever.  She told me that it is so that she knows all of the facts and that she can be more effective in defending us when the City of Cortez wants to revoke our taxi permit.

That’s absolute nonsense.  Catherine has no pull with the courts.  She can’t even corral a few rouge employees.  All that the city cares about is that you don’t have too many points on your license.  I don’t know the specifics, but I think it may even have to be suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles before you aren’t able to drive a taxi.  Bottom line is that I got this in my personal car and I’m not going to tell her.  I’m sure that I’m not the only one.