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June 30, 2008

June 30, 2008 – Julie Gets Worked Up

Today Julie got a little worked up on the radio.  Nothing like her usual tantrums though.  Today she had the foresight to turn off the radio and cut her losses.

June 29, 2008

June 29, 2008 – Camping Urban Style

           I’ve noticed a good number of people out camping.  They have tents and blankets laid out everywhere.  A boisterous croud, shouting aloud, like a jovial lot.  Usually after a few libations…  They seem to congregate with other campers, lining the streets.  Their unity seems to be contagious.  Laying down on their blankets.  Getting ready for a picnic perhaps.   It sure would be nice to have the luxury, and freedom, to camp out every day…  The freedom to not have to shower, to shave, to work.  The freedom to go to the bathroom where ever you please.  Even on the sidewalk.

June 28, 2008

June 28, 2008 – The Porn Star

            Today I picked up an interesting fare.  He was a sailor who had done a few porn films in the past.  He told me that he had done two of them.  James was his name.  James told me that being a porn star was not as glamorous as some might think.  He told me that there was audition process, where you had to prove your worth.  How that was determined, who knows…  After you made the cut you had to start from the bottom, doing the shit that none of the seasoned porn actors had to do.  Fat chicks, grannies, chicks covered in spaghetti…  You get the picture.  Yeah, I made that last one up – although with the internet there is surely a market for that kind of stuff.  There’s some weird shit out there.

            James told me that the money wasn’t that good, that the girls make all of the money.  That he would be there for hours, and make around $100.  Makes sense, surely there’s no shortage of men out who aspire to be porn stars.  Hell, I’d imagine many of them would do it for free.

            James ended up going to the mall, where most of the sailors go when they come into town.  Usually to stock up on supplies.  He told me that he enjoyed the conversation and wished to ride with me again.   He told me that most of the drivers couldn’t or wouldn’t go on base.  That many of them were dipshits, smelled bad, or didn’t speak English.  Oh how I can relate…

June 25, 2008

June 25, 2008 – Another Traffic School

            They called it “Laugh for half” traffic school. Only 39.95, what a steal!  I would have called it “Feeling down and out, go ahead, frown and pout.”  I think that everyone should to go to traffic school at least once.  It’s a right of passage, a lesson in humility.  I don’t recommend that people attend half a dozen times like me.  I feel like I should be the instructor.  Whatever though, I deserved it.  Live and learn right.  After all, what could be better than being in La Mesa in a business park on a Saturday afternoon for 8 hours...

June 23, 2008

June 23, 2008 – Sliced Finger

           Today when I went to retrieve my radio from its mount on the dash I sliced my finger.  There is a circular, steel, button like looking object on the back of my mic (the part of the radio that you speak into) that fits into a steel receiver on the dash.  Over the years after repeated friction between the two parts the receiver had developed a razor sharp edge.  In my haste I misaligned the two parts and guided my finger across the receivers edge.  It was a pretty good slice actually.   This was followed by an array of expletives that was as colorful as the people that work here.

June 21, 2008

June 21, 2008 – Vincent

            Today Vincent got a little agitated with the games on the radio.  This happens fairly frequent these days.  Music, fart noises, mocking other drivers, etc…  Me, I don’t worry about it, I really don’t care.  But man, some people really get worked up about it, especially Vincent.

            Vincent used to be a dispatcher.  It just became too much for him to handle – all of the games on the radio that is.  The drivers would just taunt him relentlessly.  I could just imaging him sitting in that tiny little office, just smoldering away.  Infuriated.

            When the drivers would start up with the noises he would say things like “That’s what your motha said” or “I’m gonna come down there and punch you in the mouth.”  This would just add fuel to the fire.  If Vincent thought that the noise was bad before…  After a while Vincent was having nightly outbursts, cursing away at the drivers.  Most of them just got a good laugh out of it. 

            Now that Vincent has been driving, instead of dispatching, things aren’t much better.  About a week ago he had a breakdown.  It wasn’t the first time…  After being thoroughly provoked by his fellow cabbies, Vincent scoured the city with the intention of speaking to every single driver in an attempt to weed out the culprit.  He just came to the cab stands, one by one, shouting things like “I don’t give a fuck about the job, the police, jail.  If I find out who’s doing this I’m going to put them in the hospital!”  “I don’t give a fuck, I’ll put them in the ground!”  To say that he was mad would have been an understatement.

            The only advantage for Vincent is that when he begins to lose his temper while driving he can just go home.  When he was dispatching that wasn’t really an option.  Today, despite his frustration, Vinny stayed.  He just drove his passengers to their destination while calling the instigators “cowards.”  Catherine wasn’t amused.  A “landline” was requested…

June 20, 2008

June 20, 2008 - If These Walls Could Talk

            So today I took a day off of work to help a friend pick a couch in Palm Springs form his parents house.  I found this house along the way that had been completely ransacked.  I took some photos of what I found.  I don't remember where exactly where I found this but it was somewhere near the edge of Riverside County off of route 60.

          I left the scene with an empty feeling.  Someone had thoughtlessly destroyed someone else's property.  It was clear where their anger was directed.  As they say, the "Writing's on the Wall."

There were these creepy childrens toys scattered about.

This was a bees nest had been formed in a hole created in the drywall.

Some creepy shit.  I desatured the photo, but kept the red spray paint around the skull.

"Broken Homes"

June 20, 2007 - The New Job

            Ever since I moved to Southern California I have been in job hunt mode, until now.  I found an advertisement for a cab company looking for airport shuttle drivers.  From what I gather the job consists of picking up customers at the airport for a flat rate and bringing them to their destination.  The drivers are paid an hourly rate that is often supplemented with tips from the passengers.  After a talk with the company owner, Catherine, I was persuaded to work as a taxi driver, rather than a shuttle/livery driver.  For now Catherine is going to pair me up with a seasoned cab driver so show me the ropes.

June 18, 2008 – El Mejor Strikes Again

            Julie: Franco, what’s your 20?
            Julie: Franco!
            Franco: In the lobby.
            Julie: I sent you to the Navy base!  Where are you?
            Franco:  In the lobby.
            Julie: You’re supposed to go to the main gate, where are you!
            Franco: Right here, in the lobby.

            It didn’t take much to piece this one together.  If nothing else because there’s no “lobby” at the main gate.  Just a parking lot.  Franco had been spotted shortly before picking up a ride that another driver had been sent for.  If only his English skills were better he might have been able to offer up a better explanation.  Stating that he was “In the lobby” just wasn’t cutting it.  Shortly thereafter Catherine got on the radio to ask about Franco’s current whereabouts.

            Catherine: Franco
            Franco: Yes
            Catherine: Franco, what’s your 20?
            Franco: Right here in the lobby.
            Catherine: (With a frustrated sigh) What’s your 20 Franco, there’s no lobby at the main gate. 
            Where are you?
            Franco: Uh, I’m here, in the lobby.

            It was at this point that the office gave up on the situation.  It was obvious that Franco hadn’t gone to where he had been sent to, and it was also obvious that he was nowhere near any lobby.  Things were tough for Franco the rest of the day…

June 19, 2008

June 19, 2008 – Eavesdropping

            I caught the office eavesdropping on me today.  I don’t know if “caught” is the right word, they made it quite apparent.

            One of our piece of shit cabs broke down on me AGAIN yesterday.  An almost weekly occurrence at this point.  This time it was a blown hose.  I was just driving and all of the sudden noticed my temperature gauge indicator was in the red – not a good sign. 

            Perhaps I could have been alerted if the check engine light had not been covered up with a business card.  Actually, I guess it wouldn’t have mattered, since it is always lit.  That was surely the thinking behind putting the business card there.  I think every car that I have driven so far had a check engine light the was permanently illuminated.  To be fair, I’m sure that some of the cars have check engine lights that aren’t illuminated though – but only because they were left on so long that the bulb burnt out.

            At any rate I thought it would be in my best interest to pull over right away.  There was steam shooting up from the hood, which is what actually alerted me to the problem initially.   Upon further inspection I saw that one of the hoses going to the radiator had blown and was spilling coolant into the street.  I called the office and arranged for a replacement cab for the remainder of the day.

            Today day I gave the office a call to check on the status of my car.

            Julie: Cortez Cab
            Me: Hey Julie, can I speak with Victoria?
            Julie: Hold on.
            Victoria: Hello, Victoria speaking.
            Me: Hey Victoria, it’s *****.  I was calling to see if there was any word on my cab.
            Victoria: Hmmm, uh let me see, uh, which cab do you drive?
            Me: Cab 44
            Victoria: Yeah, it looks like you will be driving Cab 98 for the res--------
            Catherine: Victoria I got it, I’ll take it from here.
            Catherine: Hey *****.  Yeah, right now your cab is in the shop.  Were looking at it right now.  Were checking the engine right now to see if we can save it.
            Me: Ok, I’ll check back later on it.  Thanks.
            Catherine: Teeennnn Fooouuuurrrr

            Why the guilt trip?  There was no way that I could have foreseen that hose bursting.  These things just happen.   Actually most times when something does break on an automobile it’s completely spontaneous.  I did exactly what I should have done by pulling over and letting the cab cool down.

            And for the eavesdropping.  I have no idea what the reason for that was.  And could it been overdramatized anymore?  I think not.

June 17, 2008

June 17, 2008 – Taxi Life’s Not All Sour Grapes

            More often than not I get good fares.  Polite, respectful, intelligent people.  Generally we get pretty good clientele.  Mostly affluent locals, tourists, and people in town on business.  They’re not all sailors.

            I have a regular customer that I pick up.  He’s in that navy, and is by no means a dipshit.  His name is “Bob,” and he’s a vice admiral in the Navy.  The upper echelon if you will.  I enjoy talking with him, talking about the structured lifestyle that the Navy brings.  Talking about his experiences over the years.  Interesting stuff.  Smart guy.  I often pry, to see what I can find out.  I get interesting little stories here and there.  Jim sees my angle, and politely deflects my inquiries.  The ones of a more sensitive nature at least.  I admire him. 

This is a picture of "Bob" that I found online.

            Not like your typical enlisted guys, always talking about how drunk they were, or how many times they “scored.”   Stories that are embellished more often than not.  Especially the latter.

            Typically these are narrated in some sort of elementary fashion.  Their rudimentary vocabulary, usually consisting of several of the more common basic expletives or “cuss words.”  Bitch, shit, cunt, asshole, fuck, and a range of slurs are often their favorites.

        Just on my last ride I had three federal judges in my car.  They worked on the civil side of things.  Being somewhat versed on the topic of law, but by no means an expert, I found their conversation quite engaging.  Intriguing.  They dealt primarily with labor law and how discrimination becomes easily, and often subtly, intermingled within.

June 16, 2008

June 16, 2008 – Gomez Sr.

             Now that you know a little about Gomez Jr., it’s only fair that you know a little about Gomez Sr. as well.  The father and son duo.  They both live down in Tijuana.  I believe Gomez Sr. raises chickens.  He also does work on the internet, pay per click marketing/advertising or something like that.  He only comes in to Cortez to drive cab when he needs to supplement his income.  I forget, he may share the cab with his son.

            I like Gomez Sr.  He strikes me as a pretty honest guy, which unfortunately seems to be a rarity here at Cortez Cab, where dishonesty runs rampant.  I like Gomez Jr. as well for that matter.  Gomez Jr. is a bit of an oddball, constantly espousing his beliefs about how the government is plotting against us, watching us, controlling us.  Just the other day he was pushing some documentary made by a couple of kids.  “Loose Change” it was called.  Some far left extremist psychobabble, reminiscent of Michael Moore.
            Gomez Sr. told me a funny story today.  He told me that Catherine had some issues with his dress.  Who knows what he was wearing, probably jeans and a t-shirt or something.  That’s what most drivers wear.  Well Gomez wanted to make a statement, he wanted to look sharp.  Gomez picked out a nice dress shirt, buttoned it up, and put on a tie.  And what did he pair that up with might you ask?  Well, he thought that would look nice tucked into a pair of sweatpants.  He said that Catherine just took a look at him, waited a second, and told him that he looked “absolutely ridiculous.” For once she was right.

            This was better than the story that Gomez Sr. told me shortly after I first met him.  We were talking about the job and our backgrounds, probably about business that day.  I don’t remember the specifics, but I do remember the vivid details that Gomez Sr. offered about his taste in women.  Not sure how the topic was sparked, although surely by Gomez Sr., but he began to tell me about how he liked “girls with big hairy bushes.”  Oh no, that wasn’t all.  He told me how he liked them wet, and how he loved to eat them, and just rub his face in them.  What was most astonishing was how cavalier he was about the whole thing.  How he just segued into the topic, from something completely unrelated.  I had no rebuttal…

            I don’t think that would be something that I would share with someone who I’d probably met briefly only once before.  Probably not at work.  Probably not at all.

           This is another one of Gomez Jr's videos.  Gomez Sr., his father, comes in at around the 5:00 mark.

June 14, 2008

June 14, 2008 – Gomez Jr.

            Turns out I’m not the only driver who has outbursts on the radio.  Today I heard a great one out of  Gomez.  Catherine has this obnoxious habit of trying to micromanage every move we make.  When it gets busy it’s even worse – today we were busy.

            So when we arrive back in Cortez, or drop off our passengers within the city limits and are available for fares once again, we tell the office that we are “On the bridge” (to Cortez) or  that we’re “clear” (if we dropped off within the city limits.)   Often when Catherine is dispatching she wants to know EXACTLY where we are.   In all fairness, this is done to provide speedy service to customers, and it works well in theory.

            When it is busy and a driver drops a passenger off making them available for a call once again, there are often several people who have already called the office to request a cab.  It usually makes sense to send the driver to the closest call.  There’s nothing wrong with efficiency.  But there’s a difference between being efficient and manic.  Gomez doesn’t like being micromanaged any more than I do…

            Gomez: Cab 17
            Catherine: Cab 17 go ahead
            Gomez: I’m clear.
            Catherine: Ok your clear wheeerrreee?
            Gomez: By the beach.
            Catherine: Which section of the beach are you clear at?
            Gomez:  (Annoyed) I’m clear at the beach.
            Catherine: I need to know where on the beach you cleared.
            Gomez:  …BY THE TRASHCAN.
            Catherine:  ….Ok, go to 118 Tangerine St.
            Catherine: Teeeeennn  Fooouuurrrrr

            Good for Gomez.  I got a good chuckle out of this whole exchange.  What a ridiculous question.   The beach is half a mile long, so if he was at the other far side of the beach it may take up to a minute longer to get to the next call – not a big deal. 

            Catherine isn’t too fond of Gomez.   He doesn’t play ball in her eyes.  A non-conformist.  Once Catherine told another employee that she would rather get punched in the stomach than talk to Gomez.  That doesn’t strike me as a compliment…

            This is video that Gomez posted on the internet.  Gomez currently lives in  Tijuana (Mexico) because he claims that “In Mexico you’re still free.”  He also claims that there is human shit in the streets.  One of the drivers suggested that maybe it was dog shit.  Gomez replied (with emphasis) “Oh no, these were big”.

            Apparently in Mexico your neighbors have “angry goats” that terrorize your pets and damage your house. If that were not enough, people will come on to your land and steal your horse.  Gomez had wanted a horse all his life.  It was a dream of his, and someone stole it. Oh, and dinosaurs too – says Gomez.  Perhaps Mexico isn’t marketing itself right.  Maybe the theme should something like “Come visit Mexico, and experience the land before time.”

         For those of you who aren't familiar with "The Land Before Time", it is a popular childrens movie from the late 1980's.

June 13, 2008

June 13, 2008 - The Navy...

       This is why none of the drivers really like getting fares from the Navy base.  Actions speak louder than words...

       I like how Bob got irritated and called him "Joe."

June 12, 2008

June 12, 2008 – Our Mechanic Stanley

Before me with a not so bright look on his face stands our mechanic Stanley cackling away.  I can’t help but stare at the three metal screws sticking out of his upper jaw.  There are no teeth, just the three metal spikes that likely held them at some point.  Man, meth must be a hell of a drug…  He thinks that the company is a big pile of crap as well so we have something in common.

I don't have a picture of "Stanley", but this is what he'd look like with a beard...

Nice guy when he isn’t stealing our gas and causing us to lose time at work from the new parts that Catherine buys, when she actually decides to buy new parts, and replacing them with old.   Sometimes the parts he puts in are broken to begin with. 

One of our drivers, Jefferson, was having issues with the battery in his taxi.  Jefferson came to the determination that it needed a new battery.  He took the time to bring his taxi to the shop and that did whatever it is that they do there and replaced the battery, or so he was led to believe…  The problem kept occurring and Jefferson kept bringing the taxi to the shop for battery related problems.  On the fourth trip Jefferson was pretty irritated and asked Stanley personally about the problem.  It was at this juncture that Stanley simply giggled and nonchalantly admitted that he had never changed the battery.

What Stanley had been doing was merely washing the battery to make it appear to new, while doing who knows what with the new batteries, and telling Catherine that the car had been fixed.  I’m willing to bet that he was selling them and keeping the money, while Jefferson was getting screwed out of time at work that he could have been making money, not to mention the frustration of dealing with the office.

Then there’s the side business of stealing gas.  It’s fairly obvious, one of the other mechanics even volunteered that he saw Stanley doing this first hand.  Not too long ago I brought my taxi into the shop for a repair.  I brought it in with a full tank of gas.  When I got my cab back there was only  two thirds of a tank left.  So I called the office.

Me: Hi Catherine, I picked up my car from the shop yesterday and it was short of gas.  I’ll go ahead and submit a receipt for the shortage when I pay my lease.
Catherine: *****, when we fix something on a car we take it for a test drive to make sure it has been fixed.
Me: $27 worth?  Where did he test drive it to?
Catherine: Ok *****, I’ll credit you this time.

What a sweetheart.  I guess it would be too much to admit that her mechanic is stealing our gas by siphoning it out of our cars.  I’m not the only driver who has complained about this by the way.   Surely if I made a direct accusation Catherine would want some concrete proof like video evidence or something.  I mean why fix problems when you can just deny them right?  That seems to be the trend.

In addition to selling parts and stealing gas. Stanley makes his money selling  shitty weed, he has a big jar that he keeps it in over at the shop.  I’d never buy weed from Stanley, actually I’d be reluctant to buy anything that he has had his grubby hands on.  Apparently this isn’t enough to pay his debtors though.

A few days ago a few large men came to the office and had a word with Stanley off in the distance.  I wasn’t there that day but Jefferson saw the whole thing.  Stanley was just getting SCREAMED AT!

Jefferson: What was that about?
Stanley: I owe those guys some money.  It’s been a bit and they’re not happy.
Jefferson: How much do you owe them?
Stanley: $200
Jefferson: That sounds bad.  Here’s $200.  You can pay me back next week.
Stanley: Thanks so much Jefferson.

Jefferson’s a stand up guy.  It pains me to see people like Jefferson working here.  Someone with so much potential.  Why am I still here anyways?  I can’t stand these clowns.  I actually got offered a job with the government a while back, but the pay was shit.  Here I stand, the master of reflection.  So many questions…

Who knows what would have happened to Stanley if he didn’t pay those men.  Although, if he isn’t able to pay two large angry men, I don’t know what the chances of him paying Jefferson back are…

June 8, 2008

June 8, 2008 – Mocking the foreigners

           Catherine called me today with another complaint about my attitude.  This time it was about mocking Franco’s inability, or unwillingness, to learn English.  You may remember Franco from of my earlier stories – you know, “El Mejor.”

            I can imagine that it can be a little overwhelming coming to a new country.  Learning a new culture, a new language.  Certainly this isn’t something that can be done over night.  It takes years, if not decades to master.  But after 25 years, I think most people would have a pretty firm grasp on it.  Through immersion if nothing else.  By then I would have to imagine that most people would have realized that, at the very least, in addition to a “past tense” we also have a “present” and “future” tense.  If only El Mejor was as good at conjugating verbs as he was at stealing fares from his fellow drivers…

            Julie: Cab 44
            Me: Go ahead
            Julie: There’s a lady that needs to be picked up at the Shores.
            Me: At the “Shor-ez”?
            Julie: AT THE SHORES!
            Me: Oh, ok.  10-4, I am copy.
            Julie: WHAT!
            Me: I say, 10-4, I am copy.  Are you copy me?
            Julie: YES!

            This was enough to prompt a call from the office.  I don’t see the need to go into that, they’re all the same.

June 7, 2008

June 7, 2008 – Juicio

         Got a good laugh on the radio tonight.  Actually, I pretty much get a good laugh on the radio every night, more than anything by the idiocy surrounding things at this taxi company.  I feel like a neglected vegetable, perhaps the only wholesome thing in this big soupy idiot stew I like to call Cortez Cab.  Masked, overpowered by the salty, fatty meat.  I feel like a carrot, slowly being saturated by the broth, unable to escape, slowly turning into one of them.  Perhaps the company should be likened to an Italian dish rather , after all, there are no shortage of meatballs here.  Yet, I digress.

            Juicio – Eeehhhhhh Caaaab 54
            Juicio – Caaab 54 (2 seconds later)
            Juicio – Caaab 54, are you hear me. (Another 2 seconds later)
            Julie -             YES! WAIT A MINUTE
            Juicio – Why do you no answer me when I call you.
            Juicio – Ehhhhhh I don----------
            Julie – WHAT!
            Juicio – Why are you n--------
            Julie – Someone’s clicki-------
            Julie – ST------ IT
            Juicio – Ok y------ co---  talk t----

            So yeah,  as you probably guessed, one of the other drivers is playing with the radio, interrupting the transmission.  This went on for a bit, I don’t feel the need to elaborate, by now you’ve probably caught onto the theme.  

            Julie is probably sitting in her miniature office chair cursing up a storm, and when I say that the chair is miniature, I am speaking in relative terms.  And Juicio, well, he’s just unable to realize that he’s a problem.  Like a toddler actually.   In retrospect I don’t know if it’s fair for Julie to be yelling at him in the first place.  For all intents and purposes, Juicio is a toddler – would you yell at a toddler?  Well, I probably would, I absolutely hate children.  But is yelling at a toddler beneficial?  I’d say probably not. 

            Myself, well I believe in positive reinforcement.  Maybe if Juicio is able to relax when calling in and not get Julie all riled up he could get a piece of candy, or something shiny.  I think that there’s tinfoil laying around at the office – a handy tool for car repairs here at the company.  Perhaps some of the omnipresent  wood screws, I’m sure that there are a few that have loosened and fallen into my door.  All these wood screws.  Perhaps I’m missing something, could they serve some ornamental purpose?

Now doesn't that look fancy.  Those wood screws serve as a nice contrast to all the grime on the control panel. 

June 5, 2008

June 5, 2008 – Dauf

            Julie: Cab44
            Me: Go Ahead
            Julie: Go pick up at the main gate (of the navy base).
            Me: 10-4

            It takes me a few minutes to get here because I was on the other side of town.   Whenever the dispatcher gives you a call it’s best to head straight there.  All of the radios in our cabs function as a network, so every transmission that is broadcast, between whoever, is heard by everyone in the network.  Also, often times by listening to the radio you can figure out where the other drivers are.  Today Dauf was listening.

            Dauf heard Julie give me a that call a few minutes and thinks that he is closer.   Instinctively, Dauf has decided to try and take the call that was given to me.  It’s nothing personal, he does this to everyone.  He's just a bastard, that's all.  I might not have explained this already, but when the dispatcher sends you to a certain location to pick up a passenger, and you acknowledge her/him, then it is your ride/fare – no one else’s.  It has been given to you, and everyone knows it because it is transmitted throughout the network.  If you want to give it to someone because they are closer, or because they ask you if they can pick it up, well that’s up to you.  That’s your prerogative.

            There are a number of ways that some of the other drivers try and get around this – by saying that they were already there (which often times they aren’t), saying that the passenger was insistent on leaving immediately, that they didn’t hear the radio (everyone listens to the radio), that the person that they picked up didn’t call, and so on.  None of these excuses are very believable.  Dauf gave a good example of this today.

            So as I arrive at the navy base to pick up my passenger I see Dauf a hundred feet or so in front of me trying to pick up my passenger.

            Me: Dauf, what are you doing.
            Me: Dauf, that’s my ride
            Dauf: What?
            Dauf: This guy, were you sent here?
            Me: Yes Dauf, but you already know that don’t you.
            Dauf: He said he didn’t call.  Do you want him.
            Me: Yes Dauf, I’ll take my call.

            It wasn’t a great ride.  About $14.  Nothing to scoff at.  More than anything it’s the principle of the matter.  You just don’t steal from your co-workers.  Unless they have previously stolen from you.  I believe in retribution.  The company believes in passivity.  Well let me tell you, passivity gets you nowhere in the cab racket.

June 4, 2008

June 4, 2008 – The Garbage House

            Just got a call.  Von’s grocery store in the back.  Typically these are not good calls, god bless em’, but usually they are some senior citizen that is going for a ride of less than half a mile – hence, a bad ride.  Most people seem to think that we like these short rides.  WE DO NOT.  Sometimes we sit around for 3 hours on a slow day waiting to get a ride, so if we get a ride from the grocery store for 6 blocks and make 6 dollars, that means that we have just made 2 dollars per hour for the last three hours, not to mention that we have to pay roughly $60 per day to use the taxi.  So, it’s more like we just paid $54 dollars to become frustrated.  I’m no math whiz but that just doesn’t add up in my book.  Usually they are nice little old ladies though so you cant really be mad at them, anyways that’s what we are here for I guess.

            Well, this isn’t just some little old lady.  This is the grumpy, old bag that lives at 432 E. Street.  We’ll call her Lois.  We all hate picking her up.  She knows that the fare is exactly 5 dollars to her house, so she demands to be paid up front (which we aren’t required to do since the meter goes by time as well as distance), makes you fold up her walker and put it into the trunk, and complains the whole way home about something or another.  This time was no exception… 

            Once one of our drivers named Roldando brought her home a few days ago, but started the meter as soon as he got to the grocery store and it ran as he loaded her and her belongings into the car.  When he got to her house it was $7.60 and she wasn’t paying.   I heard that he called the cops, I’d love to have seen that.  I kind of doubt that actually happened, but nothing shocks me with this company anymore.

Another time one of our drivers, Jefferson, dropped her off at her house and walked her to the door.  When he peeked inside there were just boxes and boxes everywhere.  And it smelled like cat shit.  Just like in that TV show “Hoarders.”  For those of you who don’t know, “Hoarders” is a cable television show about people who have basically given up on life (mostly obese old women) and how they are living in squalor.  They collect, and save, pretty much everything that they can get their hands on.  Sometimes they find dead cats under underneath piles of rubble.  When Jefferson dropped Lois off she noticed that he had caught a glance of her lair.

Lois: Someone’s coming to clean that up tomorrow
Jefferson: (With a suspicious nod) Mmmm hmmm.

From how the place had been described, it would have looked something like this.

            Jefferson said that it looked like the place hadn’t been cleaned in years.  What are the chances that the place was scheduled to be cleaned after years of neglect immediately after an outsider caught a peek inside?  What a coincidence…

June 3, 2008

June 3, 2008 – Cannonball!

This is hilarious.  I don't ever remember watching this but I believe it used to be an old MTV skit.  Something that they would play during commercial breaks.  It pains me to see what comes to mind when people think of your typical cab driver - or perhaps your quintessential cab driver...

June 2, 2008

June 2, 2008 – The Hidden Compartment

            Thump, thump, thump…

            That’s never a good sign.  I exited the taxi and took a look around.  It was a flat tire, as I had suspected.  I really hate changing tires, especially on these cars.  They’re filthy.  With tires like these it’s no surprise that there are blowouts. 

            So here I am, staring blankly into an empty trunk.  Oh sure there were things in there, just nothing useful.  There was Windex, some old oily rags, and a musty smell.  Oh yeah, there was a shitty old spare tire – but once again, nothing useful.  I pull out the spare, which was pretty low on air, not much better than my flat tire I might add.  But there’s a problem, there’s no jack.  That’s sort of an important step – to jack up the car.  To my surprise there was a tire iron.  I call the office.

            Me: Hi Julie, is Catherine there?
            Julie: Ugh, hold on.
            Catherine: Hello
            Me: Hey Catherine, it’s *****
            Catherine: What’s the problem?
            Me: I have a flat tire and there doesn’t seem to be a jack in the car.
            Catherine: Did you check the trunk?
            Me: …Yes Catherine, I looked in the trunk.
            Catherine: Did you check in the side compartment?
Me: Well, I’m not exactly sure where that is but I’ve looked everywhere in the trunk.           
Catherine: I’ll come over.

So this took a good 45 minutes or so.  It probably took so long because she let Earl driver her over.  I’d never get behind the wheel with that guy, some of Cortez’s residents feel that way as well.  Yeah, he’s still driving people around in his late 80’s.   Unreal.  And what the fuck was with her asking if I had looked in the trunk?  I just wanted to say something like “No, I’ve just been looking in the glove box” or “I already checked my pockets, I don’t know where else it could be.”  Give me a little credit.

So Catherine walks over to the trunk, grabs a felt panel, and peels it back.  No shit, there’s a secret compartment in the trunk.   I never would have found this.  Turns out that I’m not the only driver who has had issues looking for the jack here.  How am I supposed to know about this.  There’s no marking, labeling, or visible seam to hint that there is a hidden compartment.  Catherine just gave me a funny look as if I wasted her time, and truthfully I did, but if she had just explained a little better this all could have been prevented. 

Luckily I had brought a change of clothes with me – namely a black shirt.  Catherine has adopted a uniform policy where drivers can wear black pants and a white, black or yellow collared shirt.  Not many of the drivers follow this.  I usually wear t-shirts because they are more comfortable.  I’ve never once heard a customer complain about what I was wearing.  Catherine claims that customers complain about how I am dressed all the time.  Really, a clean t-shirt and jeans?  I drive a taxi not a limo.

I’m not sure exactly who it is, but it’s become fairly obvious that Catherine has drivers that keep and eye on things for her.  Most likely one of the daytime drivers, there’s quite a few ass kissers during the day that try to get brownie points from the office.  They mainly keep watch for unimportant things like who is wearing the required company uniform.  The office used to send one of the workers out on surveillance missions with a camera to take a picture of anyone who wasn’t wearing the “official colors.”  There are some drivers who wear the same black shirt, or white or yellow for that matter, for days on end.  By the third or fourth day they are covered with b.o. and stains from eating on the road.  This is all ok though…

June 1, 2008

June 1, 2008 – A Fistful of Dollars

            Today I brought a group of Asians to the Airport.  What part of Asia they were from, that I’ll never know.   They looked like they were from Japan perhaps?  They were talking amongst themselves on the way there, I have no idea what about.  They were most likely here for the biotech convention.  Our convention center is enormous, sometimes we get conventions upwards of 120,000 people.  That’s our biggest one at least.  It’s called “Comic Con.”

This is a photo I shot from the San Diego Convention Center a while back.  I'm facing Northeast.  Truthfully I'd wished that it had turned out a little better, you don't get those rich dark skies when there are clouds.  They seem to trap the light which gives everything an orangish glow, and a warmer color temperature.  This is also due in large part to sodium vapor light typically found in street lamps.  Tungsten bulbs give off a whiter/cooler look (the lights inside of the railing) and are, in my opinion, much more pleasing for night photography.  These color casts can be minimized by shooting in black and white at night.  The same photo is pictured below, in black and white.  I used photoshop and bumped up the brightness a bit and toned down the highlights (the lights on the staircase).  There are like four huge staircases going up to the top.

            When we got to the airport they were frantically digging around I their pockets.  They just gave me a handful of money, probably $25 or so.  The fare was $23.60.  Then they gave me another handful, and another, and another.  They thanked me over and over and scurried out of the car.  It took me a minute to straighten out all of the crumpled bills.  When it was over I came away with $63.   It was a good day.