September 25, 2008
Some more photos from Balboa Park. I believe most of these are on my flickr account as well if you're interested.
September 24, 2008
Julie (one of the obese dispatchers) just sent me to pick up Robert Pervantes again. It shouldn’t have been my call but the first 3 drivers refused to pick him up. They told Julie that they already had picked up a passenger, or that they were taking fares only from the other side of town, or that they were waiting on a passenger. All lies. It doesn’t take much to fool Julie though. She’s like a dinosaur - big body, little brain. A modern day Brontosaurus if you will. It was slow so I agreed to retrieve him.
I agreed to drive him once around the block so that he could attempt to peer into the window of his sister’s house and lust after her boyfriend. From the sounds of it they don’t allow him over at all anymore. Then he wanted to talk about his camera. Robert has this crappy little point and shoot that he uses. He tried showing me all of the pictures that he had shot in the last week of his day-to-day activities. I told him that I had to concentrate on driving.
Robert: Could we sit down by the water?
Me: No, the car has to be moving. I don’t care where we go, but we have to be driving.
Me: Yeah, sorry, it’s a new company policy.
Robert: I see.
As you might expect, this simply isn’t true. I can’t imagine many things that I might enjoy less than getting paid peanuts to sit by the water in the dark and talk with Robert about who knows what. Nope, were not doing that. From the sounds of it Robert just needs a friend more than anything. Surely they have services that offer such a thing. Me, my services entail picking people up and driving them. Turns out Robert is actually the one who is driving – driving me insane…
September 19, 2008
Today one of our drivers cabs broke down. Well, it wasn’t a routine breakdown, although a routine one for this company.
“Quincy” picked up young lady who was going out to South San Diego. This is one of the better rides that we get – typically $35 - $40. If were lucky we get one of these rides every day or two, although we would get quite a few more if Catherine wasn’t sending her liveries to pick up our rides. Lining her grubby little pockets.
It’s only fair that I say a little about the livery scheme, as a premise to the story. Truthfully it’s a rather dry topic, but an important one for a cabbie. There are two competing services at “Cortez Cab.” A livery service, and a taxi service. A clear conflict of interest.
A taxi can be hailed/called for on the spot. A livery/charter vehicle cannot. Liveries/charters have a set of guidelines regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission that states the legal requirements. Namely they are that a prior reservation must be made, and that a set fare must be established. I believe the fare is established by distance and number of riders in most cases. Taxis have a metered rate that is set by the city. The meter is calibrated according to time and distance.
Anyways, what Catherine often does is take people that call and ask for a taxi and talk them into a livery. The liveries are paid hourly and only keep tips. Catherine pays for their gas and maintenance, and keeps the rate that is charged. Sometimes she just makes up the rate, or the livery driver tells the office that they picked up 3 passengers when they really picked up 5 -and charged them for 5 people I might add. This isn’t speculation.
Point is we cherish these long rides, nowadays more than ever. When Quincy picked up his passenger, “Anna”, he knew from the get go that the car was performing at an even lower level than normal. There was a certain jerkiness in the steering wheel. That didn’t stop Quincy. That wouldn’t stop me.
So as Quincy and Anna are coming out of Cortez there is suddenly a loud clanking.
Anna: Do you hear that?
Quincy: Yeah, I’m not sure what that is.
Anna: Do you think that’s ok?
Quincy: Yeah, but I should probably take a look at it next chance we get to stop.
Just a few minutes later the steering wheel suddenly jerked to the left side. Quincy had to quickly compensate and jerk the wheel to the right. The taxi careened left and nearly did a nosedive into the ground.
Anna: Uh, are we losing parts?
Quincy: Yeah, I think so.
Quincy pulled over and another driver with the company brought Anna to her destination. Quincy wasn’t happy. Not only did he miss out on the $40, but he lost two hours of his time and had to speak with the office. He was immediately blamed for the incident. This is typical – a default reaction by the office. Sometimes drivers do neglect their cars, lord knows I do, but often times things just break. A little jerkiness in the steering wheel could just as easily have been chalked up to a power steering leak, a misalignment, or in this case, a shitty old taxi. Quincy had every reason to think that everything was, well, routine…
September 11, 2008
I spoke with one of the drivers on the cab stand today. A driver who I won’t name. A few days he had to stop by the office, which he dreads as well, to pay his cab lease. He thought that he would stop by the bathroom while he was there.
We’ve spoke at length about the office, and the lunacy that surrounds it. Saturating it. Particularly the religious stuff. Particularly the stuff in the bathroom. It seems that Catherine is under the impression that people enjoy reading passages from the bible while they pee and poop. Well the driver in question, who we’ll call "Elmer", gave his take on the subject. An expression of his own.
And look at the faucet, does that thing even turn on? How will people wash away their sins?
September 9, 2008
I like to check my stats for my blog periodically. I'm curious to see who is reading my blog, or perhaps better yet, what they are looking for when they come across my blog. These were the top 10 searches that led people to my blog this week.
September 7, 2008
Today Mostafa, another one of our Iraqi drivers, had a funny interaction with Catherine on the radio. This was shortly after one of his fellow drivers called him out on the radio for stealing a ride.
Driver C: Hey Mostafa, you just took my ride. I was sent here for the people who you just picked up.
Mostafa: No, they didn’t call.
Driver C: Yeah, they did. And I was the one that they sent, not you.
Mostafa: No, they’re different.
Mostafa happened to be closer to the call and just decided to pick up the people who were waiting. This happens all the time, and us honest drivers (all 4 of us) don’t much like it. We’ve tried to talk to the offenders personally, and went through the office to no avail. There’s no punishment handed down for this sort of thing. Not by the office at least. That didn’t prevent Franco from getting his nose broken though. An informal punishment.
This quickly escalated between Mostafa and the fellow drivers to the point where Catherine decided to intervene. Not for the sake of the driver whom had his ride stolen though, but for the sake of keeping the radio quiet. Catherine is under the impression that if customers in the cabs hear any bickering between the drivers that they will be outraged and refuse to ride with the company, or call the city, which is what scares Catherine most. She thinks that these supposedly disenfranchised passengers are going to come to city council meetings and complain about the service. Unfathomable, simply unfathomable…
Catherine: Cab 18 (Mostafa)
Mostafa: Cab 18 go ahead.
Catherine: Landline the office. (Call the office)
Mostafa: No thanks.
Catherine: Landline the office.
Mostafa: No, I’m not doing that. Maybe later I will
Catherine: (Not realizing that she still had her finger keying the mic) Boy, he’s got a mouth on him.
This is just another example of Catherine’s lack of control over the employees. Truthfully the employees run the show. They could probably run the company better too. Hell, they might even incorporate technology… Perhaps they would even use a computer? Catherine probably has a series of stone tablets that she carves notes onto.