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October 15, 2008

October 15, 2008 – The Main Gate

           Today one of the Navy carriers came into port. When I asked one of my fellow drivers which one it was he replied “The big one with the stupid people.”  Unfortunately this didn’t narrow things down much.

            We have a couple carriers that are ported here in Cortez.  The “Nixon” just left – it’s now ported up in Washington I believe.  Today it was the “USS Kissinger” that pulled in.  They’re all the same, just big ships with a bunch of people.  That’s not how some of the sailors see it though.  For a while we had 3 ships in port.  The Richard Millhouse Nixon, the Henry Alfred Kissinger, and the Spiro Theodore Agnew.  It’s true that Agnew and Kissinger don’t have a ship named after them, or Nixon for that matter (and it’s likely that none of them ever will) but just like my blog, their true identity will be forever shrouded in anonymity, or as much anonymity is possible at this point.  I’d hate to defame such a stellar service that Catherine runs over here.  And so I digress.

            At any rate those hooligans from the Nixon caused us quite a bit of trouble when they were in port.  They had so many of their sailors receive DUI’s that they imposed a ban on rental cars.  One of them tried to choke the cashier at the McDonalds on base.

            One day a while back a few of the sailors from competing ships got into a pissing contest about “who’s ship was the best” and started a giant brawl.  Something like 140 people were involved.  In all fairness it’s not all that unusual for people to get into an argument about this sort of stuff.  We call them children.

            One thing that I do enjoy when these ships come in is the business that they generate.  We get a huge influx of business for the first few hours that a ship comes into port.  I just go straight to the main gate and pick up whomever needs a ride.  There’s no shortage of people who need a taxi at the main gate.  People often try to bargain with me on the fare.  I don’t play that game when it’s busy, and with the Navy, when it’s likely that they won’t be tipping.  Were not alone, I talk to the servers at the local restaurants and they don’t get tipped either.  I don’t make up the rates, the city does, and although they are expensive, they’re fair.

            Since it’s so busy at the main gate there is typically a shortage of drivers throughout the city that are needed to pick up passengers at other establishments/homes.  As soon as I come back into Cortez, Catherine tries to send me to these.  I used to oblige, although since her thievery involving her competing livery service has become more flagrant I have quit doing so. 

            I’m out here to make money, not to appease my boss who is intent on stealing from us, and since it’s become clear that there doesn’t seem to be any sanctions handed down from the cab company, I don’t see the harm.  I just go over and over to the main gate and grab rides for $20 a pop.  I do it for the principle of the matter mostly, and to make Catherine steam.  If she’s going to illegally operate her livery service I’m going to make her work for that money.   Money that she’s not legally entitled to by the way, so that I can make less.  I sometimes turn the radio off entirely so that I don’t have to listen to Julie or Catherine asking frantically for help.

            The business continues through the night, but dwindles after a few hours and then spikes again, typically around 11, since the sailors usually need to be back on the ship by midnight.  When they leave the bars and request a ride back to the base they usually need a little help.  This was my conversation from my last ride.

            Me: Hello, where are you going?
            Sailor: To the base.
            Me: Which base are you going to ? (There’s like 7 Navy installations near the City of San Diego)
            Sailor: The Navy base.
            Me: Which Navy base are you going to?
            Sailor: The Navy base.
            Me: Right, but there are several, I need to know which specific one you are going to.
            Sailor: The one here on the Island, on the other side.
            Me: They’re all on the other side.  What’s the name of the base you need to get to?
            Sailor: I’m going to the ship.
            Me: What’s it called?
            Sailor: It’s over there. (Pointing)

            This is ridiculous.  How can you not know the name of the ship your on, or which base you’re currently ported at?  These are kind of important details.  Do they lose their gun too?

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