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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Taxi 1

My new adventure has begun.  I have the most dangerous job in what Forbes magazine has labeled the most dangerous city in the U.S. I’m now an officially licensed and bonded Yellow Cab driver in Memphis. While I’ve only been at it now for two days, I must say it’s fun.  There’s the anticipation of waiting for a call; the suspense of blindly following the Tom Tom’s directions, hoping it’s accurate; the relief and sense of accomplishment when you turn the corner to find your passenger waiting; the fun of meeting someone new, and seeing areas of the city you’ve never seen before.

Some of you may question why Eddie is driving a cab after such as successful career as an ad agency creative director, and after operating his own advertising and design business now for 19 years.  You can thank George Bush and the stinking republicans for creating the greatest economic crises since 1929.  I’m down to one active client, and need to supplement my income.

My first day out was pretty slow, only four trips and two no-shows.  One of the trips was taking a patient home from the hospital.  The poor guy looked to be around 85, and had to be helped into the cab.  Along the way, I was hoping he wouldn’t die in the cab.

The second day was much better, 15 trips.  I began the day at 4:30 a.m. since there are many who need a cab to get to work.  At 8:30, I picked up two 20 something guys outside Alex’s Tavern.  These two were completely shit-faced.  The must have been at it all night. They got in the cab and said ”Hookers and crack. We want hookers and crack.”  “Can’t help you there. Besides, I don’t think you’ll find any hookers out at 8:30,” I replied.  When we arrived, the drunker of the two wouldn’t get out.  I threatened twice to call the police.  Finally I told his buddy to just push him out. Reminds me of my earlier days, but instead of asking for hookers and crack, my refrain was “Bacon and eggs.”

I also met a nice young couple from Australia who are bummng around the U.S.  I took them to a hostel in the Cooper Young area.  I never knew about this place before.

When I applied to be a driver, I was told there would be a three day training course. “Three days!” I thought. “What’s to know? You drive a car, pick up and deliver a passenger.”  Well, there’s more to it, of course.

In the old days, the two-way radio was how drivers were notified of a fare, and so on.  Today, the radio is rarely used.  It’s all done through the on-board computer.

The city has been divided into 565 zones.  Each zone is two miles square.  The computer displays the active zones, how many fares, and how many cabs are in each zone.  When you’re notified of a fare, the computer dings several times, and on the screen is displayed “fare available in zone 111 (or the zone you’re in).  You have the choice of accepting or declining.  When you accept, the screen displays the pick up address, it’s page number in the map book, the passengers name, the destination, and any other pertinent information. You can also ask for displayed fares in other zones as long as you’re within eight miles of that fare.

Along the way, the driver can enter a code which notifies the passenger how much time it will take to reach their location.  The driver can also use this system to notify the passenger that the cab has arrived.  Pretty cool, huh?

There is also a secret method for summoning the police.  And, if you’re being taken for a ride, the system notifies the police of your exact location and movement.  Bring it on, suckas!

© 2010, Eddie Tucker.  All rights reserved.

(Disclaimer:  The views expressed on this post are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Yellow Cab, Checker Cab, or Premier Transportation Services.)

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