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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Taxi 5

Thursday proved to be a good day.  The weather was great and I had four airport trips.

The first was a business man from northern California, Silicon Valley.  He said this was his first trip to Memphis, and gave me the impression that he thought Memphis was some backwater town.  So, I told him about FedEx, Holiday Inn, Scherring Plough, International Paper, UT Medical School, Sharp Manufacturing, Nike and St Jude.  About Memphis being the home of the blues and birthplace of both rock n’ roll and soul music. I told him about the National Civil Rights Museum, Stax Records, the Smithsonian’s Rock N’ Soul Museum, Gibson Guitars and Morgan Freeman’s night club Ground Zero.  He left impressed.

The next was another business man who talked on his cell the entire trip.

Number three was a young guy from Indiana who works for Smith & Nephew, and who is moving his family to Memphis.  He said he heard Germantown is a good place to live.  I tried to convince him to move to Frasyer.

Later I picked up an older couple at a beautiful house in Chickasaw Gardens.  They were headed to Baltimore for their son’s wedding.  They had a lot of luggage but they managed to get it all in the trunk. The son is thirty and one of four children.  The other three are all women.  The son is a chef, and along with his partner, is opening a restaurant in Chattanooga which will be the bride and groom’s home as well.  From that point on we discussed SEC football, which led us to the University of Memphis football team.  We all agreed that coach Larry Porter, first year or not, should be fired.  My heart goes out to the players who put their hearts and souls into the games only to suffer from high, lopsided losses.  There’s no excuse.  The team has absolutely no defense.  The defensive coordinator should have been replaced after the third loss.  Porter is incompetent.  The three of us also agreed that the school shouldn’t have fired Tommy West who took the team to four bowl games, a better performance than any coach in recent memory.

The only other passengers worth mentioning was a couple from Chile.  I picked them up at Oak Court mall and took them to the Marriott downtown.  They had come to the U.S. just to visit Memphis.  They spoke little English, but did manage to say Graceland and “Beeela” Street.

Friday, I worked the 2pm­–2am shift.

I picked up at the Botanical Gardens.  They were from upstate New York where it was snowing when they left.  They were here as tourists, and marveled at the beautiful weather.  In fact, they couldn’t stop asking questions about our weather.  I felt like Dave Brown.  We also talked about Graceland and while they weren’t big fans, they were nevertheless impressed and moved by the tour. I told them I had been to Graceland twice, and back when Elvis was alive, how it was always comforting to know when he was at home. I gave them some suggestions on other places to go and dropped them off at the Rendezvous.  One wiff of barbecue and I was headed to Corky’s in east Memphis.  Corky’s has a drive in window so I could eat in the cab.

I’m not used to staying up all night.  Hell, I’m usually in bed by nine, so working all night takes it out of me.

Friday night was unusually slow probably because of the Tiger’s basketball game.  I’ll have to tell the university not to play basketball when I’m working.

Had a couple of fares of a young woman in each going to work at two different restaurants.

I also picked up a topless dancer and took her to work at the Gold Club.  Unfortunately she wasn’t dressed for work.  She also wasn’t very friendly.  She had me wait at TJ Max while she did some shopping.  With the meter running, I sat there and imagined she must be buying something to wear on the job.  All I got out of her was that she was from Hot Springs.  She was thin, and looked to be all of twelve years old.

Later I went to one of those by-the-hour motels on South Bellevue where I picked up a very attractive black woman. “Whew!”, she said, “Those people are crazy.  I was invited to a party and sat there thinking these folks need to get a degree and get some jobs.”  She told me she was originally from Pennsylvania, and has two children in the Navy, and two in high school making As and Bs.  She was nice.  I had to take her to dreaded South Memphis where I didn’t linger very long.

I spent some time trolling the streets downtown and was flagged by two guys: one from Wisconin and the other from St. Louis who decided to meet up here for some R & R.  I took them to the hotel, and they asked where in town would I go for an evening out.  I suggested they eat at Sweet Grass in the Cooper Young district and take in some live music at the Young Avenue Deli.  Good tip to them, and them to me.

Got a signal to pick up at Tugs in Harbortown.  Two guys got in.  One middle aged the other around forty, and he was pretty drunk. They wanted to go to another bar, Molly Maguire’s in Victorian Village.  They weren’t very talkative.  Later that night I was sent back to Molly Maguire’s where I picked up the same two guys who wanted to return to the first bar.  The younger one kept passing out, but at one point when he was awake, the other guy asked him how his interview went with Vince Vaughn.  I was able to learn he was trying out for Vaughn’s comedy tour.

At around 12:45 I settled on waiting in line at the Beale Street cab stand.  I could tell how slow the night was because there were at least ten cabs in line.  The deal at a cab stand is the first in line gets the next fare.  I like this cab stand because it gives me a chance for some good people watching.  After about twenty minutes, a phalanx of cops approached the cabs giving each of us an eagle-eyed look.  I immediately felt guilty, but then I was raised by a Jewish mother.  Apparently someone must have sent a cab distress signal, but it was a false alarm.  Reassuring nevertheless.

My last fare was from the cab stand.  A twenty-something guy whom I took to a house in Midtown.

When you return to the cab yard, you get your tank filled and write down the mileage on the odometer on your trip card then take the gas receipt and card to the supervisor along with any credit card receipts.  He adds an amount  for gas to the lease amount then deducts the credit card amounts from that.  I pay the balance, which tonight was $103.10.

I almost forgot to mention that during my shift I had four no-shows (assholes who make other arrangements but who don’t call and cancel the cab).

© 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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