Follow by Email

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Taxi 9

Thursday day shift 6a-6p

The day started out good–two airport trips.  The first was a freshman from Rhodes College going to meet her family in Montana.  I asked how she liked college.  “I like it and I like Rhodes.  I even like Memphis,” she said.

The second was a young woman who was here to be interviewed for admission to the College of Optometry.  She was returning to a freezing West Virginia.

The rest of the early morning was a variety of run-of-the-mill short hops, then things slowed down until mid afternoon.  When things slow down, a lot of drivers will hang out at the hotels.  I know one guy who waited at The Peabody for two and a half hours before getting a trip.  I can’t stand to sit at one location for more than twenty minutes.  Instead, I drive around the city from zone to zone until the computer rings those familiar “TRIP” chimes.  It’s kind of like being a pin ball rolling around until you hit the jackpot.  On this day, I even trolled through south Memphis.  The people who use cabs most often are those who can least afford it.  It’s because they either don’t have a car, or their car is broken down.  But it’s like George Carlin said, “Everybody has to be someplace,” and it’s my job to get them there.  Isn’t that right , Chuck? Chuck says, “That’s right.”

Which reminds me of one time when I was visiting my friend J.T. in New Orleans.  J.T. lived in a one room apartment in the Quarter overlooking a courtyard on Chartres Street about a block from Jackson Square. J.T. and his friend Parker, both artists who sold their paintings on the fence around the square, and I were walking down the street headed for a bar on an overcast but balmy January day.  Along the way, Parker was telling us about the woman he was with the night before.  Parker was in his sixties and had long grey hair and full beard, and was a caution if you get my drift.  Anyway, he was describing his sexual encounter with vivid detail when I noticed a priest walking toward us headed in the opposite direction.  I thought Parker would certainly cool it when the priest got close, but instead he increased the volume of his description  and looked at the priest and said, “Isn’t that right, father,” to which the priest replied, “that’s right, my son.”  Only in Nawlins!

Another one of J.T.’s friends was Jack the cop.  He was like a stoned Dirty Harry.  One time Jack got stoned while on duty and forgot where he parked the squad car.  The next week, the Department had him patrolling on horseback a block-long median strip on St. Charles.

On another occasion, the police were responding to a rape incident.  Seems that a guy was raping his granddaughter.  Jack got there first and went up to the third floor and arrested the guy then brought him out on the balcony to let the other cops know.  When the sergeant told Jack to “get that guy down here immediately,” Jack threw him over the balcony.

Speaking of the Big Easy, a couple of months ago I had a craving for oysters.  I hadn’t had any since that venerable midtown institution Anderton’s closed.  For those of you who have never been there, Anderton’s was a special place.  The main dining room was decorated to look like it was under the sea, while the oyster bar was a bar constructed to look like a square rigger complete with sails and rigging, and the walls were adorned with murals of a giant 19th century sea battles.  It was a place where the waitresses called you “Hon,” and the steaks came to the table still sizzling.

So, I had the craving for oysters and I went to the place where I was sure to get the best, Pearl’s Oyster House.  Well their oysters were the size of a quarter.  I looked at the bartender and told him these were a joke, and I went to Oak Grove in Laurelwood where I enjoyed a dozen nice-sized oysters.  A month later I gave Pearl’s another chance but it was the same old story.  I spoke to the manager and told him about the Oak Grove and suggested he change his supplier.  He blamed it on the oil spill.  Look, if you’re going to call your place an Oyster House, you damn well better have some great oysters.

But this is about driving a cab in the Bluff City.  As I said, it was a slow, uneventfull day–a good time to reminisce.

© 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.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Taxi 8

Worked Wednesday and Thursday day shifts, and Friday night.

 I try to abide be the golden rule of never discussing politics or religion.  But when a passenger breaches the topic, well, I don’t want to seem unsociable.

I took this cool guy from home to work at the FedEx hub, and after some small talk about his job, he said, “Ya know, Republicans just don’t care about average Americans, they only care about the rich.”  “ I hear ya, my friend,” I responded, eager to launch into my tirade.  “They believe if businesses are not regulated, then businesses will make so much money, it will trickle down to the rest of us.  But, they’re blind to fact that this theory never worked and only leads to greed which then leads to a disasterous economy.”  “They said they’re going to undo everything Obama has done,” he said, obviously referring to that narrow minded simpleton Senator Mitch McConnell.  “They can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk?” I asked.  I pointed out that after the big Republican victory in the mid-term election of 1994, Bill Clinton accomplished more than before.  “Over the next two years when voters see what the Republicans are really about, Obama will be re-elected and more Democrats will return to Congress.  But, I’m as frustrated as you and there’s not much I can do about it except cast my vote.”  We continued in this vein until we got to FedEx where we shook  hands and bid each other to keep the faith.

Ask yourself this: Over time, what have the Republicans done to improve our lives?
Other than Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, I can’t think of a single thing.

Now ask the same about the Democrats, and here’s a few:
1. Social Security
2. Federally insured bank accounts
3. Veterans Benefits
4. Voting Rights
5  Civil Rights
6. Medicare and Medicaid
7. Healthcare reform
8. Financial reform

Picked  up a young woman in Midtown headed for the airport.  She was returning to Australia after visiting her boyfriend here.  Talk about your long-distance romance, I thought. “Why don’t you move up here?” I asked.  “I’m a physician, and I’m about to start training for surgery,” she replied. “If I moved here, I would lose that opportunity.”

I love talking to foreigners.  I got a guy at Oak Court Mall and took him to the Hilton.  He was from Germany, but wasn’t very talkative.  I kept expecting him to say, “You vill take me to de hotel.”

Around dusk, I picked up a passenger at Target going to his hotel.  When he got in the cab he said, “Howdy mate.”  “Australia,” I replied.  “South Africa,” he quipped.  He was cool.  He lives in Toronto where he said the temperature was in the forties, and that he doesn’t like cold weather. “What’s the weather like in your country? I asked.  “365 days of golf, “ was his answer.  He’s a partner in a marketing firm and was here to meet with Hilton Wolrdwide. He had worked in several of the big ad agencies both in the U.S. and Europe.  I told him my background.  We commiserated over similar experiences along the way.  I would have liked to share a beer with him. Got a nice tip.

Took a young guy on a round trip from his apartment to a couple of stops and back.  He has cerebral palsy, and walks with his legs bent low, almost in a siting position.  It was obviously very difficult for him.  His name is Antonio and he’s twenty nine.  A nice guy with a healthy attitude and good sense of humor.  Said he prefers not to use a wheel chair.  He said people often stare at him, so I told him to tell them that he’s getting ready to take a big shit. He laughed.

I got a signal to go to the Residence Inn downtown where I picked up a family of four who were headed to a wedding reception at the Pink Palace.  The father sat up front.  They were from Florence. Alabama.  I told him that I spent the night there once when I rode my Harley on the Natchez Trace Parkway up to Nashville.  He proceeded to tell me about everyone he knows who has had a motorcycle accident.  Apparently he knows a bunch of dumb asses.

Around midnight I picked up a guy at the Med.  I could hardly understand a word he said.  It wasn’t just Ebonics, but maybe a combination of that and a speech impediment. I was able to figure out he was asking me to take him to Millbranch and Winchester for ten dollars.  “No problem,” I said.   Along the way he was very talkative.  All I could do was shake my head as if I understood.  At one point, I said, “You sound like you’re from a different country.”  He laughed and said, “the country ok.”

Later I picked up a guy a 35 S. Prescott across from Poplar Plaza.  It was a round trip to a seedy neighborhood north of Summer Ave. where he went into a house for a couple of minutes and returned.  An obvious drug deal. On the way back he talked about the big Thanksgiving dinner he prepared.  When we arrived at his place, he bolted from the cab without paying.  I tried to find him and had the dispatcher call him but of course he didn’t answer. It was a twenty dollar fare.

From there I picked up an inebriated CPA at a bar on Highland near the U of M.  As he got in he asked, “How’s it going?”  “Some mother fucker just ripped me off for twenty bucks!” I exclaimed.  “Man, that’s not right, he said.  “Look, I’ll give you an extra twenty when you drop me off.”  “No man, you don’t have to do that,” I replied.  “But I want to make this right.  Just turn off the meter and I’ll give you forty dollars in advance,” he kindly offered.  He needed to go to his condo downtown which would normally run about fifteen dollars.  I accepted his offer because Mrs. Tucker didn’t raise no dummy.

So, all’s well that ends well.

© 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.)