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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Taxi 13

Monday was a beautiful day with warm temps, and busy.  It was non-stop, plus traffic all over town was heavier than normal.  I attribute the increased business and traffic to the weather. The whole city must have decided to get the heck out of the house because the week before was bitter cold with snow.

I was so busy I don’t know how many trips I had, and I can’t remember them all.  Perhaps I should take a secretary with me to take notes.  Anybody up for the job?  The pay is nada dollars and zilch cents.

Picked up a guy at the bus station to go to a hotel in east Memphis.  He said he rode the bus from Burlington, NC and it took 19 hours.  “I’ll never do that again,” he said.  He’s a trucker for a company located in Memphis.  The company has an account with Yellow Cab so this was a voucher trip.  Good dough!  For some reason, he and I got into a conversation about professional wrestling.  I told him my story about my childhood hero Billy Wicks and how he came to eat lunch with me at school one day.  The trucker said he had photos of him as a kid with several famous grapplers including the legendary “Nature Boy” Buddy Rodgers.  He then told me about his Nigerian girlfriend whom he plans to marry.  “She’s not like American women,” he said, “she treats me like a king.”  I thought to myself that will probably change once she gets to know our ways.

Picked up a woman who said she just spent $6,000 to rid her attic of rats.  She said the whole neighborhood is infested.  “Do they kill the rats?” I asked.  “No,” she replied, it’s illegal.”  She said the examinator uses a spray which drives the rats out, then they seal the roof.  Her cab trip was only a few blocks, but she paid me more than twice the fare.  Rats, I wish I could remember her name.

Wednesday was a big day for two reasons.

First, ten other drivers and I had to attend a safe driving course.  We met at the cab yard and traveled together in a van to the meeting.  Along the way everyone was griping about having to do this.  Among us there was probably collectively over 4,000 hours of driving experience.  We probably have to do this so the company can maintain a good insurance rating.

The first hour was devoted to marketing presented by the company’s marketing director.  The theme was how we each could make more money.  Did you know that one way is to use breath mints?  Well, it makes since.  You don’t want to talk to passengers with your breath smelling like you just had the latest Subway footlong special of garlic and dung beetles.

The marketing show and tell was really pretty good with some useful info.  Plus we each got a free Elvis pen.  Every time I tried to use it, it only wrote “hunka, hunka burning love.”

The next three hours was on safe and defensive driving.  The majority agreed to skip some breaks so we could get this over with quicker.  At one point, I slipped out and went through an exit into the stairwell to take a smoke, because I’m addicted to nicotine and was going nuts.  Naturally I got locked out.  I swear I checked the door first before exiting to make sure that wouldn’t happen.  But that’s my luck, always getting caught with my hand in the cookie jar like being suspended four times and finally expelled from Snowden Junior High.  Yes fans, I was a juvie: just harmless, stupid stuff like dismantling water fountains and placing the hardware in the locker of kid we didn’t like, or throwing spitballs at the blackboard when the teacher’s back was turned.  Hell, today kids bring guns to school.  What will kids be doing in ten years?

Anyway, our new director of operations was at the meeting and we had some pretty good discussions.  I like this new guy.  He seems sincere and determined to make some needed improvements.

The second reason this was a big day is because this was the day the Memphis Flyer hit the stands with the cover story about this here blog.  The Flyer reprinted excerpts leading to new found respect for me at the cab yard.

Wanna know the name of the Yellow Cab yellow?  Its Swamp Holly Yellow, and research shows it is the most visible color.  So next time you’re down in the swamp, pick you some Swamp Holly.  They’re perty!


My first rider was a business man going from the Hilton to the airport.  He said he’d been waiting a half hour, and asked why there weren’t any cabs at the hotel.  “I’m sorry you had to wait,” I told him,  “there is usually at least one cab there, but this has been a pretty hectic morning.”  He was concerned about missing his flight, but I assured him that Fast Eddie will get him there in plenty of time.  “Where you from?” I asked.  “New York,” he replied.  A few minutes passed and I inquired about what type of business he’s in. “Banking,” was his answer.  “How’s the banking business these days?” I asked.  “It’s good.  Its like the last two years never happened,” he said.  I asked him, “Are banks lending money again?”  He said they are, but it’s a little scary.  “Gotta have faith,” I offered.  I asked him if he was living in NYC on 9/11.  He said yes, but he lives at the opposite end of the island.  He’s originally from Maryland, and in reference to 9/11 he said New Yorkers are pretty resilient.

Some of you may recall my story of the 92 year old WWII vet whom I picked up at Kroger, and how I kept trying to get him to tell me some war stories, but all he wanted to talk about was how rude people are today.  Well I picked him up again today.  I said, “I remember you. You and your brothers were in the Pacific campaigns in WWII.”  “Yeah, that’s me,” he replied.  “I bet you saw a lot of action,” I said, hoping for a story or two.  “Saw a hell of a lot of action,” he said, proudly wearing his WWII veteran’s cap.  Then he went on to say, “People today got no manners.  Don’t say please or thank you.  I just held the elevator door for this guy who didn’t bother to say shit.  And the young ones just as soon shoot ya as look at ya.”  Well so much for my hearing any good war stories.

I let him out at a house in south Memphis which was surrounded by a chain link fence with a dog in the yard.  As I maneuvered the cab to turn to the opposite direction, I noticed he was still standing at the gate, so I pulled up and said I’d wait for him to get inside.  He told me, “Don’t gotta do that.  I got my shit with me and if anybody fucks with me I’ll blow there ass off.”  And he would too.  I mean really, after three years of fighting the ruthless Japs in some of the most contested battles of the war, the streets of Memphis probably seem quite manageable to him.  Can’t wait to pick him up again.  I’ll start with, “I always heard the battles in the Pacific were a cake walk.”

Gave a ride to a family of Muslims from Yemen.  I commented on the protests underway in that country and asked if it was a good thing.  They all nodded yes.  Took them to LeBonheur.

Later I picked up a Latino family here from Tupelo.  They were staying at the Ronald McDonald House near St. Jude where their little nephew was undergoing treatment. It was the mother, who spoke no English and her teenage son and daughter.  The son, age 14, sat up front, and I asked if he played sports. “Basketball”, he answered, “wanted to play football but my mother wouldn’t let me.”  They were headed to the Pink Palace.  The boy and I talked about football mostly.  “Do you like baseball?” he asked.  “I don’t like to watch it.  Boring,” I replied.  “Yeah, me too,” he said.  When I looked at his sister in the rearview mirror, I asked them if they were twins.  “No,” they giggled.  “Good,” I said, “because she’s much better looking than you,” I said to the boy.  They enjoyed that.  During the ride they asked how much the fare would be.  I told them I didn’t know for sure, but probably around fifteen dollars.  When we got there, I knocked a few bucks off the fare.  My best friend’s eight year old grandson died from cancer three years ago.  It kills me to see kids suffering form this.  We’re very lucky to have St. Jude, an amazing resource.

For those of you who aren’t aware of it, St. Jude never charges anyone for treatment, so if you have a few extra bucks, give them to St. Jude.  What goes around comes around.

After cruising around town for awhile, I noticed a trip available in zone 254, Sycamore View and Summer area.  I was at Ridgeway and Poplar at the time, but I put the metal to the pedal and got the trip.  The rider looked like a biker, with long, grey hair, tats, and a beard.  His daughter had his car in Montreal, and his ride never showed up, and his custom Harley was in Daytona.  He needed to make several stops, so we talked for awhile about Harleys, Sturgis, and Daytona.  He said he was in the music business, and owns a recording studio in Japan.  I told him that I had visited a friend of mine that very morning who owns a studio in midtown, and that his studio also mixes sound for movies.  My rider said he was planning to get into the movie mixing too, and asked me to give my friend his card.  So the guy has a home in Florida, an ex wife in Montreal, a studio and girlfriend in Japan, and something going on in New York, yet he has to depend on rides from friends.  MMMMM???  Oh, he‘s also the former tour manager for Van Halen.  Go figure.

My last trip of the day was a guy I picked up at Baptist Hospital on Walnut Grove Road.  He said the woman cab driver he had in the morning stopped for gas and assured him they had credit card capability.  “Did she turn off the meter when she got gas? I asked.  He said no.  “Must not have been a Yellow Cab,” I said.  “It wasn’t, and she didn’t have credit card capability,” he replied.  “Always take Yellow Cab.  We’re more ethical,” I offered.

He needed to go to his hotel, downtown, and I advised him that this was rush hour and the trip would take a little longer.

I didn’t get a good look at him when he entered the cab, but I noticed dark hair and a sport coat.  His voice and mannerisms reminded me of the actor John Heard (the corrupt detective on the Sopranos).  So all the way to downtown, I kept thinking John Heard was in my cab.

He was a real nice guy.  An airline pilot for American for 27 years, flying sometimes to Europe or South America.  I asked him if he had someone in the hospital.  He said no, that he’s working on a business deal because one can never tell when the airline might have financial problems.

“Im going to be a grandfather for the first time,” he said, and excited about it.  “You know the best thing about grandkids is that when your finished playing with them, you can send them home,” I said.
“Are you a grandfather,?” he asked.  “Hope not,” I answered.  Then told him about my daughter and how she’s very selective when it comes to men. “She doesn’t suffer fools easily,” I said.

Things got quiet, and I sensed a brooding in the back seat, so I lightened the mood with a joke:  A group of friends sends an old man friend of theirs a hooker for his eightieth birthday.  When he opened the door, the hooker said, “Want some super sex?”  He replied with, “I’ll take the soup.”

I suggested a few places to eat downtown, and when I dropped him off, he gave me a nice tip.

If you want to learn more about me got here:

See ya next time...

© 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.)

1 comment:

  1. A good taxi service always leaves a smile on their passengers. It is nice to be in such kind of a taxi company.

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