After the last time when one passenger ripped me off and was arrested, and another accused me of stealing her non-existent fifty dollar bill, I was a little reluctant to get back on the “horse.” In fact, I took a week off from driving.
It’s rare when someone rips me off, but it happens, and I hate confrontations. It’s not what I signed up for. But back behind the wheel I went.
I arrived at the cab yard around five forty-five a.m. Slim pickens. Most of the cabs on the lot were slated for repairs leaving two handicap vans, which I’m not yet certified for, and three checker cabs. I picked number 382, and went inside to tell the supervisor, and to get the daily taxi card.
I got in 382, adjusted the seat and the mirrors, set the radio stations to my favorites, and turned on the two-way radio. There was a tap on my window. It was the shop foreman, “382 is scheduled for transmission repair,” he said. Cabs due for repairs are supposed to be parked facing the wall. 382 wasn’t.
I head back to the office and noticed that 44 has just pulled in from the night shift. I picked 44, got in, adjusted the seat and mirrors, set the radio stations, got my Tom Tom out and plugged it in, turned on the two-way and the computer, and logged on. “I.D. Out Of Service,” appeared on the screen. “What the...” I muttered. Tried logging on again, and same thing.
So I head back to the office and tell the supervisor. She checks her computer: license valid, no tickets; permit up to date; physical not due until 2013. She’s new, and she couldn’t figure it out. “Maybe I made a mistake,” I said, “I’ll try again.” Same thing. At this point I’m pissed and frustrated. Another chapter in the “It’s Always Something” book of life’s little irritations.
I pack up my Tom Tom, go inside, hand her the taxi card, and say, “I’m going home.” This day wasn’t getting off to a good start. “Wait,” she says, "I’ll call So n’ So,” the veteran supervisor. So n’ So tells her what to look for on the computer. Turns out I owe forty-two bucks on my bond. SHEEESH! Couldn’t they have emailed me or called before I drove all the way down here? Why no, that would be a courtesy. Aren’t we in the courtesy business? “Mam, let me get that bag for you.“ “Can I help with your groceries?” “That’s alright, just forget the sixty cents,” (you cheap bastard).
She says I can pay at the end of my shift. So I get back in 44, which turned out to be a new car, less than 10,000 miles. Most cabs average 200,000. Drove one that had 300,000. “Sweet, a new Grand Marquis,” I thought.
For a Monday, there wasn’t much business anywhere in town, but I did get a few trips.
I picked up a woman at Walgreens in the Medical Center. She had a cane and was limping as she got in. “How are you doin”, I asked. “Oh, not so good,” she said, “I’ve got some kinda neurological disorder, and I’m allergic to the medications.” “Sorry you’re not felling well,” I offered. I took her to the Walgreens in midtown where the pharmacist had an over-the-counter drug she could use. I then took her to work. Nice size fare.
Next I went to Leath Street in north Memphis, and picked up a young woman. The young ones are who try to rip you off, so I was a little suspicious, but didn’t insist on a deposit. Took her to a Cricket store on Cleveland in midtown, and said I needed to hold onto her cell phone while I waited. When she got back in, we went to a nearby ATM machine. Good thing I didn’t ask for a deposit. Took her back home. Another good fare.
Computer signaled to go to an apartment building on North Belevedere in midtown where a young couple got in. He was wearing Elvis-style sun glasses, so we chatted about the King. He said they love his movies. Obviously a couple of erudite scholars of film.
I took them to a nondescript building on Madison. “What is this place?”, I asked. “Methadone clinic,” she replied. Later that morning I saw them walking down Union about two miles from the clinic. Must have run out of cab fare. I thought about giving them a free ride, but on second thought, I decided the walk would be god for them, gets that Methadone into their systems faster.
Gave a ride to the kitchen manager at Itta Bena restaurant above BB King’s on Beale. Itta Bena is a small town in central Mississippi, and the BB King’s birthplace. The name is derived from a Choctow phrase meaning “camp together” or “home in the woods,” and Three Stooges for “yum, yum, eat em up.” Itta Beena is the only haute cuisine restaurant on Beale, and constantly gets rave reviews. My passenger said they had ninety booked for this night. Quite a haul for a Monday.
One more to tell you about. Around three-thirty I was sent to a house on North Bellevue, and told to go to the rear. The front of the house was boarded up and displayed a no trespassing sign. As I pulled into the drive I noticed a group of guys next door just milling around.
In back, a woman stuck her head out the door and told me to come in. I asked why. She said I had to come in to sign the voucher. There was no indication on my computer that this was a voucher trip. Even more suspicious now, I told her to bring the voucher to the cab, but she refused, so I asked her, “What is this place?” She wouldn’t tell me. This was beginning to look like a horror movie with me as the victim, so I said, “Sorry, lady,” and drove off. A few minutes later I got a message that said switch to voice (the two-way radio). It was the dispatcher asking why I didn’t go in and sign the voucher. I explained my concerns, but he insisted I go back. I said, “Get someone else.” He told me if I didn’t go back he would cut me off for an hour. “Go ahead,” I said, “I’m signing off anyway.” It turned out to be a shelter for abused women.
More next time......
© 2011, 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.)