I don’t drive on Saturdays because I don’t think anyone takes a cab on that day, but this was Dead Elvis week, and I was sure there’d be a lot of business. I drove the noon to midnight shift.
As soon as I got the cab, I headed to the taxi stand across from Graceland. There were enough cabs lined up to invade a small country. I waited long enough to see two Elvis clones and several chubbie woman in their latest Walmart attire. No one wanted a cab, so I went around the corner to the Heartbreak Hotel and waited. “Come on! Don’t any of you yokels want to go downtown?,” I muttered to myself. No dice. I headed to good ol’ reliable midtown, parked and waited for a trip. And waited, and waited and waited. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. It was the most boring day yet. Eventually I got a few trips, but only two were blog-worthy.
The first was a young black guy I picked up at the hostel on South Cooper. He was from Manchester, England and spoke with a beautiful accent. This was his third trip to Memphis. “I love Memphis,” he said, “but I hate the public transportation system. Back home, buses run every ten minutes, and we have trains and trams. I’ve spent about a hundred dollars so far on cabs.” I took him to the Dead Elvis concert at the Orpheum downtown, and wished him a good time.
As I was pulling away, I heard someone shout, “Yellow!” It was a thirty-something guy with Elvis hair and side burns. He wanted me to take him to his motel but he forgot where it was. “It’s a Days Inn somewhere near Lamar,” he said. I tried to look it up on my iPhone, but he said, “Just take me to Graceland. I came downtown with a buddy, but he got so stinkin’ drunk he was embarrassin’ to be with. He tried doing a somersault on Beale Street, and cut his hand then wiped the blood on the back on my shirt. I felt like knocking the shit outta him. I wanted to go back to the room to change my shirt, but the hell with it.” I let him out across from Graceland where there was a crowd gathered under a large tent listening to a band. When he got out, I looked at his shirt, and told him I didn’t see any blood.
It was now around nine p,m., and I decided to call it quits.
I received training on how to use the handicap wheelchair vans. I thought you just roll the chair in and set its brakes. Wrong. The vans are like rolling bondage chambers. There are seven straps to secure the passenger: two connected to the floor in front of the chair with hooks you attach to the chair, two in back for the same purpose, and three straps which comprise the seatbelt. It’s like doing calisthenics every time you hook up somebody. The good thing is we can make more money driving a van, but I hate calisthenics.
On my next day shift, there were no vans available so I got a Grand Marquis.
Friday was a good day. Grossed over two hundred.
I had two airport trips. The first was a woman headed to New York for some R&R. She was a software developer on vacation. We chatted about New York, and how she loves the Gyros from the street vendors, and somehow started talking about the TV show All In The Family. I’ve become addicted to the reruns. I didn’t watch it much when it originally aired. The acting by Carol O’Conner and Jean Stapleton was and still is outstanding. Just some of their expressions alone has me reeling. It’s this and the wonderful dialog that has me wanting more. Meat head. Dingbat. Stifle.
My other airport trip was a young man I picked up at the old Greenstone apartments on Poplar near the med center. He works in IT at Hilton Corp., and was headed to Houston.
There was a notice in the office this morning alerting us to counterfeit hundred-dollar bills. The notice said, “You can identify the bills by the picture of Abraham Lincoln instead of Benjamin Franklin.” I can just hear the counterfeiters now: “Whose picture is on the hundred?, asks one. “I think it’s Washington,” says another. Then the third guy pipes in, “No you idiot. Washington’s on the thirty.”
Gave a ride to a trucker who drives back and forth on the same day to places no more than 320 miles from Memphis.
Three big fat women and a little boy got in, and they couldn’t decide where to go. “How much is to go to Walmart in Raleigh?, one asked. “Is it more than twelve dollars?” “Much more,” I said. They conferred and decided to go to Montesi’s Grocery about four blocks away.
Picked up a young black couple at Old Navy in Poplar Plaza. I had been listening to sports talk on AM, but decided to switch to music for their sake. When I went to switch from AM to FM, I inadvertently hit the CD button. Apparently, a previous driver had left a hip hop CD in, and when the music came on, the couple went nuts. “Alright,” shouted the guy, “We got us a bad cab!” They sang and jiggled all the way home, and I’m sure they thought I was a pretty hip old dude.
© 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.)