Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fish, Boomtown, and Mario

I did a bad thing yesterday. My day driver brought the cab in a couple of minutes late, and I went off on him. When I looked at the schedule, it looked like he was done at 2, he was really done at 3, and at around 2:50, I asked the dispatcher to see what he was doing. He said he was down by the stadium. I won't tell you how you'd have to drive to get it back in 10 minutes from where he was, but think in terms of low flying jet, in broad daylight. He pulled it up to the pumps, I was less than personable, and he compensated me double the going rate. At that point I proceded to tell him that him hanging around at the PSHA back in the early 80's with the in crowd didn't cut any ice. This guy is a returning driver, very experienced, a REAL cab driver, inspite of the fact that most of the people who'd known him back then have died or retired. He'd left before I started back in Oct. '88. I think I'll leave him an envelope with his 10 bucks in it and a note of apologie in it. He did however, cause me to remember something I need, and put the first chapter material into my head.

He said he'd been talking to Fish on the phone a few minutes before, and Fish said...... Fish and I don't like each other and Fish has been making noises about coming back too. I told him about my relationship with Fish, and his eyes got big, and he said, "It's you", with a look of almost astonishment. Yeah, I definately want to excuse myself, and give him his money back. What I remembered was my complete schedule, and who my day and night drivers were back then, and what the status quo was back then. Back then, my schedule was MWF - 2am to 10am, and Sat and Sun 3am to 3pm. I also had a 'real job' from 10-6 M-F, cooking in a sorority.

I'd get up at 2am on Sat and Sun, go in, and there wouldn't be a cab on the lot to drive, much less the one I was assigned to drive. None of those jerks would bring the cab in until 4am or later. It was too good to quit, too fat, they were making too much money. They were stealing that money from me, of course, because I was paying the cab rent on that cab from 3am. I'd ask the dispatcher to chase them off the road, he'd just lock the door of the dispatch office and tell me to screw myself, after all, I was a day jerk, and a rookie. What right did I have to try to take a seasoned veteran driver off the street that he needed until the bar rush was over? And people wonder why I'm, ah, the way I am. They wonder why I have enemies. If someone is ripping you off constantly, it is bound to get under your skin, it certainly got under my skin. They used to call it, 'Using and abusing rookies.' There arn't many of us around who remember how hot it would be from 2am to 4am in the pre drunk bus days, but it would be absolutely hoppin.
My relationship with Fish, was established one Sunday morning at 4am, the day after a football Saturday. Fish was a day driver, who'd get on the schedule to drive a night shift after a football game. Bull Frog does the same thing, he was out there last night. So, Fish not only brings the cab in an hour late, he then lays down in the back seat to take a little nap. I ripped the door open and said, "Get out!" He looked up at me and said something about just working a 13 hour shift, and I gave him a piece of my mind about stealing an hour of my time. He didn't like that, I didn't like it, and that set the stage for the next 20 or more years. Fish became a professional landlord around 10 years ago.

Mario and I never got into it much, he was a college age driver, and he just did what he wanted and screw anybody else. He was around when I moved to nights, so I knew the guy a little. He used to brag about spinning a cab full of passengers on fresh snow to get tips for doing donuts. The me of today would have ratted him out to the company, but I was nicer back then.

Boomtown and I had a grudge going until a couple of years ago. He didn't carry the grudge, I did. Why? There isn't a nicer guy at the company, ah, well until there's a dollar sign on something he's a nice guy. At 3:00 am when he was supposed to bring the cab in, he'd help the dispatcher. The way he'd help the dispatcher was to take a 4 way split as far out to the west side as he could get, and then of course they'd give him stuff to bring him back in to the office. Every time, he'd do this. He tried to reason with me, the dispatcher needed his help, I told him he was a common thief, and I didn't give a damn how nicey nice he was about it. One morning in frustration, he said, "You know, you could solve a lot of problems by just coming in at 5:00 am." 5:00 am.? My shift started at 3. For the last 16 - 17 years I've driven weekend night shifts along side of him, and his reward for saying that was that I would NEVER back off from a call that fit with what he was doing, ever. What changed? Fast Eddie and I used to ride to work with him, until he bent too many cabs and attributed it to difficulty seeing in the dark. How mad can you stay at somebody you ride to work with? Now he's a day jerk.

You're right, I've just let my hair down. I'm not the smiling cab driver in the picture. I'm really me.

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