Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The happiest cab

In the photo, the cab I'm sitting in is a Dodge Diplomat. It was the only new cab I was ever given. I drove the first ever shift in that cab. It was 171 if memory serves. It was the happiest cab in the fleet, and there has never been a happier cab since. How so?

I was working State st. at around 10:00 pm the night of that first shift. A couple asked me for a ride to Monona, I said sure. They got in. On the ride they were doing a bit of necking, a loving couple, all couples should love each other. I was getting off the beltline at South Towne, and the lady asked me if I minded if they had sex in the back seat.

"Lady, as long as you're willing to pay the fare, I don't care what you do."

She said to drive them somewhere, anywhere, and she'd tell me when they were done. I got back on the beltline westbound, and we started driving toward the west side and Middleton if it took that long. It would be a good fare. The guy was sitting in the middle of the seat. She took her panties off and hiked up her dress a little and let herself down on him. She told me they were finished when I got to about Parmenter, so I turned around again and headed back to Monona.

When we got to their house, they paid me and tipped generously. She kind of danced from the cab to the door of the house. The guy was sitting there with what could be described as a shit eating grin, he was a tad slow to get up and follow. It was the right way to christen the only new cab of my life, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The 5th stage of tequila

Why can I drive on State st.? This cab is the 5th stage of tequila and it's invisible.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ways to entertain a passenger

I think we all have standard jokes we tell, I certainly do. Over the years, I've discovered that passengers usually like to be entertained, good stories are always good. I've also found that stories like Fish, Boomtown, and Mario, I can't tell. The anger never leaves some stories, so if there's question in my mind, I ask for a critique from a few passengers, and if they tell me I still sound like I'm mad about it, I can't tell that story.

I have a dirtiest joke. It's too X rated for here, inspite of the fact that there is only 1 four letter word in it, and that word is only shit. The girl who told it to me as a dorm resident from Ogg hall, she told me it was the dirtiest, and she was right.

I have a most told joke. Why do they make 3 different size packages of condoms? The 3 packs are for HS students, 1 for Friday, 1 for Saturday, 1 for Sunday. The 6 packs are for college students, 2 for Friday, 2 for Saturday.... The 12 packs are for married people, 1 for January, 1 for.....

When I was recovering from the event described in the post titled Wild Ride, I had to tell the story over and over. The guy I talk to once a month, who tells me I'm not a lunatic, says that's a highly recommended therapy for a really traumatic event. I'd always claimed that no one had ever robbed me, never even tried before. Then as I told the story over and over, I came to recall that not only had someone attempted to rob me at knifepoint before, it as the third time. Further reflection caused me to recall 2 more confrontations where a knife was pulled, and all of a sudden I had 5 knife stories. I got good at telling the 5 knife stories, and people tip really well after hearing them. I have had a few people accuse me of being brave, nope, I'm a coward, I tell them courage isn't part of the equation. Courage is something I've never had. At the end of my last ride of the weekend, 2 fares had listened to the first 4 knife stories, and tips were close to $15.00 for the stories. A little secret: If I can see the knife, I say to myself, "If the guy was going to cut me, I'd already be cut, he wouldn't be showing me his knife."

Something I'd never noticed in all these years is, college kids like wise cracks. Seems kind of obvious doesn't it? Perhaps, I've simply always assumed that everyone has heard all the standard wise cracks. When the fourth girl from 1 group got in, I said, "We're off like a herd of turtles." God, they loved that and asked if I had more. I couldn't think of any off the top of my head, but given the right prompting, it's amazing what you think of to say. I had these 4 people get in at a million dollar house in The Bluff, rich people. The fat cat in the front seat constantly messed with me, all the way downtown. When I turned onto Hamilton, and the capital came in view, he seriously confided to me, "Oh, by the way, your company is paying for this ride." I'd had about enough of him all ready, and normally I wouldn't say something like this to a passenger, but I told him he was as full of bull shit as a Christmas goose. He loved it. The girls from Friday night would have loved it too. It just made it into my act.

The kid from Ann Arbor, and the psycho

Near the start of Fridays shift, I had a couple of Michigan students in the cab. I was telling them the verbose version of the retarded dwarf story when we rolled into East Towne and loaded a black woman who works for the mall. I continuted the story a little, and of course the black woman hadn't heard the prelude, I was describing the stench, and she got real animated in her commentary, things like I ought to toss someone out who even farts in the cab. It was hysterical, the 3 of us laughed and laughed until she got to where she was going and got out.

I decided that I was going to try and make as many people laugh as I could. Most of the passengers anyhow. Fast Eddie once cautioned me about making people laugh too much, he once got somebody laughing so hard she crapped her pants. Just before they got out, the guy said, perhaps he should write a book out of my material here. I kind of wondered about that, and I'd thought of it before that. I asked him what his major was, English he said.

Around 10 pm., I had a well dressed young woman going to the Memorial Union, she said she was going to a dance for senior med and law students. Really? I asked if she was going to chase ambulences or staff them. Chase. Really? Tell me, how would it work if someone else wrote a book out of my material? She said it's my intelectual property. Cool beans!

Unfortunately, every squirrill in the midwest was running around down town over the weekend too. What do squirrills do? The mild stuff is, a couple of guys will come up to a cab while you're loading 4 girls, and try to sit on the girls laps who are in the window seats. Or some grinning jack ass will come up to the cab while I'm loading people on State street and order order me to get out of the cab, so he can get in and drive it, then he hangs his chin on the window and won't move.

The prize jack ass of Saturday night was the guy who was calling me a nazi because I wouldn't let the whole party of 8 pile into the cab. The second time I heard nazi, I pulled over and told them to get out, we'd only gone about a block. The woman in the front seat tried to talk me out of it. One thing I've learned by hard experience over the years is, once you tell someone to get out, they get out. NO second chances. When she finally got out, the guy with the mouth came over and tried to shatter the window by slamming the door as hard as was physically possible. I started to get out of the cab, and he went even further psycho describing in great detail how he was going to break me into little pieces. There are times when it's seriously tempting to carry a cattle prod. Imagine having that guy sitting behind you for 10 minutes. Shortly after that, a passenger told me that all the cops and ambulence in the middle of that block were for someone who had been randomly attacked as he exited a bar. Some psycho total stranger had wound up and hit the guy in the face and run off. I wonder if it was the same guy.

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.