Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

In 30 minutes I will take off for work. I wish every night of the year could be as good as New Years Eve. It's like shooting fish in a barrel as they say. The essence of making money in a cab is to keep it full. Tonight mine will be full for 12 hours straight, and only if I take a break to eat or something like that, will it not be full.

I've written 2 chapters of the book now. I sent both of them to a friend in Canada named Laurie. She claims the first one is a good read. I submitted an excerpt from the second chapter to a first page contest at a web site called webook, I'll let you all know how it turns out, I think I just flushed 10 bucks but who knows.... They say they guarantee that an agent will read it. Agents are out to make a buck. I was VERY careful to make it a good read, and Laurie has said that many of my adventures are good stories.

I chose the first New Years story, for those of you who haven't read that post, that would have been 3:15 am, 1/1/89. Imagine 12 guys in tuxedos rolling around in the snow fighting, in the middle of the street, in front of a serious dive of a bar. What's that Italian guy's name, Felini? I've always said driving New Years Eve in Party City is a lot like watching a Felini movie.

Anybody who wants to review what I'm at this point calling Chapter 2, if you leave me an email, I'll send you a copy. I ask the following in return. Give me an HONEST critical opinion. If you like it cool, but even if you do, please, please, please, help me make it something that will hook a publisher. If you think it's merde (thats french for shit, excuse my french, get it?), tell me it's merde, and if you're really kind tell me what's wrong with it.

When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me I should write books. I knew even then that she didn't like me, and it pretty much took her death last year to actually prove it beyond any doubt, but I knew it back then. If she told me I should write a book, to me it meant I would be terrible at it. But she was judging what was coming out of my mouth. She was listening to the story.

An actor who got a fairly long ride the other day was a real good audience, and liked some of my stories. He said it was all about the story. How true is that? Well, I was told in Comparative Literature that there are only 7 (if memory serves) fundamental stories. The most recent is the sidekick template, and all the sidekick stories are knockoffs of the same template.

That makes Car 54 Where Are You, and The Hobbit variants of the same story, right? What makes the story then, is how it's told. Life is strange, the world is strange, and maybe I do have chance. Maybe my mother was telling the truth, which she actually did on rare occasions. For the record my mother loved my brother, was indifferent about my sister, and seriously didn't care about me. Anybody wants to know, I'll share the reasoning behind all that. I've compared notes with my dad's older sister, and it's how it is (was, my mom and dad are both dead).

10 minutes to get dressed, let the dog out, feed the dog, and hit the road. Wish me luck. I'm excited. New Years Eve is a blast to drive a cab.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

You've got to see this picture

It's the picture of the little boy and little girl. When you finish laughing, and I'll tell you about a car accident or 2.

I've been in enough accidents in cabs that I don't recall them all, I'm sure. 21 years is a long time. They teach you things about people and driving, so perhaps if I tell you, you can learn without an insurance claim. First off, convince yourself that there are people out there who will get in an accident intentionally. The last one I was in, the pavement was slippery, traffic was heavy, and this woman in this ratty Volvo station wagon passed me in the right lane zipped in front of me and with turn signal on slammed on the brakes. She claimed she needed to go to the bank. Bull! When the cops were done she didn't go into the bank AND she had a court track record for suing people like insurance companies. She wouldn't dream of doing that to another car like hers.

Black ice will do the job real nicely too, you need to watch for it. What is black ice? After a big snow fall like we had a few weeks ago, there are big snow piles all over the place. On a nice warm winter day with sunshine and upper 30's, some of that will melt, and that pool of water will be smooth, invisible ice within an hour of sunset. I was sitting at a stop sign at the corner of Index and Stewart, and bam. Guy lived close by, no ice there when he went home for lunch, and he in general drove too fast and aggressively. Moral of story, YOU Babba, you must watch for it because he won't, and don't stop where he can hit you. 3 accidents/tickets in 3 years and you're gone these days.

Bottom of hill in any kind of storm but especially in snow. I was waiting for a passenger to come out of this apartment building on Park st., and I saw this car start coming down the hill in my lane. Why isn't he changing lanes to go around me I wondered. NOW I mentally watch for 2 seconds and start accelerating away, go around the block, and come back. I watched in my rear view mirror as he kept coming down the hill. He couldn't be wanting to plow right into me, could he? Complete moron, an engineering graduate student from Taiwan, he'd never driven on a slippery surface before, locked up the brakes at the top of the hill, and slid all the way down the hill and plowed into me. The black lady in the back seat said, "I think I hurt my elbow. No it's my shoulder........." I cut her off right there and said, "Merry Christmas ma'am, Merry Christmas."

I've had more than one person hit me head on while they were looking over their shoulder. I thought this one ass hole in Middleton, on Parmenter st., was going to drag me out the window and start pounding on me. He hit me in the northbound lane while traveling southbound, and he's mad at me? Boy was I glad to see the cops show up. That cab was totaled too.

And an accident that wanted to happen but didn't last week was this complete idiot who stopped on the beltline. In a perfict world it would be acceptable to chase the guy down and strangle him. It's slippery, real slippery in spots, and he's coming at a tight circle ramp way to fast so I decide to let him zoom by, but I want off there too, so I put on my turn signal. So he slows down right on my rear bumper. I slow down, he slows down, we got to walking speed and I'm looking at a car coming on fast, as in 50 mph in my lane so I floor it and pull over on the left side of the ramp. Well, now Mr. Polite goes past me. What's his plan? Oh, he's just being a safe driver, and being polite, and he'll kill somebody doing it someday.

I had a couple of black kids in the cab and a metro and I was waiting for to make a left turn at First and Wash (washington), and you know how people will floor it to run the very last of the yellow light? Well, I started to make my left turn, looked at a fool coming the other way doing just that and decided to let him come and I'd wait for one more light. Unfortunately the guy in the car behind me had to tap me just then. Awwwww, SHIT!!!! With a metro in, I've got to get the cops, no choice. Now with this 3 in 3 years business, I'd chance going on and letting everybody forget it. The 2 black kids in the back seat were acting real nervous for about 10 minutes, then all of a sudden that changed. The one kid started shouting, "My arm hurts! When do I get paid?!" What changed was they decided to hide the dope they were transporting under the seat, and walk away from $50, and go for the big pay out, and when they figgured out how to get it off their person, that's what they did. The cops did shake them down too. If it ever happens again, you can be sure the cops will shake down the back seat too. I remember the cop too, her name was Gail Holmes. She was amazed that I was so calm and composed. The previous time we met, I'd been attacked, was bleeding, and wanted her to arrest the guy who blindsided me, on a moving job I was running.

The final accident I'll mention was one of those rescue the passengers deals. When a cab dies for what ever reason, the driver is supposed to tell the dispatcher, who will put it on the board as a call. It was back when I first started driving, a Sunday if memory serves. There was a new guy out there, like it was his first or second weekend, a part time guy. He was zooming around downtown way too fast, and he'd beaten me for a couple of calls by doing 60 on West Washington, which is around 30 over. The lady who'd been in his cab when he wreaked it said he'd been brake torquing at a light, and when the light changed he let it rip. Unfortunately for everyone else involved, someone was making a late left turn on a yellow light and had not cleared the intersection yet. She said he plowed into that car with the accelerator on the floor.

Monday, December 28, 2009

When it rains it pours.....

Last night I super sized my shift. What's that? I went in to work a 2p-10p, and actually worked a 2p-2a. As soon as 10:00 came around it got weird.

There was a Hilldale to Yuma on the board, I called for it and got it. I went over to the GDHD (Great Dane Hilldale) and started waiting for the passenger to come out. The Great Dane is a gin joint with pretty good food, and nice pool tables. A city bus came through and this black kid, about 20, got out and walked over to the cab and got in the front seat. Take me to Yuma he said. I told him he should call for a cab from where he actually is, not from somewhere else. He said he got there pretty quick, and he used the cell phone on the bus. The cell phone on the bus? I didn't say anything, but I wasn't liking the sound of any of this. Public bus's don't have cell phone service for the passengers. So I told him that since he wasn't where he called for the cab from when he called I was going to need cash up front for the ride. Where on Yuma, I asked, because Yuma has address's in 2 different zones.

He said it should only be 1 zone, meaning it should be the minimum charge for getting in the cab, which the book would say is no zones. I said it was more than that, opened the book and asked what address on Yuma. He said 9 Yuma. Bad address, Yuma has address's in the 3000's and 4000's. Well, just take me to Yuma he said. I told him I couldn't help him and asked him to get out of the cab. He wanted to know why? He said he'd show me the money. I told him I didn't care, I couldn't help him and he needed to get out of the cab.

Like many people, he was of the opinion that he could fuck anything he could catch. They changed that law years ago. The notion that you can open a car door, sit down, and start ordering someone around is common enough, but I've seen a thousand of him and it just isn't going to fly. He wanted to know why I wouldn't take him.

"Well sir, you don't know where you want to go. You weren't where you called for the cab from. And you want to argue over how much the fare will be. I can kick you out of the cab for any of the 3 reasons. Now, I can't help you, please get out of the cab."

He tried the most common ploy, argue until the driver gives up and refuse to get out. No way. Giving up on a guy like him can get you killed, I told him that if he wouldn't get out of the cab I'd get the cops to help him get out, and I would too. Over and over he wanted to know why? Finally I told him. "The last 2 guys who tried to rob me with a knife were just like you, they wouldn't tell me where they wanted to go, now get out of my cab!"

Now we started with the crap that I was painting him with those to guys, and blah blah blah. He as a black man was indignant. Yeah, the fucking race thing always gets called into play. He finally got out, and said he'd get me fired. How many times have I heard that. He did call the company back, and did complain, and they did not send him another cab. If you want to get refused service, just try refusing to tell the driver where you want to go, or giving him a bad address, works like a charm every time, or should work every time anyhow.

Then, an hour later I get a couple of calls going from downtown to Park and the belt, and Midvale and the belt. I get to Park and the belt, start making change for the guy, and the other passenger is barfing out the door. So I tell him I'll give him a break since he only got a tiny splash on the door and a little in the pocket where people put their hand to pull the door closed. He could pay me for the ride to that point and good bye good luck. He was pretty sincere and begged for a break, said he didn't know where he was, which was true, and it was cold. He held out a hand full of cash, said it was all he had on him and could I please help him. Awwwww, fuck it...... But if you barf again in my cab it's Detox for you and that's a nightmare, understand? I gave him some napkins out of the glove box and told him to clean it up. He made it to Hammersly and Midvale without incident, thanked me, and vanished into a red brick 8 unit.

I told Eric over the radio that when it rains it pours, and he asked why I super sized. I told him that none of that kind of thing is predictable, and if I could predict it I wouldn't have super sized. Who would? He agreed, and the next 3 hours went pretty well.

The thespian and barrista

Ah, he was a great audience. He came up to me at the airport as I was about to take off with another fare and he also wanted to also get in. A split from the air to Monona and Hilldale? Oooo, delightful!!! It was south Midvale, so it worked. It was a GREAT run, I had a few long fitters, just fantastic!!! Anyhow, the guy, the story..........

The guy tells me he's an actor, and he hustles coffee for a living at a coffee house. So we talk about stories, and he tells me that acting is story telling. So I tell him the story of the 5 knife stories, and start telling them. He's a great audience!!

What's really most great about this fellow is he tells me that some of my stories might make good monologues for auditions. He's right, they would, and I never knew about this use of monologues before. The Somebody did a Doogie in This Cab story has 3 distinct voices in it, in a certain way it would be perfect.

So I will be looking to publish in small story form a few of the tales in the blog. Thank you sir!!!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cute things to say

Just for joke, I think I tell you some of the cutsie things that they say in cab driving, and I'll toss in a couple I also like just because I like them.

When amusing passengers, nothing is guaranteed to amuse them like cute things to say. I had this Russian guy and his wife laughing all the way to Hilldale on Christmas, sharing all the ways to pick a fight I could think of and I didn't even go through all of them. So without further ado, (drum roll....), here goes.

Your parents were brothers. My dog got fleas when he fucked your mother. You smell like your mothers cunt (in Capetown, in Afrikans this is guaranteed to work). Your mother has a bald pussy (in Vietnamese, in Siagon, to a Vietnamese this is guaranteed to do it). And finally last but not least: Vas tu faire, en cullier! Which will do the job in Paris. I know the Afrikans but you wouldn't understand it, I don't know the Vietnamese, but I learned it from a guy we called Spike years ago and have since forgotten it, and the French.... well, those of you who speak French will recognize that we also say that in English, so in English it's garden grade.

The cab driving cleaver things to say, or a few of them anyhow would be: Remember to wave with all 5 fingers. It's the only job in the world where you can come to work hungry, horny, broke, and sober, and within an hour have all your problems solved. Your job stinks, your love life stinks, the guy in the cab next to you stinks, and it don't get no better than this.

And of course I should mention the 3 states of being, you should be able to figure these out. Dark side of moon, Via satellite, and Painfully in person. Oh, yeah, and as previously mentioned in this blog, I can drive on State st., because my cab is the 5th stage of tequila and it's invisible.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas the night before Christmas

And I sure don't like the idea of going out and shoveling slush, but I have to do it. It's 34, light rain, and I played it perfect I think. It's going to be warm for 2 days, warm enough that if I clear the pavement now, I won't have a sheet of ice to contend with.

The birds and squirrels have been fighting over the food on the deck since I put it out a couple of hours ago. I sure do love them. They are the best part of this drafty old dump. When I was a kid my grandmother loved this yellow shafted flicker that came to our yard at the cottage up north, I hadn't seen one since until I got a regular coming to the deck, he likes corn.

As usual, I have no family to spend holidays with, but that's ok, my family was kind of dysfunctional anyhow. If the weather was better I'd go down to the cab company, but I think minimizing driving about now is the prudent course of action.

I had a passenger in my cab who was kind of interesting, said she has a PhD in Education? Over qualified to ever get a job now. Drag. If the first chapter I just finished doesn't fly with an agent, perhaps I'll ask her to help me polish it enough so it does fly.

Friend of mine in Canada (ooooooo there's the most beautiful cardinal perching in the big pine tree, he's getting ready to swoop down for his meal, he's much shyer than the jays, Mrs cardinal is on the seed bell, they came together............... such beauty) has a copy of the proposed first chapter, I'm anxiously awaiting her opinion. She seemed to be interested in the blog. We were at the online bridge club and she stopped playing bridge to read it. Clearly some of the entrys are better than others.

I predict that the winter cab season will be a good one. All this snow is going to make it a brutal winter. Driving in the snow is much more work than warmer weather, there are so many details that get added. For instance, all those snow piles in the middle of the street, you can't see through them, nor can the other guy. Every time it's warm and sunny, the minute the sun sets you have black ice everywhere. But those nasty sidewalks are hard on the girls wearing 3" heels, so they take a cab. Ever try to walk in 3" heels? It's a trip.

Dog just had to get out to tree a squirril, first time I've ever seen him chase one. Woodchucks are his specialty, he lives for hunting woodchucks. The yard woodchuck is snuggled safely in his burrow for the winter, sleeping until spring.

We finally got the credit card machine activated. It does a bunch more stuff, and it's not real good yet at that other stuff. Every time you cross a zone line it beeps, the display lights up, and it shows the new zone, only it gets some places wrong. It's going to take a while. From the looks of it, eventually, we will be a metered zone cab.

Merry Christmas Fast Eddie, Jeff & Christopher, the King and Gene in NYC, the girl at Ian's, and Laurie in NB. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The right stuff

Passengers some times ask what it takes to get into my blog. The ones who really want to get in never do. Last night I had not 1 but 2 who are getting in. They are examples of the extremes you run into in a space of less than an hour.

I went to the Rustic to get a guy going to a bar on Winnebago st. Guy was super drunk. Every other sentence he said he was all pissed off. He had a bag with him, said it was the Christmas presents his regular customers gave him. Turns out he was one of the bar tenders at the bar he was going to. Said he'd forgotten to take his fanny pack with him when he left the bar and went to the Rustic (a bar close to his house), and in the fanny pack was his inhaler and a bunch of other stuff he needed. He's one of those people who should never let anyone else see him drunk, rather disgusting I'd say, and I see A LOT of drunks.

The other extreme was this real nice girl who works at Ian's on State st. We got on the subject of pizza shops and pizza delivery, and I gave her some of the history of the business. She thought this trivia was super cool and said she intended to tell her pizza co-workers about the trivia and me. Wow, I'm flattered. So, since she said she'd read me, I'll post some of that trivia here, and some of the stuff I perhaps left out.

Here goes, the pizza trivia. Back in my younger days I delivered a lot of pizza. Decent jobs were impossible to get in the Detroit area. The story of my life, it would seem, is I've lived in places where there are no jobs. Most people don't know that pizza was the first food ever delivered, and it was first delivered in Ypsilanti, Michigan to the campus area close to Eastern Michigan University. Domino's store number 1 is the Cross st. store in Ypsilanti. The east side of Ypsilanti is store number 2 and the guy who owned it's name was John. Store 3 was the west side of Ann Arbor, and for some reason I never delivered a pie out of store number 3. That store was a really well run store and they never desperately called all the other stores begging for a driver to borrow for the night. Store #4 is the U of M central campus, and was on South University, it had the coolest oven I've ever seen. Store #5 was the east side of Ann Arbor, I managed that store for a while, big mistake, the owner was a big hillbilly named Dean who is a complete loser. Store #6 is U of M north campus and north side of town. Back in those days, a 16" plain cost $1.70.

She said a 20" pepperoni at Ian's is $9.00 these days, which sounds like a real bargain. I have some weird pizza delivery stories, I don't remember the nice stories, there must have been some. It was a long time ago however. One that I will always remember is the 3 cops who ordered a pizza. One of the drivers took the call and they refused to give their phone number, so when fuck up (we called Gene who was making pizza's fuck up) got to that slip he crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash. When they didn't get their pizza they called and Gene told them no phone number, no pizza, so the lady said something like, "Ok dingbat, here's the phone number", and fuck up hung up on them. So they started calling back, and calling back, and calling back, and every time Gene would pick up the phone and hang up on them. I walked into the store and answered the phone and the lady started screaming at me, so I told her to calm down and tell me what happened. Fuck up told me he would not make a pie for them so I made it my self and took it down to their house, it was a house on easy st.

When I knocked on the door it opened and this woman with a shoulder holster with a huge gun in it opened the door and grabbed me by the front of the shirt and dragged me into the house. In the living room there were 2 more guys, so 3 people total, all wearing a bunch of guns, 5 guns total if memory serves, and dressed like they were in the Soprano's and were going to a funeral. Way over dressed for an evening at home and armed to the teeth! One of the guys snarled, "Do you know who I am?" And I said, "I don't care who you are, you can be anybody you want." What are you supposed to say to some big ass hole with a gun anyway? So he says, "My name is Under Sheriff Owings! Now what's this shit about you wouldn't bring us a pizza?" Nice guy, I take the lady's shit on the phone, bring them the pie, and now I'm supposed to be scared shitless of the guy.

The way scared shitless works for me is if you suprise me I won't be scared right then, I'll be scared after it's over. Right then I will be at a loss for words, but I usually don't satisfy people with being terrified. It turns out that if you're really in great danger, you rarely have the luxury of being able to shit your pants right then, you just have to hold it for later.

I stammered out that I was the person who'd actually took the order and made the pizza and he shouldn't be mad at me, he should be mad at fuck up. So they thanked me, like nothing had happened, gave a little better than average tip, and told me I could leave. That address became another on my list of places I wouldn't deliver to, and luckilly they didn't order more pizzas because I would have told the big hillbilly who owned the store do go down there and deliver it himself, and he would have canned me.

Something else she'll probably think is neat, is the history of keeping a pizza hot while taking it to the customer. Back in the day, we drove company cars, and used hot box's that were first kept warm with a little propane heater. The trouble with this was that you'd open the door and the wind would snuff the burner, then 20 minutes later with the car doors shut, windows rolled up, cause it was cold outside, you'd light a cigarette, and the accumulated propane in the hotbox would blow the door off the car. This wasn't real great for the driver either, but they mostly cared about the damage it did to the car. So most stores started using these little cans of jellied alcohol, but one store started using blankets, that was store number 6. One if the guys who worked there was an engineering student named Dick who only worked on Sunday nights when I first met him. Dick ended up with the franchise for Pittsfield Township, the area between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, which it is my understanding he swapped Domino's for the franchise rights to Columbus, Ohio. If he owns all the stores in Columbus, Ohio, he must be filthy rich these days. My guess is he also holds a basic patent for the zipper hot bags that many stores use today to keep pies warm.

There was a burnout who worked for store 6 named Bill Rue, who'd given up on an engineering degree, to be a 6 day a week pizza man. What a waste. Bill had been robbed 3 times when I met him. For some reason, I never got robbed, and to this day have never been robbed, though people have tried a few times. Becky Belknap told me Bill was murdered making a night deposit in Columbus, Ohio. Dick took him with him to open his first store.

Another memory, the first guy I ever fired was Tim Heller, a guy I'd known since 7th grade. In a snow storm he took the company red white and blue Domino's Javelin and ran over the stop sign 60 feet from the store and pulled the car right up in front. The ONLY tire tracks. He thought it was funny. Looking back on it I should have called the cops and let them handle it.

There was a bar next store to the Packard store, I'm told Tuck Banfield own's it now, back then it was The Fireside Lounge. There are a couple of noteworthy drunk stories, who got 86'd from there. One was a guy who was surrounded by 6 cops when I pulled up to the store. The owners son Warren was outside watching, he was 12 at the time. The cops prodded the guy until he made a mistake that they used as provication pound the crap out of him. I tried real hard to get Warren into the store before he saw all this, I recall saying, "Come on Warren, you don't need to see this", and pushing him into the door. They made a deliberate effort to seperate both of the drunk man's shoulders, I used to wrestle and I know just how to do it. After they'd beaten him unconscious they tossed him in the squad and 4 of them left. The other 2 came in the store for the 2 pies they'd ordered, which we never charged them for. I asked the cop what happened and he said, "That guy tried to hit me and", and I stopped him in midsentence.

I said, "You know, I saw you hit him, but I never saw him hit you."

He replied that he wasn't going to let the guy hit him either. So I asked what they were going to do with him, and he said they'd probably let him go after he slept it off. I probably saved that guy's ass. I handed the cop the pies, said no charge and life went on.

Another drunk I tried to spare Warren from dealing with was a guy who'd gotten kicked out and came in the employee's entrance and demanded to buy a burned pie for a buck. We didn't have a burned pie just then. I was moving him out but when we got to the door he grabbed my shirt and started shaking me back and forth while giving me the raspberries. I looked in at the man in charge, a fellow we called Fat Dan, and he was holding up a fist and making a jesture that I should slug the guy. When he let go of me I gave him a single uppercut right to the jaw. He rose up on tiptoes, turned about 180 degrees and fell in the snow. I looked at him for a moment and said to myself, if I let him get up I'll just have to hit him again, so I jumped on him and put him in a wrestling hold called a guillatine, which had him facing the stars unable to move either arm or his legs and I had my free hand in a fist right in front of his nose. I told him if he didn't get up and leave he was going to get hurt, and got my most important lesson in drunks of my entire life.

His reply was classic, he said, "Why am I going to get hurt? I'm going to kick your ass."

I could have caved his face in right then and there, and he wanted to know why? Well, that's what drunk men ALWAYS say, they're complete idiots. It took about 10 seconds to decide that if he needed it explained to him, I couldn't explain it. So I said I didn't want anybody to accuse me of taking advantage of a drunk and he should come back the next day when he was sober and kick my ass. I told him to ask for Morris Dean Jenkins. I would be off the following day, he would be asking for Warrens dad, the big hill billy. It worked, he left. The other drivers were amazed that I'd let him go and not put him in the hospital. What they didn't understand is that it is impossible for me to hit someone in anger, they trained that out of me in a gym when they were training me to be a complete heart attack.

A couple of other names that come to me, Mary Traumatine and Marty Brooks. I hope both of you have lived fine lives my friends, and I wish I still saw you frequently. Marty gave me my first ever doobie, Mary always wanted to ride around in the delivery car and I'm sure she wanted to do............ She was a nice kid, she didn't do it with me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hookers and dancers

I often tell people that when I get off work the only people out are the cab drivers, cops, and the people your parents told you to stay away from when you were a kid. Only some of those people your parents told you to avoid are actually pretty nice.

At the moment, we have 2 dancers, and one prostitute who are regular customers. Dancers? Yeah, as in exotic dancers, strippers. All 3 of these ladies are pretty nice.

The first of the 3 that I met is a college student who dances. She's nice looking, around 22, and nice to talk to. I kind of wonder if people will look at her weird because she was a dancer after she graduates. I really hope she is able to get what we refer to as a real job, and doesn't wind up dancing after she graduates. I never intended to drive a cab for over 20 years, yet here I am, and I want to do it until I'm too old to drive, yeah I really really hope she gets herself a real job.

The second of the 3 is the other dancer. She lives out on the north side, is 30ish, and smokes. Of the 3 she tips the least, though they all tip well. She's slim. I'll bet she puts on a good show. She can and will tell you about the business of stripping, so she can be quite informative. For instance, I never realized that the up north girls come down to Madison a few nights a year to basically horn in on the local girls money. I did know that the bars up north get extra talent in for deer season, but it never occurred to me that the girls who work in those bars simply get ripped off for those sets that ought to belong to them. You'd think that they'd look forward to deer season, but they probably don't because instead of making extra money as you'd think, they probably make less. Summer time works like that for us, you'd think we could make more money because the roads are good, but summer is a good time to find something else to do besides drive a cab. Hopefully I have my summer in 2010 set up to do other work, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that nothing screws up.

The prostitute I met just recently. I've heard her ride go out a number of times and because of where she lives it's a hard ride to move. I made a point of talking to a couple of the dispatchers about it, and I think they'll move her rides easier from now on. She usually tips an amount about equal to the fare. Very gregarious, terribly attractive, I'm sure she makes pretty good money. I always wondered about the place she works, it's been there for over 25 years. I always figured that if you went there you'd have to be a regular customer, someone they pretty well knew, if you were going to get some. Not so, she says. She described the screening process that they use to avoid servicing cops, and she says that they certainly come in the place and try to get some. So, now when guys ask me to take them to a cat house, instead of saying none exist, I'll take them there. I'll have to tell them that they can't get any there and wink or something, but I'm sure it'll come to me when it comes up.

I like all 3, great regular customers.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Younger

Fast Eddie's little brother used to drive, we called him Junior. Dispatcher would be saying you're where Junior? Where now Senior? Junior? And give out the call.

Until about a week ago, we had 2 guys with the exact same name, and they got called Elder and Younger. The Elder is one of my favorite people, has been for a while. He's obnoxious as all get out, but that's part of his charm. How did he come to drive a Badger cab? He had (had?/has?) a little rage issue, and it's said the ticket was for 120 in a 55, but it's only hearsay, no one will confirm it, he was in a yellow cab when he did it.

The Younger was still in intensive care on Monday, probably still is. He finished a dispatching shift on Friday night, got on his bike, and started riding home. At around midnight, I gave up on getting a fare out to the east side to get fuel. Like it or not, I'd have to go out there empty. I headed out the Jennifer st. bus route, but when I got to Rodgers and Rutledge the whole block was closed off to Thornton, so I had to go around. I got to the other corner, and before I turned back on Rutledge to go over the bridge I saw a bike lying on the street near the 2nd driveway easement. Ah, that's it, some drunk sneaking through the neighborhoods clipped a bike, and sure enough there was a crime investigation vehicle pulling up just then. Off to the office I went, got my fuel, went inside and told Bam Bam that the cops were investigating a bike getting clipped at Rutledge and the river. It would be about 20-30 minutes before the cops informed the office it was The Younger.

When I checked in I told Bam Bam that I figgured The Younger would get his drivers license lifted on medical grounds for 6 months. Bam Bam said no way, wanna bet? We ended up betting 25 bucks on it. Given that The Younger had brain surgery this week, I expect to win the bet. For some reason, nobody has started passing the hat for him yet. I'll donate that 25 bucks to The Younger Christmas fund, and if I have to get the card to start it, I'll buy that too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The pool players

When Bobby trained me, he spoke of the ball players. Back then, there was a soft ball team. I was never invited to play on that team, in spite of the fact that I was a day driver and a pretty good player back then. He told me that the ball players favored each other, which amounted to cheating. If they'd been favoring him, it would have been ok, of course.

Bobby was in a click of his own of course. He in 2 clicks. He was a pool player and one of the PSHA crowd. If you wanted to be really picky, you could argue there were 2 pool playing clicks, the Wilson's crowd, and the Que-Nique crowd. There is no Dick and Dave's crowd, all the cab drivers in town who drink in a bar, frequent the green and white awning from time to time. In all fairness to Bobby, he was one of the best dispatchers who ever sat behind the mike and nobody ever accused him of not being absolutely fair.

I was probably never asked to be a ball player because the fat man in the office was one of the central ball players was the fat man in the office was one of the central figgures in the management of the team. He didn't like me then, doesn't like me now, and having a winning team was never as important as the drinking and dope smoking comradery after the game.

If I were to rank the pool players in terms of skill, I'd have to put Crawdaddy and Tony V. at the top of the list. Bobby used to be up there, but I don't think he plays anymore. It makes me wonder what happened to Tony V., he hasn't been around for a while. Where do I rank? I usually tell people I don't play. When people lose to me, I hear a lot of, 'well, I don't play 8 ball, or I don't play 9 ball, or I don't practice trick shots, or.....' This isn't a problem since I almost never play. I don't know where I rank, I'm not as good as Bob or Tony.

The Hog fancied himself a pool player. He hung out in the pool hall a lot. I guess he was a player, just not a good one. Dickdro plays a lot, or did, he reminds me of myself as a chess player. He got about so good, and never improved from that point, which isn't all that good.

Pool and cab drivers have definately made Wilson a lot of money. His place is fun, you see all the other drivers who drink, and his tournaments must be fun they're well attended.

The Pinkney Street Hide Away (PSHA) got the wreaking ball many years ago. Delmonico's is there now. When I first moved to Madison I used to go in there and drink. I never noticed the cab drivers who hung out there. There was defiantly an in crowd who knew each other, I wasn't part of it. Powers was another PSHA type. He was quite a character, big, strong silent type, one day he went in to the VA hospital complaining of a headache, and he was dead within 36 hours.

I'm sure that in any city, if there are cab drivers, a bunch of them will play pool.

Monday, November 9, 2009

People from the past

I ran into a few people from the past over the weekend.

To the best of my knowledge Butch and I are the only 2 drivers who have really escaped robbers. They say that Useless One escaped, but he did he? The bad guys got his cell phone which they used to call a cab from a different company, and they put the driver from that company in the hospital.

Many years ago, there was a string of robberies which happened about once a month. It was always the same story. 3 guys, black, about 18 years old, a dark one who looked about like so, and a light one who looked about like so. I figured it was a gang initiation, but the company was always very adamant that I was wrong. That makes me believe I was right, of course. The way it always went down was the guy sitting behind the driver would throw something over the drivers head, draw it tight around their neck so they were strangling, and the other 2 would pound the crap out of the driver. After the driver was beaten up pretty bad, they'd ask for the money. No opportunity was given to simply give up the money.

When these guys tried to rob Butch, he won the fight. He laughed about it, and would say, "They was just flappin", to describe the fight. Butch must have had a bit of practice, when they try that on someone with no experience, the element of surprise is probably enough to win, all by itself.

Back in those days, another driver was said to have won, but that kind of depends on what you call winning. When they started beating the crap out of him his foot came off the brake peddle. His cab was in reverse and he was on a grade that went down to his rear, so the cab took off backward and wasn't going real fast, but was gaining speed. One or more of the kids pounding on him decided to exit the cab before the cab wreaked and didn't quite make it, his arm got pinned between the open cab door and a tree, so he got caught, and hurt pretty bad.

The white chick Butch was with was pretty skanky. He didn't remember me. He's been gone from our company for close to 20 years, and out of the cab business for around 5. Almost no one remembered him.

I had Mona and Stella in the cab. Mona has been Mona since before I started driving. She's never been all there, but age hasn't been kind to her. I really wondered why someone would take a ride a single block on Williamson st. When she got in the cab, I greeted her by her name and asked where she wanted to go, she gave an address a block and a half up the street. When she got out, I saw why she took the ride. The skirt she was wearing was mostly gone in the back all the way up to the waste band, which revealed the diaper she was wearing. At least the seat was in the same condition when she got out as it was when she got in, whew!

Stella was at the grocery store on Broadway. I guess most of the drivers know that ride and won't take her. She's also been riding since before I started driving and she always talks non stop a mile a minute the whole way. Most of what she says is a complaint, one after another, and she's always got 3 complaints about the driver before you even get the cab in gear. Her groceries MUST be in the back seat. Bull shit, groceries go in the trunk, but all the other drivers....... All the other drivers don't know who you are Stella, and don't know that it won't shut you up, and since you won't shut up, why should you get special treatment? Answer: You should never get special treatment. But once in a while I will take her because I need the good will it generates with the dispatcher.

I took The Cookie Lady to the same grocery, she'd gotten out of a week in the hospital. She too, figured she'd gotten crappy service. I started work at 3 and she was bitching that she'd called for a cab at 2. I drove out there from downtown to do that ride too, again to make points with the dispatcher. Ah, let no good deed go unpunished, right?

And finally, drum roll perhaps, the final ride of the weekend I did was positively creepy. A couple of guys, 25 - 35 years old perhaps, got in to take a ride to a small club to hear the metal band playing there. When the subject of smoking came up, the guy on the passenger side commented that he'd quit smoking once for 2 years, but started up again. The guy sitting behind me commented, "Yeah, but that was when you were in prison."

"You were in prison for 2 years? What did you do, if you don't mind my asking", I asked.

"Robbed a bank. Actually robbed a few banks", he replied.


I asked him a little about it. He said that the papers in the community where he was at the time gave him a nick name.

Then the guy behind me commented that they had a buddy who'd killed a cab driver. Really!? Here in Wisconsin? He said yeah, here in Wisconsin, and went on to say the guy would get out of prison in 4 more years. If he killed the cab driver around 20 years ago, the guy he killed was my best friend. The guy said that his friend was 16 when he killed the cab driver, so sure enough, their good friend Peter had killed Jim Bob. It was awkward to say the very least. They said nice things about their friend, and I said to not worry about it, it was a long time ago. What a blast from the past.........

Monday, November 2, 2009


I haven't seen the guy for years. He was a dispatching groupie. Like most groupies he had a favorite. His favorite was Piggie. Piggie named him Lucky, short for Lucky Pierre.

Unfortunately for Lucky, he didn't have enough suck with the office to get a job IN the office when he lost his drivers license. I could be wrong, but I believe the number one reason the dispatchers in the office became dispatchers was loss of drivers license. It's usually bad luck, but when you drive more than 1,000 miles a week in city traffic, you're going to have a little bad luck, sooner or later.

If memory serves, the ticket that put Lucky over the edge and resulted in loss of license was for riding his moped on a county highway. I don't think you even need a drivers license to ride a moped, but you can get a real ticket with real points for riding one on a numbered or lettered highway. Same as you can get a drunk driving ticket for riding your bicycle drunk.

The thing that will make Lucky always stand out in my mind was a left handed compliment.

The most profitable calls when it's super busy at night are short rides that go from the State st. area to the stadium area, or vice verse. This is especially true during the bar rush. It is only human nature to want those quick profitable rides, the object of the game is to make as much money as possible in the hours you have the cab leased for. Over the years, the dispatchers have tried all manner of things to move the long rides. They don't try very hard any more. The reality is, if the drivers aren't allowed to run the rides they want to run, they'll refuse to pick up the rides they don't want to run, which basically hurts the cab riding community.

Those short rides, State st., to the stadium, are called "puff calls", which is short for cream puff calls. Piggie's answer was to only give out a puff call with a long call which took the driver out of downtown. If you didn't want the potatoes you couldn't have the gravy either. This was just plain stupid, of course. If you want me to take a ride to Middleton at bar time, and you're trying to move 2 singles and a pair, I want the 3 way split with the long fares, to package it so 3 cabs are going to Middleton in such a situation makes little sense. If I have a fare in going to Middleton or East Towne, a short fitter is not gravy, and I don't want it.

When I became a night driver, this conflict had been going on for years already. Piggie added cream puffing to our vocabulary unintentionally. He'd sit there, frustrated that he wasn't getting his way, and mutter, "Cream puffin faggots!" Sounds kind of similar to something the bad guys in a Tolken novel would say,doesn't it? Anyhow, that's where the term came from.

The left handed compliment Piggie gave me, came second hand via Lucky. He said that the Hog commented to him that I was a "real cream puffer", in other words, the best of the best. Thanks Piggie!! Piggies long dead, and I'm not that good any more, but 15 years ago, I was the best. Piggie said so, and Lucky told me, so it must have been true.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

They come here for an education and we sure give them one

There is a place, down by South Towne, called Detox. If the cops pick you up and you're drunk enough to be staggering, you will probably wind up in Detox. What does Detox do? My knowledge of the place is all second hand, but basically they watch you sleep it off, and when you don't die, they turn you lose the next day. If you do die, they call 911 and have the body removed, and if it looks like you're going to die, they call 911 and have you moved to the hospital.

The minimum price for a trip to Detox is hundreds of dollars. Again, my knowledge is second hand, but you want to have your insurance premiums paid.

The day shift dispatcher who says, "They come here for an education, and we sure give them one", still dispatches 5 days a week. He says it when there is a call like Detox to the dorms, or county jail to the dorms, and we have calls like that the day after Halloween, and the day after football games. Like many of us, he wandered off for a few years, but he came back. Can't you just hear Sting saying, "They all come back!" Our dispatcher has a full head of red curly red hair which is beginning to grey, is slender, and still smokes. He's always been a good guy, as fair as anyone. The other comment he's given to making is, "Driving away from money?" He says this when he's trying to get a cab to a certain place and the driver finally says no, and refuses to be stuffed the next call.

What he does is give you a call, then a few minutes later he asks you where you are and what you're doing (follows you around). Then he says also get xyz. About the time you should have loaded that one, he asks you again. When I was real green and didn't know I could say no, this really was annoying, because I'd want to do something specific, and he'd want me to do something else. This also used to be called using and abusing a driver but the company hasn't let them say that for almost 20 years.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween - The best costume prize is.........

Before I forget, if you want to see what Halloween in Madison looks like this website has some nice photos and so on......

I was standing in a long line, and casually told the fellow in front of me that Halloween spending was down 15% this year over last year. I asked how many people he expected at his Halloween party. He had enough various bottles of booze in his cart to stock a bar that specialized in mixed drinks, and he had a few cases of beer too. He said he was making 18 gallons of wap. I guess wapatuli is one of the vilest forms of witches brew, so why not, a Halloween wap party sort of makes sense.

I replied that I once knew a priest named Father Wapatuli. He and his wife both giggled. This a description of a movie titled New Machine. I think the movie was a theater class project, but it doesn't matter why it was made. It should be a local cult classic. The new machine was an old candy vending machine that was purchased to replace the origional machine when it died. I won't disclose it's location, but 30 years ago those of us who knew it's location also knew that a joint cost $0.75. I went on to say that the guy who kept it stocked is now the president or CEO of a local high tech firm, which should raise no eyebrows in Madison, Wisconsin.

There were 3 knobs out of 8 that would lead to a joint. You deposited the first quarter, pulled the knob, and nothing came out. You deposited the second quarter, pulled the knob, and a strike anywhere kitchen match came out. You deposited the third quarter, pulled the knob, and a joint rolled the classical way about 2/3 the diameter of a lucky strike, came out.

In the movie, if memory serves, Father Wapatuli picks up the kitchen match and joint out of the candy machine tray, and lights and hits the joint. The dialog was something like, 'I remember these from college.' A couple of minutes later he is shown swaying back and forth, and it was perfictly played. It's hard to resist the impulse to name these people, but........... Anyhow, that's the enduring image I have of the fellow with the house over by Norris Court, and the enduring memory of New Machine.

The fellow who made the movie was a fellow many called Duckless. He got kicked out of more living situations than anyone I've ever known. If someone specifically asks, I'll offer more about this group of people from the past in more posts, I do see a story or 2 coming out of the group. Duckless wasn't that much a part of our crowd, he was a Leon Varjain hanger on. I was warned about helping Duckless out, but I took mercy on him when he was homeless yet again, in the fall of 1980. When I got crab lice because he sat on my bed when I wasn't home watching television, I gave him 48 hours to get rid of the crabs. He made a big joke out of it, and said he'd make a movie out of it. 48 hours came and went, I didn't have the time to confront him about it at precisely 48 hours. He took it as a victory, big mistake on his part. His fate was sealed when I saw a bottle of quell shampoo dispensed by health service to a Simon Rabinowitz. Simon was Kathy's boyfriend, but she played around with Duck, so they all had the crabs. He came home from a party on Sunday morning and all his stuff was in the street. Want to hear the whole sordid tale? I take requests.

And if you ever see a tall skinny 60ish guy in a priest costume at Freakfest, do ask him if he's the famous Father Wapatuli.

I've been asking people what costume I'm wearing. I've gotten really interesting responses. I'm only wearing my usual outfit, so what they're telling me is what they really see.

I've gotten, Indiana Jones, a guy leading a safari, and Neil Young so far. I guess they like my hat, I think that's mostly what they're seeing.

What costume am I wearing at work really? The one I wear 24/7 and it's a doozie.

My last passenger last night will probably get the prize for best costume this year. She said it was nothing specific, a silver mask, a wispy silver cape, and a shift of the same wispy silver fabric. Nope, she got 2nd.

The best costume of this years Freakfest to be seen by this cab driver was a buxom young woman in a fleece leopard costume. It was a great costume because it allowed her to wear long under ware too. Her companion was a girl I had in the cab on Friday night too. The companion girl told me someone had set her costume on fire, but they caught it quickly. Sure enough, when they got out, the fringes on the back of her costume were burned. And people wonder why they wind up in jail when they do stuff like that and get caught.

The all time best costume I've ever seen on State st. at Halloween? The dancing radio, which probably belonged to WORT. It was a round top radio, like they had in the '30's, made from cardboard or foam core, supported by shoulder straps. Who ever made it spent quite a bit of time on it, the artwork was very nice. It looked just like an old radio, the scale was right too. The person inside had on a black leotard with white gloves and white sneakers. She danced on the Library Mall for hours and will forever be a happy memory of Halloween in Madison.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The artistic inspiration for Jabba The Hut

If you come to State st. in the evening, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, you'll see cab after cab cruising, pretty much like they do in big cities. Here we call it trolling for drunks. Years ago cabs stayed off of State st. until bar time. Curley and I changed all that.

Curley was the artistic inspiration for Jabba The Hut. He was fat and claimed he wanted to eat until he exploded. He had an artificial hip and walked with a profound limp. He had a single functioning kidney that was origionally his sisters (she's a nice lady). He had reddish hair and a face that resembled a pepperoni pizza. He is mostly famous for all the little things he introduced into the jargon of dispatching. When he cleared the board, he'd say, "I win", these days when the board is cleared they often say Curley wins or they'll say it's a Curley board.

When I started driving, Curley was just another night driver. I don't recall when he started dispatching, it was before I ever became a night driver. At first he was a rookie dispatcher who started during the tail end of some of my day shifts, I didn't know him well, he was ok for a rookie. His shift was 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm, and that never varied. Before he really graduated from being a rookie, I started driving nights. In a way, we were rookies together, he a dispatcher, I a night driver. At first we got along pretty good.

The time was 3 or 4 years into my cab driving career, I was pretty generous back in those days. Back then it was normal for all the drivers to tip the dispatchers if we had good days. Say to yourself, 30 drivers times 5 bucks divided by 2 dispatchers. Not bad at all, considering it was undeclared and the company pays them pretty well in the first place. Curley cured me of that. Ask any dispatcher if I tip, they will say once in a blue moon, or more likely, never.

I don't recall what started it. Very likely it started out that Curley was fighting Piggies battle with me for him. Recall that Piggie and I had issues over yards runs cheating. Curley idolized Piggie. The model of how Piggie figgured the night shift at Badger Cab should work would be most accurately described as the way a cell block runs in prison. One prisioner is the boss, he has friends who get special treatment and are henchmen for him, and Piggie saw himself as the boss. I suppose he was very impressionable when he got tossed into Waupon for U&P (want the details, ask and I'll post them).

Curley told me in no uncertain terms that he would screw me over and I'd quit because I wouldn't make any money. Only, by this time I was a pretty experienced cab driver, I had 3 or 4 years of driving experience. If it's busy enough, you can't screw over the drivers, you need them, and screwing over a driver is ALSO screwing over a customer most of the time. If it's not busy, it becomes obvious to all the drivers you're screwing over a particular driver, and nobody likes to see that kind of thing as stardard operating procedure. But between Curley and I it was SOP because I didn't take that kind of crap off anybody, and he didn't take that kind of lack of respect for authority.

Thus was cruising State st., born. It would be absolutely dead, nobody doing anything, and all of a sudden, I'd get a couple of flags on State st., and poof I'd have a $50 hour. $50 hours are still big hours. Other drivers would give me shit, tell me I should be ticketed, and I'd ask them why they were waiting, get me ticketed if you can.

The last time I saw Curley or worked with him, I was doing 48 states in a semi truck most of the year, so I didn't drive cab a lot. I came in to drive a couple of shifts and Schnidley said Curley had passed away, died in his sleep, of natural causes. Poppy cock!!!! I was told it was a cocaine overdose by someone who isn't as smooth a lier as Schnidley. I'll hold the details of how the person who told me about it knew, lets just say, somethings go undisclosed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hog huntin

I had 4 guys from Campbellsport in the cab last night. Their pilgrimage to Madison for Halloween is very important to them, the year just wouldn't be complete with out it. Here for a really long weekend, Halloween in Madison is more important to them than deer season. They'd taken in a concert at the Barrymore and were heading back down town to get to the serious part of the evening, hog huntin.

I only got 2 of their names, the one in the front seat was named Pete and one in the back seat was named Mike. All 3 fellows in back were egging Pete on to best his record.

"Record?", I asked.

"Oh yeah! Petie's got the state record! Don't you Petie? The Wisconsin hog huntin crown!!"

I glanced at the fellow beside me in the passenger seat.

Pete grinned broadly and explained his record, "We were in Oshkosh. We went into this run down little country western place just out side of town and there she was. She was at least a 3 pointer. I was out for a record that night. She was about 4'10" and weighed at least 350 pounds. Her thighs were about this big (he held his hands apart describing a circle about 15" in diameter). She was wearing a really cheesy country outfit. I asked her to dance and we danced for a while. She was really hot to take me home with her, and she was record material, so I went for it. When I woke up the next morning she was still asleep. As I was dressing I pulled a drawer open in her dresser and pissed in it."

"Know what?", he chuckled, "About 2 weeks later she actually called me up and asked me out for a second date."

At this point all 4 of them were roaring, and I was just pulling off the square onto State st. One of the guys in the back seat said, "Oh man, who dropped his ass?!?"

Almost immediately all 4 of them were making gagging sounds, laughing their ass's off, and making all the crude comments you hear when someone deliberately farts in a cab with all the windows rolled up. I rolled all the windows down and resisted the temptation to strangle one or more of them, it was only about a minute until we'd reach Brat's and I'd be rid of them. The last 2 blocks down State the 2 in the window seats in the back were hanging out the windows shouting cat calls at all the women we passed. True to form, no tip. Real class guys, on a quest. Hog huntin.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Fuzz

To the best of my knowledge we've had a couple of drivers become cops, and we had one who claimed he was a former cop. The guy who claimed to be a former cop, I'll call him WF, he never had anything like a nickname and without his written permission I wouldn't use his name here.

It's my understanding that Mario is a cop up north somewhere. Sheriff's deputy or something like that. Mario was one of my night drivers when I first started driving. Like all the night drivers back then he figured he owned the car until he was tired of driving. If it stayed busy late, he just wouldn't bring the cab in, and the five bucks for every fifteen minutes late, you are kidding right? Mario pay me for being late? Roy Boy would tell me it was the dispatchers job to kick Mario off the road, the dispatcher was usually Louie, and he would NOT kick Mario off the road. Dave, where ever you are, DO NOT come back. Mario did other cute stuff, now that I think of it, he was fond of doing doughnuts on fresh snow, for ten dollar bills, and he bragged about it. Doughnuts? Spinning the cab 360 degrees in the middle of the street.

Gwench is a sheriffs deputy locally. She was a good dispatcher, there was a piercing quality to her voice, and you could hear her perfectly at 60 mph with all the windows down. She once told me she either wanted to be a cop or a lawyer, or was it cop or a judge, now that I think of it I don't recall, but judges are lawyers. Her long time boyfriend, Jumbo, is a lawyer I'm told. We all liked her, she was good people, and to her credit she never came back and applied being a cop to anybody in the cab business. As Sandy Van Sycle once wryly said, "Everybody's doing something, all the time." And of course, legally, some of it is kind of sketchy.

Back to WF............. I'm not sure when he left, I only know he's not around now. This leads me to believe more confidently that he was never a former cop at all, he was current, and what ever he was supposed to be researching was found to be insufficient to justify him being here. He always had one of those blue tooth ear pieces going and he made a lot of phone calls while he was driving. When I found out he was a cop, I asked him why somebody with a generous pension would go out and try to get himself killed 4 or 5 nights a week. His reply lead me to believe he carried a gun. He said something about it being very unlikely someone would survive trying to rob him. How does that work? He went on to explain he was entitled to defend himself. Yeah right. If I punched the ticket of some poor under priviledged minority youth who was trying to rob me, I KNOW I'd be given the burden of proving he was trying to rob me. I'd need a bullet hole or a serious knife wound in me to keep from going to jail. Ah, he said, it was a question of credibility. Yeah, he'd pull out a badge, show it to the cops that came to the scene, end of story.

The most

The company is real picky about overloading these days, but it wasn't always that way. Years ago, the dispatcher would over load a cab, and the way that worked was you went to the address with 4 or 5 people in the cab who would agree to scrunch up, and ask the other folks if they wanted to scrunch or wait. They would usually, but not always, say they wanted to go now and they'd scrunch. Thus, most of us have personal records for most people in the cab. My records come in categories.

My record for most adults in a cab at one time was Perkins on U to the SAE house. The abbreviation for Perkins on University for the dispatch staff is P on U, I'm told. I went out there at about 4 am and the guys were all still drunk and they'd just gotten done pigging out after closing the bars at 2:30 am. One guy said when's the next cab coming? I said it would probably be me because not too many people were working at the moment. It was Sunday morning and most of the night guys check it in at 3:00 or so after the bar rush.

They'd planned on 2 cabs, 6 in one, and 7 in the other. We had bench seats in those days, 5 was a load, 6 was a heavy load, and 7 was a real heavy load, but dispatchers would do it back then. About the 3rd kid asked how many I'd take at once. I told him I didn't care, as many as wanted to go in this group. He looked at the kid behind him and said, "We can do this!!!" The other kid said, "Yeah!!!!!" With that they started piling in. All of them piled in. About a mile down the road the guys on the bottom started groaning and whining. The guys on the top were laughing their ass's off. When we got to the SAE house (Lake st. and the lake), they all piled out and paid me.

The most I ever had who weren't all in the same group came during the spring tournaments, the wrestling tournment to be precise. There were 2 groups of 5 at Jingles, if memory serves. It's not called Jingles anymore. Jingles O'Brian retired, I think. Anyhow, I pulled up front and they started arguing back and forth that group A called the cab, no group B called the cab, no group A, get the idea? So I asked if they wanted to scrunch, they said they did, and they piled in. 10 mom's and dad's of high school wrestlers who didn't have their spouse along with. You want to talk about a lot of giggling, and other little woopie kind of comments, they were all goosing each other until the first group got out at the Inn Towner. I wish everybody was that happy and fun to chauffer around.

The most I ever had in more than 2 groups was 3 groups of 3 but I don't recall the details.

The most the dispatcher ever gave me was 2 groups of 5 coming from the skirts to down town on a new years eve, the details I don't recall.

And finally (drum roll.....), the most I ever almost got caught with. 11 going from the Essen Haus to what is now Rams Head. It was warm weather, and the dodge diplomats usually had crank windows, so all the windows were cranked down. The last 2 laid across the rest of the people in the back seat and let their feet hang out the window. I'd gotten someone in the front seat to pay me durring the ride, so when we passed a cop going in the opposite direction in front of the Orphiem, the only thing I needed to do was get around the next corner on to Henry st., and get them out of the cab. I watched the cop make a U turn in the rear view window, and the cab driving gods were looking over me that night, the light at my end of the block was green. I whipped around the corner, jumped out the door, ran around the cab opening the doors and pulling people out. The cab was empty, the doors were closed, and the last guy was going through the door into the bar when the squad car pulled up behind me with his cherries on. The cop jumped out of the squad and rushed up to me, ticket book in hand, and demanded, "How many people did you have in that cab?"

"A few", I answered. He demanded that I tell him how many numerous times, and each time I told him I wasn't sure, a few was as specific as I'd be. I've never had a cop madder at me while driving cab. After about 10 minutes of yelling at me he finally gave up, got back in the squad, and pulled away. To my utter amazement, he didn't write me a ticket.

These days, per company policy, I only take as many as I have seat belts for, which is 4 passengers, 3 in the back, and 1 in the front. The old days were more fun, for a lot of reasons.

Perfesser Neilboy and the good old days....

Back when I started driving, there was no drunk bus. Drunk bus? Yeah. At bar time, we'd load up and haul students to the lakeshore dorms by the carload, and it was profitable. Then along came Donna Shalala who created the drunk bus. Most people in the university didn't care for her, and I can assure you the cab drivers didn't. She said that it was too dangerous for the students to find their own way home from the State st., Langdon area at bar time (I mean after all, they might step in a puddle of vomit and twist their ankle, right?), so the university had an obligation to provide bus service to the lakeshore dorms. And poof, just like that, every night driver made $50-$100 less on Friday and Saturday nights. The loss of revenue was a seven day a week thing, but on the other nights of the week it was less money.

As it stands, and has stood for a long time, if you can stumble on to a bus, the bus is free, and it will take you to the lakeshore dorms. They also have a program called Saferide, which they can use twice a month, which is basically a free cab ride, paid for by the university. Thank god we don't do those rides, I really can't stomach listening to a kid mouthing the lies about it being dangerous to walk around downtown. Send your kid here, if they don't know how to lie, we'll teach them. Where was I............., oh yeah, Neil.

Neil is called Perfesser Neilboy because he finally fucked up and graduated. Making him a PhD. He was a grad student when I started driving, which is an honorable excuse to be a cab driver. I've always liked the guy, really have, one of my favorite family members. He's really a bright fellow. Grey now, from NYC I believe, perhaps even Brooklyn, and when he talks, I'm reminded of an old TV show and a character called Gunther Tutti accent wise. He left Badger over a snit about a special needs passenger, and now drives a cab painted yellow. He claims it's the best thing that ever happened to him, and he's right. He's called Neilboy because he used to call Louie, John Boy. Louie was a nickname of a dispatcher who long ago left the business to become a realtor. His first name was John, hence John Boy. Neil was the only person who called him that. John Boy was the dispatching on my first ever day shift during the week, back when I didn't have a handle on bidding properly.

I remember it well...... I was about Park and Emerald, and some micky mouse little call popped like 600 W. Main to the square. I was on my way to the office to check in, which would have made it around 9:15 am. At 9:15 am on a Monday, that call is VERY hard to move. I, innocent that I was, simply wanted the last $1.50 of the morning (that was the fare in those days). So I started trying to bid for it. Every time I bid, Louie would answer, "Six Oh that isn't how we bid for that." So I'd try something else. When I got to Five Points (Park and W. Washington), I gave up and drove past the call back to 12 (the old old office). When I walked into the office to check in, Roy Boy was waiting and he apologised for Louie. I recall telling him I could make money in spite of Louie. He didn't need to apologize to me, it was the customer he needed to apologize to. The customer didn't get a ride. Was I bidding for it wrong? Sure, it was my second or third ever shift, but is that a good excuse to deny service to a customer? Louie was a jerk, and the tradition of jerks answering the phone and dispatching continues to this day, people complain to drivers about it all the time.

Neilboys latest sin was showing off a photo copy of a ticket Roy Boy got in Fondy not long ago. He was down at the green and white drinking, and he showed this photo copy to Ham Dinger and Dickdro. Dickdro went balistic, but he's that way, the ultimate company man, his license plate is a vanity plate that is KSA-768. Neilboys joke was that Roy Boy ought to pay $2.00/shift he works penalty for having that ticket. If we get a ticket our checkin goes up supposedly to cover the increased insurance costs.

To this day, I'd like to see Louie behind the barn, with a release saying that I couldn't be held responsible criminally or financially for the results.

My favorite thought about Neilboy is a ride I was doing short east at bar time one cold winter night. I had 3 guys in the back seat and I was passing him on Johnson st., just a little before Tenny Park. I pointed at the other red and white cab and said, "That's Perfesser Neilboy gentlemen, you may moon him if you wish." About 30 seconds later the kid immediately behind me shuddered out, "God damn, that glass is cold!!" And no, I did not take time out to wash the window.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Your office an empty cab.

That used to mean a yards run. You still hear it rarely, and it always means money, but I don't think we do yards runs any more.

A yards run was taking a train crew, 1-5 guys, from one rail road yard to another. Say, Janesville to Rock Springs. It usually meant you'd make a lot of money that day, hundreds of dollars.

When I started driving, the Hog was in France. He had a degree in French, and was qualified to teach French, but where an ex-con, covered with tattoos, would get a job teaching 7th graders French, isn't quite clear to me. I'm sure that like so many of us with dreams of escaping, he was combining a long vacation with a skills upgrade, and considered the trip an investment in his future. When he came back he was fluent in spoken French, though I think Du's skill's were always superior. As long as the Hog was in France, yards runs went out fairly.

It's always been the case that cheating causes hard feelings. I mean, after all, we're playing keepsies, when the supposed randomness of the business mix is tampered with there is sure to be someone who will be offended. It's not dollaroids you're stealing from someone else, the cash is real. It's never mattered who's doing it or which call(s), and I'm not the only none who gets offended. The company has always taken the line that they don't condone cheating and take steps to prevent it. Horse Pucky, I say. They have always looked the other way. Which is probably why, in the end, that we lost that account.

When the Hog came back, his expectation was that he'd dust off the throne which had been empty for a year, and resume being king of the night time dispatchers. I'd been driving about a year when this moment came. It would be a number of years before I'd become a night driver, so I only viewed this Bozo as another driver. He viewed himself as an authority figure and how dare some rookie driver with only one year challenge him or anything he did. Well, I've felt the same way when all of them came back, and they/we all come back (my longest pure absence was around 5 months). My attitude has always been, who the hell do you think you are?

The Hog did give me at least one chance to realize my mistake, and give him the proper level of respect, and ignore his cheating. He didn't much like the who the hell are you attitude.

How Piggie (the nickname he liked) cheated was inside information. Piggie loved to play pool. He wasn't very good at it, but he loved the pool hall and the game almost as much as he loved Badger Cab. It turns out that some number of Chi-Nor employees also frequented the pool hall. They'd tell Piggie when the yards runs were going to happen a day or 2 in advance. Then about 30 minutes before the call would go out, he'd wander over to the office and wait for the call to go out over the air. He was always first up. The other drivers in the fleet tolerated this because they knew the system and protesting it was a waste of time, or because they didn't know the system and didn't notice it going on (ROOKIES), but I didn't like it and said so. It wasn't until years later when Crawdaddy started driving cab that anyone found out how the Hog was cheating. Crawdaddy is also a serious pool player, also knew the Chi-Nor guys and disclosed the Hog's secret. Even after this disclosure, the company denied it and allowed this practice to continue until we lost the account.

The Hog would go on to mess with me until he was too old and sick to be a driver or dispatcher anymore. He also got Curley to pursue his vendetta's for him. This was the beginning of my years long conflict with Curley. Curley worshiped the ground the Hog walked on. If I had it to do over again, I'd act the same.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On the Banks of The Red Cedar

The Big 10 water polo tournament is in town this weekend, they're playing at the SERF. I had a guy from the Iowa team, and some girls from Moo U., in my cab. Moo U.? That would be Michigan State, and their fight song is the title of this post. When ever I get Michigan State people in the cab I ask them to sing that song. Why? Years ago, before I moved to Madison, I liked visiting East Lansing a lot. And, in fact, I hold cab permit #64 (I think that's the number) in East Lansing, but I never followed up and went back to the company to become a driver.

Become a driver? How does that work? I assume it works the same everywhere, but perhaps it doesn't. They tell you to go and get a cab permit before they'll talk to you about being a driver. So the cops checked me out, and I got a little pin with a number on it in the mail from them. I guess if I ever wanted to go home, I'd have a job waiting for me in East Lansing. Hmmmm, never thought of it before.

I've been hearing some amazing scuttlebutt lately. It's all related to the new 'system' which is to be installed in all of our cabs. It is, of course, being touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's GPS, and takes plastic which will be instantly credited to my account, and has all the time calls on it, and tells the office where I am. Where I am, but not what I'm doing, since we're a zone cab and if it's cash, they'd have no way of knowing if the cab is loaded or not, unless they use a seat sensor. No meter in our cabs. But the new system supposedly will know the price of every ride immediately when the ride is entered into it.

The scuttlebutt is related to why we're getting this piece of junk, and how it's to be paid for. Regrettably the scuttlebutt makes too much sense, but the most tantalizing of it, I'm unable to verify. The part I can verify is the lie Square Pants is spreading around, but it makes sense too. The screaming of the fat man described in the previous post also fits into this like a glove.

Square Pants scuttlebutt is that checkin is going up by twenty bucks a shift in January. He told me he got it from the manager of his company who got it from Roy. Then he turned around and told Bloomie that he got the same story from me. Bloomie and I concluded that it's just the little German trying to stir up some shit, and since he's including me into his bull shit, I won't talk to him for a few months, aside from telling him he's real lucky that shit splatters. I have to assume this crap will drift back into the office at Badger, but there's nothing I can do about it. They claim it won't go up, and I don't much care one way or another. If they were to do something like that they'd end up with more holes in the schedule, make less money, and I would probably make about the same amount of money. My own seat of the pants thought is, if it was me, I wouldn't risk the holes in the schedule, and I wouldn't do it.

Last summer, Schnidley started telling me about this wonderful system. I said then, as I still say, that I don't see how it's going to improve my business or income. We came to frustration, it's VERY important that people BELIEVE for some reason. Way too important, for the good of the drivers. So Schnidley passed me off to the fat man and he started telling me about it. Why with this new system, they could provide dispatching for a cab company anywhere. Badger Dispatching? I suppose........ But if that's the case why don't they start submitting bids to manage cab companies in small towns?

How does submitting bids work? I lived in a town not far from here that owns it's cab company. In order for them to take federal funds for their public transportation system they have to provide for the needs of the elderly and handicapped. In that town they bought some Crown Vic's and they contract out the management. The management handles scheduling, payroll, hiring people, and the city sees to the car repairs, insurance, and all that sort of thing. Why would the city want to do business with Badger Dispatching? They'd have to install expensive junk in their cars, and deal with a company that is 'somewhere'. If the fat man wants to run a company so bad, perhaps he should submit a bid, surely there are many such cab business's. So, I'm sure the fat man see's himself overseeing a vast empire of dispatchers in a phone bank like setting. Silly rabbit, trix are for kids.

It seems to me, that the people in the office are forgetting who brought them to the dance. A cab company without cab drivers just doesn't make sense to me. On the other hand, Cabs and cab drivers without dispatching makes complete sense, doesn't it? The words of Bobby will always be true, 'Dispatchers are people who can't successfully drive a cab.'

Friday, October 23, 2009

You can choose your friends but not your family

This is so weird, doing this while sitting in the cab stand at the airport. But, here I am. I got myself a MacBook, and a Blackberry that I use as a modem, and all of a sudden I who have used dial-up all my life, have high speed Internet at work. Wow.

I got into it with the fat man in the office today, who will remain nameless. I'm not yet ready to publish a book, and naming him any further than fat man could be a sketchy idea. He was livid, screaming at me to fuck off, and telling me I was lucky he didn't reach me when he tried to call me at home. Yeah, right. What was he mad about? Read on, and if any of you drivers think I was wrong about this do let me know.

Sunday night I'm headed toward the airport, when stuff to do pops by East Town, and north in Windsor. I'm up, so the dispatcher asks me to pick. I pick the Day's Inn in Windsor. It's a lady who wants a ride to a truck stop to use Western Union. I pull up to the hotel and ask the desk clerk to call what ever room it was, and she asks me if Western Union is still open. I tell her I don't know, and I don't, why would I know that. Then I sat in the car and started to read the paper. All of a sudden this woman appears out of the door and is shrieking that when she called to cancel the dispatcher told her he wouldn't take the cancellation, she'd have to tell the driver herself. Why they do this is beyond me. When someone is going to go out and cancel in person and give the driver something, they NEVER call, they just go out and say sorry about that and hand you money.

I wasn't real pleased. The lady was pissed. The moron in the office who refused to accept the cancellation wasted my time, and perhaps my miles, because I pay by the mile for miles about a certain amount, and that amount is almost always exceeded. So I said, "Thanks a lot JJ, next time just take the cancellation and tell me 22 got my call."

He comes back with he thought it was the right way to handle it, and I tell him he thought wrong, and give him guff over the radio for around an hour. I also wrote on the back of an authorization slip that I thought that practice was BS and it ought to stop. Take the cancellation and move on, right? I put the slip in my envelope without addressing it to anyone in particular and without signing it. It's in my handwriting, in my envelope. They KNOW who's note it is, and it is BS, and it does need to stop.

Next time I'm in the office, I say to Baldy, it ought to stop, and for this reason, and he says he agrees, and wants to know which dispatcher. I tell him point blank that he's asking me to rat out a friend, and if he wants to know bad enough he can go through the stack and find out who was on the board when that call was given out. But why not simply say, guys this is a bad practice, kindly stop doing it.

If one dispatcher is doing something like that, they all know about it, and they all know it's only one guy. Of it's SOP they all know it, or if it's SOP at night.......... You get the idea. So nobodies going to be offended if Baldy says guys this is a bad idea and we don't approve of it, whoever is doing it. And I'm not sure it's just one guy. It's a night time thing, but I never paid close enough attention to notice if it's only a single guy.

And this is what the fat man is screaming about, that he'd like me to leave the company. Leave the company? He screamed a lot of stuff, and he screamed it in front of other people, in the office. Back in the day, it wasn't cool to shriek fuck off at a driver inside the office, they had to do it out side. So I finally told the fat man which dispatcher, but I also wrote a verbose letter to his boss saying it was highly out of line.

20 years ago, outside the window at 12 (12 is the old old office, addressed 12 N. Few, these days called The Pigs Pen on the radio in memory of Piggy), the fat man was screaming at me. I can't recall what his problem was that day, but he was screaming me. And because he intended to scream like a lunatic and use words like fuck, he was doing it outside. He finished the screaming with the following quote, "I'll fuck you! You won't make any money! You'll quit!" At the time, he was one of the M-F 7am-3pm dispatchers. Back then we had 2, a much simpler radio set up, and more business than today. And as all you drivers know, if a dispatcher is allowed to screw over people they don't like, they can take money out of that drivers pocket.

Roy Boy always told me he didn't mean it. Well, he did. And he's been working at screwing me over for 20 years now. I guess we'll see if these days he has enough influence to get rid of me. I don't think he does. If he did, why would he scream about it, why not just do it. Well, fat man, do you have enough influence? I think Roy's going to tell him that he needs to let it go. Roy's going to know that he'll do his utmost to screw me over, and poor Roy is stuck in the middle. Roy is a saint. Baldy can't do his job, and when Roy leaves who knows what will happen. I don't even want to think about it.

By the way, I will be going through and weeding out some of the poorer quality posts, and trying to get this back up to something people would want to read. When I was out for 5 months I just didn't feel like working on it, I guess I need my family around. And I'm seeing new material that's worthy all of a sudden. Why just tonight I told Square Pants that he's luck that shit splatters, and he is. I'll tell you all why, perhaps next post.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's football season again!

They say that the athletic paid the school that played over the weekend 1/2 million to come and play. That represents 1/2 of that small school's annual budget. The Anex didn't even bother having a beer garden after 9:00 pm. Were there the usual cast of drunken morons out taking cab rides? Well, does a bear crap in the woods? I actually did much better than I expected, I guess I was lucky. Judging by the frown on Fast Eddies face Friday and Saturday nights in the drivers room after work, I'm guessing he wasn't lucky.

This Saturday is Moo U. A snafu resulted in me getting taken off the schedule, and Dickie said he didn't know if he could find a spot for me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Part 2

So, I'm getting wheeled out of Denny's, and I have no clue what happened. The last thing that was happening was this guy is telling me for the nth time about sending people home to die because he couldn't save them.

I spend most of the morning in the emergency room. I can't walk, my knees were over extended and I'm not going to be able to walk, even with crutches, for a few days. It will take 3 weeks for me to be able to walk without crutches, and over 2 months to walk without thinking about it like a normal person.

They say no driving for 6 months. I go to this quack for follow up treatment, and he says here take this drug and come back for a blood test. I go back and he doubles the dose. He tells me that I need to find Jesus, and implies that if I do, perhaps Jesus could help me get my driving privileges back sooner. It would be months later before I would discover that state law only prohibited me from driving for 3 months.

About 2 months into taking this stuff, a capsule catches in my throat and burns a hole in the skin. Then the next days dose sticks in the same place, yuck! So, I decide to stop taking the stuff for long enough for the cold sore like spot in my throat to heal, almost expecting trouble. Nothing happened. So I decided to see what would happen if I just stopped taking the stuff. Very smart move, it turns out.

The doctor keeps pushing harder on Jesus. Last time I saw him, he said to me, "How old are you?" I told him and he said I didn't even look 10 years younger than that, "You may live a long time, perhaps 25 or 30 more years. And if you don't accept Jesus as your saviour, he's going to torment you, and make you struggle, you'll suffer, and he'll just keep making you struggle and be miserable. Now do you really want to suffer for the next 30 years?"

Needless to say, that was the last time I'd ever talk to him, and NO I did not find religion.

The neurologist I saw said there's nothing wrong with me.

My diagnosis: Jesus told that old lunatic to poison me and he did. Which is why he was so sure he could help me get driving back early if I found Jesus.

Jesus freaks, for the rest of my life I will consider all of the very dangerous people. More dangerous that Islamic extremists.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ain't life wonderful!!!

Ah, the soap opera continues............ Yesterday at around 11:30am CST, Roy Boy called me and told me I'd passed my reinstatement drug test. I'm back, I can drive a cab again. I told him how good it felt to call him Boss, and know that he is the boss, not just my old friend who I've called Boss for years.

I wasn't expecting a drug test. I don't like them, or trust them. I'm not sure if I would have taken it earlier if I'd known I had to do it. It didn't come up until I gave Dickie my first set of shift add slips. About 2 hours later, I picked up the phone and Dick expressed his shock that my phone actually got answered and had me hold for Roy. Roy came on and told me that when you're gone for more than 90 days, you have to take a drug test to come back. I sighed and said I'd take care of it right away, and less than 48 hours later, I had my results. Finally, I'm free to get back in a cab and wonder why I'm wasting 12 hours of my time to make fifty bucks like all the other drivers who have been struggling for months. This morning, Saturday, is the first morning of being free again, and struggle or not, and the founders of New Hampshire were right, "Live free or die", is the only way to live.

How the whole thing happened and played out:

Years ago, I was referred to this old doctor by his sister in law. He was a nice enough old man, and had a classic practice, 1 doctor, 1 nurse, and 1 receptionist. So, for years he was my family doctor. When I first went there, he had me fill out a questionnaire which is normal for a new patient, and there were a bunch of religious questions on it that were kind of annoying, but the guy is a doctor, so he's a professional, right? I mean, my long time friend, The Rod, is religious but he's still a cab driver, still a professional, and I can still talk to him as a cab driver to another driver. So, I do my best to fill out these religious questions on this quacks questionnaire, and I come to one that is, "Why are you here?"

"Why are you here?", is asking for some religious answer, I'm sure you can all imagine the hoped for responses. I answered it, "Because nothings killed me yet." I mean, isn't that the truth? So, we argued over it and I finally said, "Nothing has killed me yet. No accident, no pathogen, nothing has killed me yet. I will be alive until I die, and not a day longer. That is reality, is it not Doctor?" He didn't like it, but he had to let it go there.

I always ask any doctor or dentist if they'd prefer to not have me as a patient. I extend this question to all professionals I do business with. If you don't want my business, I REALLY DO NOT want to be your patient or client. Make sense? It does to me. But I guess there are legal obstacles to a doctor or dentist saying they don't want your business, and in this Mickey Mouse society, hopefully someone in government will come to their senses someday and change it so they can decline any patient for their own reason, but as of now, they have to take you if they're taking new patients at all, it would seem. If I had it to do over again, I would have excused myself from his exam room on that horse pucky question, paid the bill, and never looked back, but if I was bright, would I have 20 years experience driving a cab?

The drivers out there all know that anyone who gets in the cab and immediately says, "I'm a Christian!", will be nothing but trouble, even The Rod would agree, though he'd say they're not a problem for him.

In the beginning, the receptionist would make a massive deal out of saying she'd pray for me. She says that to everyone. Perhaps she has some fantasy that she's really a doctor too, and she does it with prayer. In the beginning, I'd politely say, I'd prefer that she not pray for me and if she was unwilling to respect my wishes, do it silently and don't tell me about it. Then the doctor would want to put his hands on me, have her put her hands on me too (all the hands together), and all of us pray that I'd recover from strep throat. Reluctantly he'd give you an antibiotic for the strep throat too, just in case. I progressively got less tolerant of this nonsense, if nicely asking that you don't do this only encourages you, it will become a demand, and it will cease to be nice. After years of this, I came to feel that I'd been too ugly about all this.

Recriminations over discouraging people who want to be religious have been around for thousands of years, I'll describe this further in the future if anyone asks. I once came across the most fascinating debate of this subject in the Talmud, which I'd be willing to share if anyone asks, but won't bore the rest of you with it. Anyhow, I found myself feeling like I'd been a little too hard on a nice old man who happened to be my family doctor, and wanted to get right with my conscience.

The doctor has for years and years had a bible study group that meets in a restaurant on the west side on a weekly basis at 6:00am in the middle of the week. What could it hurt? I'll go a couple of times, it'll make him feel good, and I can feel like I made up for being a jerk. There's nothing wrong with reading fantasy, it's when you start believing it, that it becomes a problem. I went about 3 times every 2 months over the winter, and figured I was close to done with it when it happened.

It was late winter, and I was preparing to become a summer time day driver. I was driving 3 nights a week, and one day shift a week. I was a day driver in the beginning. Getting the feel of the day shift is critical to surviving these days, when 50 bucks for 12 hours is not uncommon. My day shift was Tuesday, 4:00am-noon. The jet lag on Wednesday was tough, but by the end of April it would be 5 day shifts a week, and that would make it worth it.

Then came the second Wednesday in March. I got a late start, and by the time I got to Denny's, the last people, except the doctor, were leaving. He was once again going through his story about being a young doctor at Chicago Memorial, and how 1/2 of the people who came in, were impossible to save, so he sent them home to die. I'm pretty stupid, so I never saw the horse pucky in this. Think about it. Then ask yourself, if you see the sneaky, cleaver little double meaning of it. I asked the neurologist who signed off on letting me drive again, if he ever had such conversations with his patients. He frowned darkly, and asked me for that doctors full correct name and where practiced. I doubt it's acceptable medical practice to share things like that with patients. But I digress............ To get back to that Wednesday morning, next thing I knew, I was being wheeled out by the fire department. That was the end of driving a cab for the foreseeable future, and thus began the long, unwanted vacation.

I'll finish this in part 2 or part 3, I'm out of time for today.