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.

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