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.