Friday, March 23, 2007

Casino gold

I hit a lucky ride, in more ways than one. I got a flag from a hotel near downtown San Diego going out to Barona Casino. It's an $80 fare, when my average is around $20. It turned into a round trip, plus waiting time and tip, giving me $200 for the ride. But that's not the best part. I threw $20 into a slot machine and, on the 12th pull, hit $100. I hit the Cash Out button so fast I thought I sprained my shoulder.

Naturally, there's a problem. I stole the ride...accidentally.

I had been sitting outside the hotel where I eventually picked up, and 70 said, "95 get in here, quick." I did, and passed the other driver coming out. He said there are two ladies for Barona. All seemed fine. I picked up, called "Flag from Hilton to Barona," turned my radio off -- when somebody gets a long ride the idiots like to ham it up on the radio, and I don't want my customers to hear it -- and the rest happened like I described above.

I spoke with 70 when I got back, a few hours later, and he said he made a mistake by calling me into the hotel in the first place. Cab 131, a Brazilian named Vito, was first for bells*. I hadn't been keeping track of my spot, and there's no real reason to, since dispatch will call my number when I'm first and there's a customer ready to go. When 70 called me in, I instantly assumed I was first. Oops.

To make things worse, I had turned my radio off immediately after calling in the flag, and didn't hear that 131 was raising hell on the radio for having a really good flag stolen. He uses a lively combination of English and Portuguese. He's so animated that we have a special name for it: radio Vito. I can only imagine what he was saying, or trying to say.

When I get back on the streets I'll go to Vito and offer him an apology and $40. I need to get my good name back.

*When we return, empty, to our primary zone, we call dispatch and choose a spot on a stand, which is maintained by dispatch. This is for bells (calls sent to us via radio). There is a second line, which is the physical placement of cars in line, used for flags who walk up to the cars. To recap: we have a dispatch (bell) line and a flag line. Confused? Vito usually is, too.

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