Friday, April 20, 2007

Eventful afternoon

I paid the entire lease today, $600, because I forgot that it was Tom's last day. What can I say? Andrew and Tom are solid guys, but we're not friends. Other than a weekly exchange of cash for the lease, I don't pay any attention to them.

Since I forgot to get Vitao's money (our new Brazilian cab partner), it fell to me to cover it. No problem there. I can get the money later. I've known Vitao for two years -- he's already a driver. Andrew snatched him away from his current partner. Not to go on a tangent, but I was sure we would never find anyone who wanted to drive Tom's hours, which were Monday through Thursday, 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. But Andrew managed it. I owe him for that.

While I was at HQ the owner went out to inspect the Falcon, and he pointed out a scrape on the right rear quarter panel. He took Polaroids of the damage. I had never seen it before. He said a South Bay hotel called this morning and reported that car 95 had scraped a sign. Tom was driving this morning. He didn't stop, and he didn't report the damage to me or the owner. That means any of the three drivers could get the bill if the hotel hadn't reported him. What a bastard.

I whipped out the cell and was about to call him to rip him a new one, but the owner said to wait a day or two. He wants to give him a chance to call and admit what he did. So we're waiting.

When I was ready to leave HQ, my car wouldn't start. Since the owner was there, I explained that the mystery electrical problem plaguing the car for six months still hasn't been fixed. Something is draining the battery. He called Fred, our mechanic, and he came over straightaway (the shop is at a different location than HQ).

He put a new battery in the car and said it would be fine. Now that's odd, considering this was the third new battery he's installed, all in search of the elusive problem.

He admitted the last two times he pulled junk batteries out of retired cars. He told me they were new at the time. He even laughed about it. My cab partners and I have been getting jump starts at least four times a week for six months, in less than convenient places, all because he was too cheap to replace a battery. There isn't much I can do to force people to behave well, so I told him I didn't appreciate it, and shrugged it off.

While at HQ I filled out another work request for the thumping coming from the front left, which didn't go away after the brake job earlier this week. I tried to copy the form, in case I get in an accident and the company tries to say they were never notified, but the copier wasn't working.

I also asked the owner about the latest problem with the Navy. They claimed I wasn't on The List. The owner rolled his eyes. "Yes, you are. I've been over this time and time again with these people." He said he'd make some calls and fix it. Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan is one mile off the coast, waiting to bring more than 5,000 sailors into port tomorrow at 10 a.m. and I still don't have a base permit.

I tell ya, some times this job feels like a cartoon. Competence is a very scarce commodity in the taxi business.

Back outside, I showed Fred a rear tire that looked low, and he had me follow him to the shop. The shop looks just like the place in the old TV show, "Taxi". I thought about getting some photos, but Fred would ask a bunch of questions that I don't feel like answering. I'll swing by some other time; perhaps Fred won't be around.

Image Hosted by
This was close to the shop

While Fred fixed a leak in the tire, I asked how the brake job went the other day (I already knew, but I wanted to hear what he said). "I rebuilt the caliper and it didn't turn out too well." So he got a remanufactured one from a parts store, but forgot to install a copper washer, so it leaked. That's why Tom had to return the car twice for more work (the brakes had gone out while driving again, for a total of three times).

Fred thought all of this was funny. I think it's miraculous nobody has been killed.

I asked him about tire pressure (I asked long ago and promptly forgot) and he said the rears have to be at 35psi by law so the meter is accurate. The fronts, he said, "should be at 45". When I inquired as to why so much higher, he said that tires last longer at higher pressure, but the car doesn't ride quite as well. "And we don't care about comfort -- we want them to last."

You know what that means. I stopped at the first gas station and deflated the fronts to 35. My cab partners and I pay $600 per week -- that's about $2600 per month -- for the car. For that kind of money, it will be as comfortable as possible.

As I was leaving the shop I remembered there's a Chipotle close by, and took advantage by getting a mammoth vegetarian burrito -- black beans, rice, cheese, guacamole. I wolfed it down in record time and was on the streets in time for a nice dinner rush.

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

No comments: