Sunday, April 15, 2007


It has been an interesting day. At 2:00 p.m. I went out to the street in front of my house and my cab was not there, as it should have been. I called Andrew, the morning driver, and he didn't answer his phone. So I called HQ, and they said the Millennium Falcon lost its brakes this morning, and there are no more cars available.

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The Falcon

Apparently three cars broke down this morning, with mine being the last. Since there are only three cars in reserve, we are out of luck.

I decided to take today and tomorrow off, instead of Mon and Tues.

The unsettling part of all this is that I notified HQ in writing more than three weeks ago that there is a problem with the car. I also called the owner and spoke with him in person to discuss the problem. Plus, Tom, our third driver, discussed the problem with Fred, the mechanic.

We made three attempts to get the car fixed; in person, on the phone, and in writing. And the problem didn't get fixed, leaving Andrew to suffer a brake failure while driving.

Since my civilian vehicle is down, as well, I had to call a cab to go downtown for coffee and to buy some books and things. I called Silver Cab, and waited 45 minutes before calling them back to ask where my cab might be. They said the dispatcher forgot to send for a car. It was a full hour before I got my cab.

When the driver arrived, he tried to complain to me that I should have instructed the dispatcher on how to get to my house, because it's difficult to find. His car smelled strongly of body odor, and it was filthy inside and out.

Never again will I use Silver Cab.

I had a nice lunch and then some coffee at a downtown Starbucks on 5th and F. There are five Starbucks in the Gaslamp Quarter; it's a plague of biblical proportions. After that I bought the "AP Manual of Style" at Borders book store on 6th and F. I will try to clean up my writing. I already have "The Economist Style Manual".

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Starbucks, looking west

I tried to find "Bombardiers", a fiction book I read many years ago. Borders didn't have it, unfortunately. They did have about 7,000 small children running around, yelling and running into people like it was Disneyland. I don't dislike children, I just dislike being near them.

"Bombardiers" was written by Po Bronson, who turned his experience as a stock broker into a novel -- and it's fantastic, by the way. It's almost as funny as "A Confederacy of Dunces".

I've been considering turning my taxi experience into a novel (don't laugh; sillier things have been done), but I can't think of good ideas for structuring the thing. Perhaps I can get some ideas from Bronson.

I flagged an independent yellow cab on 5th Ave for the return trip home. It was called Curtis Cab, and it was a pristine Mercury Marquis with leather seats and all the options -- cruise control, electronic dash, electronic compass built into the rear view mirror, electric seats, etc. It makes the Millennium Falcon look like a relic from the Bronze Age.

The driver -- I forget his name -- said the owner bought it in 2000, with 35,000 miles, for $3,000. That's a steal. Since then they have had two flat tires with it. That's it. It now has 145,000 miles.

I had him stop at 7-11 so I could buy a 2-liter bottle of Coca Cola, a sixer of Sam Adams Summer Ale, two packs of Marlboros, and a bag of ice. With two days off in a row and some spectacular things waiting for me on DVR, I'll need all that stuff to make it through.

On the DVR: Formula 1 race from Bahrain, the American LeMans from Long Beach, NASCAR from Texas, the GP2 race from Bahrain, and the ChampCar series from Long Beach.

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