Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Back seats and flat tires

I was going to leave this as a comment at a post over at NYC Taxi Photo, but decided to put it here. Forman's post about a flat tire was excellent.

I've pulled a few odd items from my backseat, too. Like an ornate, silver spoon. Somebody actually had that in their back pocket, or what? I've also found a lot of cameras, cell phones, flash drives, a used condom (yep), a crescent wrench, lots of Marlboros (I'm a smoker and like getting free smokes), wallets, and plenty of loose money. I've found my share of Euro notes, as well.

You don't have to change flat tires?! I'm jealous. We get to do that for ourselves. I even put my own floor jack in the trunk because I hate the cheezy scissor jack that came with the car. I also have a speed wrench, and the spare is full-size (I think all Crown Vics have full-size spares). With the floor jack I can change a tire in just a few minutes.

How I wish I could call somebody for flat tires! If I had a dollar for every tire I've changed on the freeway with customers in the back and cars whizzing by at 65mph, inches from me, I'd be retired by now.

Service car

We have a similar service car, except it's a 1989 Crown Vic station wagon. It has been ripped apart inside for hauling stuff, similar to what you have. Our mechanic, Fred, drives it for field ops. The one time I followed him to our repair shop, I had to stand on the gas to keep up. Fred had the the old wagon sliding and roasting the tires. A real madman.

I have sort of become the informal road man for our company. I like helping the other drivers, and I'm no stranger to cars, so it's a natural fit. I keep jumper cables and a small assortment of tools in the car. I also have a jumper box, wire, electrical tape (you'd be amazed at what you can fix with wire and tape!) and a digital multi-meter for diagnosing electrical problems. I can't fix much on the road, but Fred appreciates knowing about the problem before he goes into the field.

My camera has become a useful tool. Whenever one of our drivers gets in a crash, which is about once a month, I go to the scene and take photos. The other driver and the police are always a little apprehensive until I explain who I am and why I'm taking photos. I don't actually tell the full truth, though. How would it sound at the scene of an accident: "I'm here to photograph the scene so you can't screw us in court with your damned lies." In two years, having seen numerous accident scenes, I have only seen one where it was our guy's fault. It's almost always the fault of the civilian, and they usually lie about what happened.

The few repairs I've managed in the field include wiring an alternator to the side of the engine after the mount broke, and getting the belt back on. It worked long enough to get the guy to the shop. I once fixed a fried brake light switch under the brake pedal. And, once in a while a driver will report a trunk latch breaking just as he's loading luggage. I can usually fix that or provide a bungee cord.

The job is very easy, to be sure, but things always seem to break at the least opportune moments (not like Forman's flat tire at 6:30 in the morning). More often than not our problems occur on the freeway during rush hour, or 200 feet above the bay on the Coronado Bridge. I'm sure problems happen in bad places and times in NYC, too.

2 comments:

Paradise Driver said...

Only ex-cop Crown Vics have the full-sized spare. Standard production models have the donut.

And we have to change our own tires, also.

Forman said...

Well thanks for this post, real interesting. yeah I know I'm pretty blessed to have this garrage. Lots of guys own their own cabs and of course, they then carry their full size spare and all in the trunk. Smaller garages may not have services either.

But I've heard most of the garages take out all the spares and give services in manhattan. if you're in trouble out on a highway far far away, most definately outside city lines, they won't help you. then again, we rarely go out of the 5-boroughs or the 4, staten island doesn't count. The cars are pretty good too. I've had a few cars that shut off when i hit a low idle quickly (approaching lights, or making turns), but they start right up again.

I probably should though bring jumper cables, just incase, it'd be faster then waiting the hour, if they do come. Some H3 on that same day, had its battery die, and me and another cabbie had to help the girls push it to the side, and then the other cabbie was on his way. It took a few minutes for the russian cabbie to explain to them to put it in nuetral and to turn the wheel, I don't think they'd ever driven before. i told them of a city number which might help them find service, but no way in hell would i peddle my garage to them.

people complain about cabs, but atleast we provide for people, this H3 hummer was a radio station advertisement. what purpose does this vehicle do other than gas guzzle and block traffic?