Sunday, June 10, 2007

The mother lode

Tonight was a cabbie's dream. It was roaring busy from 3 p.m. until 3 a.m., with two lulls in the action -- just enough time to reload on coffee and grab a quick couple of tacos. I grossed just over $400. Before any non-cabbies rush out to the nearest cab outfit and apply, be aware that there are as many $100 nights, perhaps more, as $300+ nights.

But it feels great to hit a big one.

The three rides I remember as interesting (I was too busy to update from the streets) were Gollum, a regular customer from a dive bar, and a drunk couple from a bar just down the road.


Gollum is a regular -- an 80-year-old lady who looks like the Gollum creature from The Lord of the Rings, and she walks and talks like Gollum. It's always a tough ride because she's very needy. I help her as best I can, but I'm never happy about it. She uses a walker (look, I hate complaining about old people, but they are my bane), and takes about seven hours to get from the grocery store exit to the door of the cab. Then I have to load her groceries, stow her walker, and listen to her complain about everything under the sun.

When we got to her house all of the stuff I loaded had to be unloaded, and then I had to take her key and open the front door. I had never done that before. She wanted the groceries placed just inside, and eventually she'd make the slow journey from the car to the house. When I opened the door I was knocked over by the smell of rotting garbage. The gag reflex kicked in, and it took all my strength of will to keep from ralphing. It was awful. I took a quick peek inside, and it's a garbage house! I didn't see any actual garbage -- more like piles of papers and boxes everywhere. There was a skinny little aisle winding its way to the interior. I recoiled in horror. She saw the look on my face and said quickly: "I have somebody coming on Monday to straighten up the house."

That was a lie. Nobody had cleaned up the house in ten years or more. What are the odds a cleaning crew is coming over just about the time a stranger looks inside? Should I call somebody? I read some paramedic blogs (see my sidebar), and I sometimes hear about houses like this. Will she end up dying there, unable to summon help, surrounded by piles of junk? If I call the city, they might condemn the place, and then where would she be? I guess I'll do nothing, but it almost seems that something should be done.

Solo guy

I've driven the solo guy twice before, and his M.O. is to be too drunk to form words. He has been able to spit out his address, so I got him home the first two times, but on each of those events, he paid the exact fare, followed by, "I'm usually a great tipper, but I'm short tonight. I'll make it up to you next time." Yeah, right. I've heard that before. People seem to enjoy saying they're usually a nice person, but tonight I'm going to fuck you over.

Tonight I was shocked to see him sober. He said he had a date with a nice woman who lives near him, and after they concluded their evening, he went straight for the bar. He said the date went well, and they will be going out again. I wonder if she knows her new man is a raging alcoholic? She'll find out sooner or later, probably the hard way, after she develops feelings for him.

The fare tonight was $14, and the guy gave me $20. He said: "When I'm drunk I probably don't tip much, but I always try to make up for it when I'm sober. Sorry if I ever shorted you." Wow. I'll put that into the record books.


The other interesting fare were a 20-something couple -- actually, I don't think they were seeing each other, just friends -- who wanted a ride to Santana's at the edge of Hillcrest. It's Mission Hills, I think, and it's close to the Lamplighter bar. It's a $26 fare, so I was pleased. When we got there, I was happy to learn they wanted to run through the drive thru (Santana's is a Mexican place open late), and then return.

While waiting in a really long line at the drive thru, they were chatting about how much they hate bees. I chimed in: me, too. I explained that a bee caused me to crash one of my motorcycles about three years ago. I was riding along at a modest 30 mph or so with my visor up, when a bee flew into my helmet and into my ear. I flinched involuntarily, hitting the handlebars with my left hand, sending me into a large, dirt bank (I was off-road in eastern San Diego County). I flipped, rolled, and tumbled, nearly wrecking a knee and causing about $2k in damage to the bike. I only have liability on the enduro, so I had to eat the cost. Ever since, bees are my enemy, and I hunt down and kill every one I see. When the news stories broke a few weeks ago about bees disappearing en masse, I was secretly overjoyed. My customers liked the story, but my knee throbbed while I was telling it.

When all was said and done, the fare, plus tip, was $60. A great ride, with great passengers, and I got a free burrito and a Coke from Santana's. It was a nice way to end the evening.

1 comment:

Shazam! said...

THere is something called a "welfare check", typically for people who havn't seen their elderly neighbor for a few days, or a personal care assistant who might suspect their patient has some medical problem but doesn't have doc or a nurse to discuss it with. But it sounds like Gollum can take care of herself (feeding, bathing, cooking, toileting) and if she is capable of making her own decisions there may not be anything to do.

But just so you know, if you are ever worried about someone, you can call 911 for a "welfare check" and they will probably dispatch police or an EMS crew to check things out.