Thursday, June 21, 2007

Recent rides for Thursday

I drove two Navy guys from a residential address to the Gaslamp Quarter. They wanted to go to the Rock Bottom Brewery on 4th and G, so I took B St to 4th Ave, then went south. Still half a block from G, there was a red light and I had to stop. As soon as the car stopped, they both got out. One came to the driver window and began to pay. Then the light went green and everyone except me started moving forward. A bicycle cop came up to the passenger window.

Cop: Hey, cabbie, you can't drop off here.

Me: I didn't "drop off" here.

Cop: I'm watching you drop off.

Me: No, you're not. I stopped for traffic and my customers jumped out.

Cop: Well, you can't drop off here.

Customer to cop: I'm sorry, officer, we asked him to stop.

Me: No, they didn't ask me to stop.

I got my money, about $20, and everything was fine after that. If I had a nickel for every time a customer put me into a tight spot with the police, I'd have a much better balance sheet.

Also, I drove a middle-aged man from Manchester, England, who was looking for a "specialized" hair dryer for his wife. We went to three beauty supply places before we found what he was looking for. He said the wife already has a hair dryer, but it doesn't have enough power. "And we must keep the wife happy," he said. "I learned that long ago."

He was a fun customer for me. I asked if he was a Man-U fan, and he said he has executive level tickets (season tickets). They cost him just over 7k pounds. Wow. After San Diego they're going to Vegas to see a Manchester fighter take on a Mexican American. He said he went to Vegas in January to see another English figthter, and that time he brought "the lads." This time, he said, the wife came with. "Can't leave her out of everything," he laughed.

Another one wasn't a ride, but it illustrates bad customer behavior, even when they're not my customers. I was out of zone, parked on the street in front of a coffee shop. I was taking a little break, relaxing and sipping an Americano. A group of four tourists came up to the car.

Guy: Can you take us to Basic?

Me: No, I can't pick up here.

Guy: Why not?

Me: I'm not licensed for pickup in this area. The fine is $2400 if I get caught.

Guy: We have cash, and I'll give you a nice tip.

Me: I can't.

Guy: Can you call a cab for us?

I don't like conversations like these. I don't like taking all the time to explain how the taxi business works. People think my two-way radio is connected to all San Diego taxis. I gave them the phone number for a cab company who can pick up. They called, and right after calling, went to a guy drinking coffee at an outdoor table on the sidewalk. He told them Basic was three blocks away. So they started walking. I'm still drinking my coffee, curbside, when a taxi arrives right behind me. He got out and started looking around, then he dialed somebody on his cell phone. He got screwed, and even if the customers had waited for him, it would have been a $2.60 ride, or so. Not all tourists are like them, but enough are to give all of them a bad name.

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