Saturday, September 29, 2007

Argument over Reed

I got Reed tonight, a regular customer who is semi-psychotic, smells bad, and throws a Class A fit (in public) if his hand is not held while he shuffles from the restaurant to the taxi. You can read about Reed here. I'd really like to smack the hell out of him. I can't do that, of course, but I can fantasize.

Tonight I was on a lucrative stand that was producing $30 rides all night. It was busy and everyone was making money. It's more than that, though. There was a good rhythm. I was getting great rides that were quick and mostly freeway. Then I'd return to our zone and get another one within five or ten minutes. Some nights we sit for hours between fares, dreaming of nights like tonight.

Then Reed came along, the bastard.

He provoked a radio fight from me, which is extremely rare. I believe it was my second in over two years of driving. I was second on the stand that was moving, and the first guy up got belled to pick up Reed. It was a definitive bell: "Pick up Reed at XYZ restaurant." The rules say you must pick up the fare you're assigned to (it's actually a law). If a driver wants to refuse, all he has to do is say so on the radio, and the punishment is banishment from service for one hour, after which time he can check back in on the radio.

Naturally, the first guy up didn't do it that way. Instead he called that he picked up a flag at that same restaurant, but it wasn't Reed, "and can you please send the next cab for Reed." The dispatcher called my number. I took issue with that. Refusing a bell is a one hour banishment. Of course, the driver tried to circumvent this by claiming to have picked up a flag. He was lying. We call it a ghost ride, where you call in a fare when you're actually driving around empty, staying to streets where it's unlikely to see our cabs.

I asked for a rule clarification on the radio: "Is there no penalty for picking up a flag when you've been given a specific bell?"

The dispatcher kept saying "10-9?", which is the code for, "Please repeat, I can't make out what you're saying."

The barbarians were in league against me. So I said, on air, "If there are no penalties, then I'm getting a flag too, and can you please send the next cab for Reed?" I then immediately went and picked up Reed. As much as I hate the bastard with a burning passion, he still deserves a ride home. While I was watching him, unamused, shuffle at a snail's pace toward my taxi, I went in and spoke with the bartender. I confirmed that no other cabs had stopped there. None all night, in fact.

I drove Reed for the entire $4 distance and wished him well. The poor weirdo has no idea the sorts of battles that occur among drivers just so they can avoid him.

A couple of hours later I found myself parked behind the driver who called in the ghost ride (and fucked me). I got out of my car; he got out of his. A third driver was already outside, and when he saw us get out, he said: "Round 1, ding!" The driver immediately tried to explain. They all do that. They act like barbarian scum behind the wheel, never hesitating to steal money from the next guy, but on stand they're perfect gentlemen. I told him he was scum and I don't appreciate him messing around with me and costing me money. He tried to protest, but I went back to my car and got in.

There's no point trying to force someone with bad character to behave in a civilized manner. And, the last guy who popped a scum like him ended up losing his job and paying $10k in medical bills (broken nose that required two surgeries). Avoiding Reed isn't worth that.

The streets are mostly lawless, and there isn't a whole lot I can do about it.

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