Friday, November 9, 2007

Thursday night rides

British guy notices bad driving

I picked up a British guy going to the airport. He's in San Diego for a conference, and is going to LA this evening to give a speech at another conference, then flying back. His airline ticket said American Airlines, but usually when people go from San Diego to LA, it's American Eagle, the commuter version of American. Since the ticket said American, I dropped him off at the American gate at terminal two, but I waited as he tried to check his bag at the curbside check in, just in case.

A few seconds later he turned and looked at me, then came back with his bag. It was the commuter terminal, according to the skycaps. Odd that the ticket didn't say American Eagle. Anyway, en route from T2 to the commuter terminal, a shuttle van turned into us. I saw him coming, honked, and gave him some room.

Guy: That's the third time somebody did that to us on this trip. Does that happen a lot?

Me: Unfortunately, yes. Sometimes they signal, and then swerve into you, but usually they don't even bother signalling. I always drive with my thumb on the horn button.

Near collision with Mr. Fire Hydrant

On the way back to our taxi zone from the airport, I was doing 65 in the fast lane on I-5 southbound, with no traffic in front of me. The limit is 65, so I always drive it when there's room. A Red Cab was driving much slower, probably 40, in the next lane over. As I zoomed up on him, he moved into my lane. I had to slam on the brakes, not quite hard enough to start the ABS. The huge yellow hood of the Crown Vic dove straight down. The Police Interceptor didn't do that.

I moved one lane to the right and went by. As I pulled even with him, I saw him looking at me and waving in a friendly manner. It was Mr. Fire Hydrant, our driver who had gotten himself fired for running over a hydrant. This is the guy who couldn't find a Marriott hotel after working for weeks. Once an idiot, always an idiot. (Hydrant incident here; navigational challenges here)

The "trampoline"

I picked up a sailor from a bar, and noticed he was walking with a limp, and one hand was in a cast. He said he was on leave, back home in Michigan, two months ago, when he got in a bar fight. It was him and his brother against two other guys. He had a broken hand and ankle.

Me: Doesn't the Navy punish you for that, too?

Him: Normally they would, but I told them I fell off a trampoline.

That's clever. He said he didn't mind getting hurt because the Navy goes easy on injured personnel. After 30 days medical leave, he was put on duty, but all he had to do was 3-hours per day "watch", where he kept an eye on the Navy drunk tank, making sure nobody injured themselves.

Customer on the radio

I drove another Navy guy, with two Navy buddies. After I started driving, he picked up my mic and said: "What is this, car 92?" I cringed.

Guy: 92

Dispatch: 92

Guy: 92 to the Star Bar, downtown.

Dispatch: 10-4

It was a flawless example of radio usage. The guy handed me the mic and said: "This ain't my first rodeo." That was damned funny.

A few blocks later we passed a group of women walking along the sidewalk. The guy said to his buddies: "Those are whores. Fifty bucks each, probably." I said: "That's cheaper than dating." The guy: "You're all right. What's your name?"

Stan, a real ass

My last ride was a real winner. It was Stan, a regular, about 35, alcoholic, usually going from one or another dive bar to his condo in downtown San Diego. I've driven him 10 times or so, and he never remembers me. It's usually a $16 ride, and he rarely tips. This time I was belled to a residential address and was surprised to see Stan stagger out to the car. He's usually at a bar. He was on his cellie, and when he got in the back seat, he left the door opened and asked me to wait a minute.

Him, to phone: Am I staying or going?

Woman's voice, from phone: You better just go.

Him: I want to spend the night with you.

Woman: Well I'm not spending the night with you, so you better go.

Him, to me: I guess we can go.

He wanted to stop at an all-night diner to get food to-go. I stopped and said I'd be happy to wait. He went inside, then came out and asked me if I wanted anything. "Anything you want," he said. "It's on me." After thinking for a few seconds, I said, "How about a Coke?" He went back inside to add that to the order. He came back out, presumably to wait with me, rather than inside.

Him: I'm not paying for you to wait here, am I?

Me: Yeah. It's only $5 for 15 minutes. It's not much.

Him: I'm not paying for waiting.

I pointed to the sign on the dash that says "Waiting time, $20 per hour"

Him: I'm taking the cost of breakfast off the tab.

Me: What do you mean by that?

Him: You heard me.

Me: Are you saying you're not going to pay the full meter amount?

Him: You got it.

Me: Then I'm not driving you home.

He ignored me and walked into the diner. Not five seconds later he came back out and got in the cab. "Take me home," he said.

Me: What about the food?

Him: Don't worry about it. And I'm not paying for the waiting.

Me: You have to pay what the meter says.

Him: Fuck you, I'm not paying.

By now I was two blocks from the diner. I pulled over.

Me: If you're going to say 'fuck you', you can get out right here.

Him: That's what I'm going to do. Fuck you.

Me: That'll be $5.60 (the amount showing on the meter)

Him: Fuck you.

Me: I'm calling the police.

Him: Go ahead, fuck you.

I got out of my car as he started to walk away, down the sidewalk. Just then a cop drove by going the other direction. I whistled and held out my arm: "Officer!" He swung a u-turn and pulled in behind me and jumped out.

Cop: What's wrong?

Me: I've got a refusal to pay.

Cop: Close your door and stand on the sidewalk.

Another squad car pulled in behind the first one, and that cop got out and spoke with the first cop and Stan. The second one came over to me and asked what he owes, and I said $5.60. He went back, and he made Stan get out his wallet and get some money out. He walked back to me and gave me a $10 bill. I gave him $5 and said the guy could keep the change. Then I left.

I got on the radio immediately and let the other drivers know that Stan wasn't in a paying mood tonight, so they should think carefully before picking him up when he calls again.

I went 10-21 (radio code for "gone for the day") right after the Stan incident. It was 2:40 a.m., about my usual quitting time. I left the radio on as I drove home, just in case Stan attempted to get another cab. As I was filling my gas tank at the station near my apartment, I heard one of our drivers announce a flag from XYZ diner to downtown. That had to be Stan. It was our driver who is such an asshole a lot of regulars refuse to ride with him. I never thought I'd find somebody who refused to ride with me, but was okay with the asshole. Tomorrow night I'll ask if he had any problems getting paid.

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