Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday photos

A two-cab call.

Looking through some kind of lens on the sidewalk in the Gaslamp Quarter.

The back of a Ford Expedition. This is an Oakland Raiders fan. They're all criminals.

Highway 163 in San Diego

Getting on 163 northbound from downtown, where the highway starts, is always gridlock. And the reason is clear: five lanes merge into 1, then that 1 lane gets on the northbound direction. It's extremely poor planning.

Trapped on the 163 on-ramp, as usual.

The 163 is a convenient connector from downtown San Diego to Mission Valley, and it runs all the way to its end at the I-15 freeway. Getting on is a nightmare. There are two lanes coming from 11th street in downtown, plus two lanes from I-5 northbound, plus a fifth lane of traffic coming from the Park Blvd area. It's whacked. City planners should be ashamed of themselves.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gettin' it on: East Coast v. West Coast

I just drove a guy to a hip hop club well outside of my zone, and en route he explained that he prefers his home town, Washington D.C. to Southern California because "gettin' it on" in D.C. is easier.

Him: Out here a guy can't have three or four girlfriends.

Me: Why not?

Him: It's too spread out. You can't see one girl for a few hours, then cross town and see another. It takes too much time.

He says the girls and the clubs in D.C. are concentrated, so it's much easier. A married guy in San Diego who wants a little something on the side, he said, can't do much because of this problem. In D.C., he claimed, everybody has several girls. I suggested he get a job with the D.C. board of tourism.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tis the season for Zonis

Zonis are people from Arizona, and San Diego gets flooded with them during the summer. Many of my customers are zonis, and I call them "heat refugees" when they tell me they're from Phoenix. They get a kick out of it. If it was 118 degrees (48 c) where you live, you'd be fleeing, too. When I take zonis to the airport I usually ask if they'd prefer the windows up and the AC on. Zonis almost always say the same thing: "Leave the windows down. We want to feel the last of the cool air. It's 115 where we're going."

One of people I drove tonight was a pleasant guy, about 50, going to the airport with no luggage. He was flying Southwest. Those things, taken together, usually mean Phoenix.

Him: How did you know?

Me: No luggage and you're flying Southwest. And we get a lot of heat refugees this time of year. (It's such a tired old line to run on people, but it's new to them.)

Him (laughs): Yeah, I get out here as often as I can in the summer. I'd move here, but then where would I vacation?

Thursday afternoon photos

Condo tower in downtown San Diego (2nd & J, I think)

Harbor Dr westbound near the Hyatt

Today was the first day of Comic-Con, the international comic convention. It's for comic book fans, plus science fiction books and films, and the like. It's our largest convention, at 125,000.

More of the same...

'I might be mentally ill'

My last ride of the night was Scooter, a regular who's always plastered. He works at a lawn and patio store in my zone, and every cab driver around here knows him. All the bartenders do, too. He's usually so drunk he can hardly walk, and tonight was no exception. Sometimes he's wasted when we pick him up at work, meaning he drinks on the job. Some of the other workers at that place drink heavily, too. Be careful where you buy your potting soil.

When I got the bell the dispatcher said to go to a bar to pick up Scooter. The other driver I was next to on the cab stand said: "Think he's drunk enough for a 20?" We all know that when Scooter's really hammered, he gives a $20 for his short rides (usually $6 on the meter). I responded: "It's after 1, so hopefully."

I brought him from the bar to his house. I didn't run the meter, and he didn't need to tell me the address. On the way there he was mumbling to himself. I caught, "I might be mentally ill."

Me: You think so?

Him: Maybe. I drink so much...

Sad thing, he may be right. Alcoholism and mental illness go together quite often. He gave me $20 and said he'd be out again tomorrow night, then literally staggered off towards his apartment building.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Twin lung infections...

...self diagnosed. The nightmare began July 8, and it's still going strong. Maybe I should see a doctor. In the mean time, I'm working most nights, but I've been leaving the laptop at home. I don't have the energy to get set up every night. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Rainbow from Harbor Dr

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Monday, July 16, 2007

V8 Beatle

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J St and 8th, near Petco Park

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Monday, July 9, 2007


I made a mistake on my last ride. It was a guy going from a residential address near downtown out to his house in Chula Vista. He was drunk, and carrying a motorcycle helmet (too drunk to ride home). He said he would give me directions, and things began well. The mistake was starting the trip before getting an exact street address. I know better, but the guy seemed so coherent I decided to let him direct me.

On I-5 southbound he fell fast asleep and was difficult to roust. He told me to take 54 east, which I did. I checked to see that he was awake, and went a few miles. When I asked which exit, since he didn't volunteer, he said Telegraph Canyon Road. I didn't recall that road crossing the 54, but since I don't use 54 often, I figured it would be okay. Sure enough, 54 ended without crossing the road.

I pulled off and asked for the exact address. Surprisingly he knew it, or he knew some address. There was no way to tell if it was right.

I used Google Maps and found where the guy messed up with the directions. By then the meter was $55, and we were sitting in a 7-11 parking lot, about $25 from his actual residence. I told him the fare was getting expensive, and if he needed an ATM, now would be the time. He went inside, then came out, stuffing bills into his wallet.

Me: It's going to run about $80. Did you get enough?

Him: $80? I only have $40. Why is it $80?

Me: Because you gave me bad directions.

Him: Oh.

Me: So you'll need to go in and use the ATM again, right? (Talking to drunks is just like talking to little kids.)

Him: Ahhhh, this is all it would let me take out. I don't have any more money.

Me: Well, I'm not taking you home for half price.

He handed me the $40 and took his helmet out of the back seat.

Me: So, how are you getting home?

Him: (shrugged)

Me: Can I call somebody for you? A friend, relative? Do you have a roommate?

Him: No, there's nobody.

The 7-11 cashier was outside having a smoke by then, and was watching us with amusement. When he saw me climb into the cab, and my customer wasn't, he wasn't so amused.

Cashier: You can't just leave him here.

Me: Yes, I can.

Cashier: No, you can't.

Me: Yes, I can. He's a nice guy. You'll get along well, I'm sure.

As I drove away I heard some yelling, but couldn't make it out.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I got a tip from a Frenchman!

(There's a first time for everything.)

New taxi laws

I'd like to see a number of new laws enacted:

1. No whistling while walking down the sidewalk.

2. You may not walk towards a taxi unless you want a ride.

3. People may not raise their hands or point at anything while on the sidewalk.

4. Shouting "Taxi!" without the intention of hiring the nearest taxi carries a minimum penalty of five years in prison. Hard labor. Turning large rocks into small ones. Digging holes and filling them in again. No TV, no lifting weights, no conjugal visits except from people named Bubba.

5. No civilian cars may be painted yellow. That is reserved for taxis.

6. There is a $20 fine for climbing into a taxi wearing too much perfume.*

7. There is a $20 fine for climbing into a taxi wearing too little deodorant.*

It has been that kind of night.

There were two bright spots, though. I drove two fun people from London, who were in town for a convention on motivational speaking. They are with The gentleman is a motivation speaker, and he and his lovely companion seemed more like rock stars than business people. I checked their website, and it seems they really are on the fun side of the business, rather than stuffy biz people. Good for them.

The other bright spot was a couple from Texas who flew their twin-engine Beech to San Diego for a meeting of the Flying Physicians Association. The organization's purpose is to promote "safety, education, research and human interest projects relating to aviation."

*If I didn't already know why the public are called The Great Unwashed, tonight would have clinched it.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A fast-slow night

We're getting a lot of calls tonight, but nobody's making money. Lot of short runs and cancellations. Some nights are like that. So far tonight I've had people from Monterey, Calif, New Jersey, Phoenix (escaping the 115-degree heat), and Orange County.

The only interesting thing of note so far is happening at our busiest cab stand. We're beside a hotel, and a second floor occupant of the hotel is watching porn on a big-screen TV with the blinds open. A small crowd has gathered on the sidewalk to watch. Lots of bad humor from the cabbies...

Friday photos

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Friday, July 6, 2007

YouTube videos

I placed a link on the sidebar to my YouTube videos. Most of them are related to auto or motorcycle racing (I spend all day driving, then go home and watch other people drive; I know it's odd). I have a few great crashes, so be sure to check them out. I recommend the ones labeled "Mat Mladin" and "GP2 crash". These are my favorites.

In the near future I'll be adding a few more links to taxi blogs. I missed a few. If you're a taxi blogger who links to me, and I haven't yet linked to you -- nothing personal. I'll get you included very soon.


I just dropped off two guys, probably in their upper 40s, at the border crossing with Mexico. They wanted the main San Ysidro crossing. I don't drive into Mexico with the cab, of course, so I dropped at the foot crossing. They plan to take a TJ cab on the other side, then visit one of the whorehouses.

On the drive down (15 minute drive from downtown San Diego), they told me about a shakedown a few years back. They were walking through downtown TJ, and decided to stop at a pharmacy. The "pharmacist" was offering Viagra for $1 a pill. On a whim (they claim), they each bought two to see what they would do. After walking a short distance from the pharmacy, two TJ cops stopped them and asked to see the contents of their pockets. They confiscated the Viagra and said they were going to jail if they didn't voluntarily part with the $500 they had between them. So they paid.

Just before they got out of my cab, they were putting money in their shoes. "Only keep a small amount in your pocket, and the rest in your shoe," they said. I've been to TJ many times, and I've never been shaken down. I've never tried to buy meds without a prescription, either.

They wanted to pay with a credit card, but I'm a cash-only cab. I offered to give them a cash receipt. "No, thanks. Can't have the wives finding receipts that say Tijuana."

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Cabbie fights Glasgow terrorists

From Scotland's Daily Record:

    Battling taxi driver Alex McIlveen faced down the Glasgow Airport terror suspects ... and his courage cost him his favourite pair of trainers and a £30 parking fine.

    Dad-of-two Alex punched and kicked the two men after they crashed a Jeep Cherokee loaded with gas canisters into the door of Terminal One.

    The 45-year-old booted one of the suspects, whose body was covered in flames, as hard as he could between the legs.

    But the man didn't appear to feel the blow, and a police doctor told Alex later that he'd damaged a tendon in his foot.

    After the drama, police confiscated Alex's trainers for forensic tests.

This is the best part:

    "Then I kicked him with full force right in the balls but he didn't go down. He just kept on babbling his rubbish.

    "I couldn't believe that he was still standing. I know I would have been floored by that kind of kick."

Monday, July 2, 2007

Lies, damned lies, and some photos

UPDATE: I spoke with the owner on Monday, and apparently the whole thing (below) is a colossal miscommunication. I have some suspicions about that, but it seems the owner did make a concerted effort to supply my partners and I with a replacement car. Also, he was under the impression I was planning to take off last night, and that's why there was no car designated for me. Hmmmm.

It's Sunday and I have a forced day off. When Andrew called the office early this morning to get a loaner car, the dispatcher didn't know what to do. So Andrew drove to HQ and picked up a car that was sitting in the lot. He went until 10:30 or so when the owner of the cab company called and ordered him back. The car's normal driver had arrived for work and needed the car.

The rest is very murky, but I lost at least $200 in the mix. Apparently the owner got angry that Andrew had taken the car, even though no harm was done, except for perhaps 30 minutes of lost work for the car's regular driver. The owner told them that none of the three of us (who share car 95) would be able to drive again until 95 is ready. That's a breach of contract, for starters.

I called HQ and was lied to by the dispatcher who answered the phone. Poor bastard was told to prevent the three of us from reaching the owner.

Him: He's (the owner) not in the office right now.

Me: Did he leave instructions for which car I should drive tonight?

Him: There are no cars available right now.

Me: That's not true. Lots of guys take Sunday nights off.

Him: That's what I was told.

Me: Where is he?

Him: He doesn't work Sundays.

Me: I've worked almost every Sunday for two and a half years, and he's almost always there. I hear him on the radio.

Him: I don't know anything about that.

Me: Well, let's page him.

Him: His pager isn't working right now.

Me: Let's call him on his cell phone.

Him: His cell phone isn't working right now.

Me: It's kind of sad that you would lie for him.

Out of curiosity (and anger at having been fucked out of at least $200), I went out to our zone and found a place where we often leave cabs. We keep some at HQ, but many partnerships leave their vehicles in the zone on the street. I found seven available cars, just sitting there unused. I photographed them in case the owner wants to continue the lies. I'd like to note that I have the owner's super-secret pager number and cell phone number, but I decided not to call directly, as he likes to use HQ as a buffer. That was very nice of me, by the way.

Now that I got that out of my system, how about some photos from Saturday?

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Moments after two SUVs collided at 6th Ave and F St, Gaslamp Quarter

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Seaport Village

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

A few good rides, and the car died

My Income

A guy from Mexico City asked me how much I make per hour and what the cab lease was, and how much I spend on fuel. I told him the truth on all accounts. What's the big deal? When I dropped him off, the fare was $16. He gave me $40, and when I asked if he was sure about that, he said, "Yes." I guess he thought my earnings are low. I'll take pity tips any day.


I drove a guy who is a civilian contractor for the Navy, in San Diego for a month or so to work on several ships in port. He's born-and-raised American, but he lives in the Philippines now.

Me: What do you like about the Philippines?

Him: My kids wear uniforms to school, and they respect their teachers and parents.

That's a huge contrast to here, where uppity brats sue their own parents and schools. Discipline is considered abuse, which is not helping the situation. He also said he pays $185 per month rent on a huge, four-bedroom apartment with tile bathrooms, marble countertops, and lots of other decent stuff. Sounds intriguing.

Car is dead

The cab died at 10:30 tonight, and there are no loaners available. I called my cab partner to let him know tomorrow morning will be "interesting", and I wished him luck. The car wouldn't shift from 1st to 2nd (it could have been 2-to-3; it was at 25mph, and it's a 4-speed automatic). Instead of upshifting, there is a crunching, grinding noise and the car lurches almost to a stop. Something is seriously wrong.