Friday, January 11, 2008

'Driving in circles'

Tonight was dog slow, but I was the lucky guy. Sometimes I'm the Town Clown, but tonight when everybody else was getting $6 rides, I was getting $25 rides, and towards the end of the evening, had four that went to $35 and above. I even went way down to Club Caribe, which is in Bonita, not far from the Mexican border. I felt vindicated for the fork problems earlier.

I learned from another driver that the Russian Whore has a sister, who is also believed to be a hooker. I've only driven the "old" one, who is about 25. The younger one is supposed to be even better looking. The last time I drove her (the only time so far), she asked why I have to announce my destination on the radio -- dead giveaway, along with her destinations, as to her profession. I mentioned this to another driver tonight, and he said he started doing what I had planned to -- to say a general neighborhood when he calls in the ride, rather than an exact address. Anything to help two stunningly attractive Russian hookers.

I should mention that driver speculation is wrong on occasion. We thought the Iraqis got fired, and that wasn't true. Maybe these are just really attractive young women who go to different residential addresses every night to play scrabble. And maybe I'm the Pope.

One of my last rides of the night was interesting. I was on a naval base for a pickup at a building I'd never heard of before. The navy gives all buildings a number, and while I could find one number up and one down, I was having trouble finding the exact building. While I circled the two nearby ones, a siren and cherries lit up behind me. Navy cops pulled me over. A gruff civilian cop (contracted to work on base -- not a San Diego cop) demanded my license, cab permit and navy permit. He wrote my name into a small notebook. And, as this was going on, my fare spotted me and started walking towards the car. He said to her rather meanly: "I need you to wait over there. Don't approach the car."

Him: You know why I pulled you over?

Last time it was for "unsafe operation of a motor vehicle" after I was spotted with six inches of seat belt hanging out of the back door. I believe even the Navy would call that chickenshit.

Me: No.

Him: Driving in circles.

Me, after picking my jaw up off the ground: Is that illegal?

I was almost ready to tell him to keep my navy badge because this was going to be my last trip onto a base. All the petty nonsense we have to deal with is almost unbelievable. I love the US Navy, but the administrative side of it is FUBAR, and that's no exaggeration.

Him: It's legal. I'm trying to help you. Which building do you need?

In the end I didn't need his "help" because his siren and lights caught the attention of my customer, a young woman who was completely baffled by the officer's behavior, as I was.

I called in my ride on the two-way radio, per protocol:

Me: I picked up going to the Gaslamp Quarter. And for all drivers, apparently it's illegal to, quote, drive in circles, unquote, on federal property.

Another driver: You've gotta quit whippin' donuts.

Me: Copy that.

My last ride of the night involved the police, too. This one was what we refer to as a police call, where the police call for a cab to drive home some unfortunate soul who has run afoul of the law. These are usually long rides and even though the customers are never too happy at losing their car to the police or whatever their troubles may be, they're usually nice to me. They always have some interesting story to tell, too.

This one was for a young woman, maybe 25, who was pulled over for driving 55 in a 50 zone. Seems unlikely, but that's what she said. She was breathalized (sp?), and passed, but she said she was too shaken by the situation to drive home. She wasn't paralyzed with fear or anything, but she said she had been drinking, and who knows? Maybe another cop will pull her over and the blood alcohol level will show up differently? It was a $27 ride, $30 with tip.

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