Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lost and Found

Had an interesting one last night.

I picked up a lady north of downtown who wanted to go to somewhere around 805 and Imperial. I didn't know if 94 had an 805 south exit, so I asked her, and she didn't know. No problem, we'd find the way.

The area south of 94 and east of the 5, going 10 miles or so, and north of the 54, is a blank spot for me. I've only been in the area a couple of times. Usually I can wing it and find a good route on the fly. And I don't have GPS since I've been forbidden to make a laptop mount in my new taxi -- for reasons that have never been explained. I have a mapbook, but after using GPS I feel like using a paper book is beneath me. Call it technology snobbery.

I took 5 south to 94 east and when I came to the 15 south exit, I asked her again how her feelings were about an 805 south exit, because if there isn't one, I could try 15. She said 15 "is better," just exit Imperial from there. So I took 15 south to discover there's no Imperial exit.

It's incredibly rare for me to get lost, and in truth, I don't get lost, it's more like having no clue of how to get from where I am to a precise destination. I've never actually come to a spot where I didn't know where I was. All the same, I got a sinking feeling. I know many other cab drivers, and to a man they would all laugh at me for feeling bad about not getting somebody straightaway to their destination. They're a fairly careless bunch, not minding how a customer might feel. Perhaps I'm too caring. Who knows? I always felt that when a meter is running at more than $2 per mile, I have an obligation to find a good route, especially when, as easy as that usually is, it's the trickiest part of the job (meaning it's so damned easy it should at least be done well.) I feel like I should know the best way, or at least some damned way, and don't like it when I don't. Enough said.

When I took Ocean View, not finding the Imperial exit, and knowing there would be little chance of getting back up to Imperial if we went any further, she politely objected. I had to explain that it was Ocean View or we might run into the 5 and then we've wasted major amounts of time; it would basically be a do-over.

Explaining and recapping everything we had already talked about, and giving her my reasoning, she said: "Oh." I went east on Ocean View, knowing the 805 is to the east and Imperial was not far to the north. She immediately said she recognized where she was and to just keep going on Imperial. When I told her we're on Ocean View, not Imperial, she politely disagreed.

She continued to give directions the rest of the way, which I ignored entirely. The somewhat lost is not well served by listening to the entirely lost. When we arrived at her destination I gave her $5 off the meter amount, saying I should have known better and the problems were my fault. She was very nice and thanked me for a safe ride.

I discovered later that there is an 805 south exit from the 94. Live and learn -- and I'll try to plead my case about getting my technology back into my car. The cab company owner is a Luddite. I'll work on him.

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