Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ana, and going to HQ

I still haven't had the discussion with the cab company owner about Ana, the worst ride thief we've ever had. My last post about her is here.The bottom line is I avoid going to HQ like it's the plague. The problems with going to HQ are as follows:

1. I have to park several blocks away because the owner likes to come out of the HQ building and examine the car. If the car's not there, no spot inspection. Some days he's so nice it's like he's my grandfather, telling me he's glad I'm driving for the company (as an independent contractor). The next time, he'll run a finger along the quarter panel of the taxi and give a lecture about keeping the cars clean.

2. Often an office worker, usually a woman in her low 20s, will come out with a clipboard and "inspect" the car. No offense intended against young women, but y'all don't know the first thing about cars, and I don't like having my taxi evaluated by somebody with zero knowledge.

3. Often an office worker will be sent out to administer a "sniff test." I'm not making this up. A young lady will walk out and up to the car, open a door, stick in her head and sniff. If it's not up to the fragrancy standards of the corporation, the driver will be asked to clean the inside of the car and buy some air freshener. This is humiliating and I don't wish to be subjected to it -- and my car is always clean and always has a new air freshener.

4. If it's inspection day, you may get wrangled into helping clean or even repair cars. I don't mind helping out as part of the team, but if I can avoid it, I certainly will. I drive, I don't twist wrenches.

5. The "uniform". Two years ago a uniform policy was thrown at us, which basically means we need to look neat, clean, and professional. I think the official rules call for black pants and a solid color shirt with a collar. No hats unless they have no writing or promotional stuff on them. I generally conform, but I wear a San Diego baseball cap. Some days the owner sees me with it and he says nothing. Other days I get scolded. I don't take scolding very well.

Our half-joke is that the owner is bi-polar. We even try to gather intelligence as to his mood before we make an appearance at HQ. If another driver just came from there, we'll ask him about the owner's mood. If it's good, we'll rush over to do some paperwork or whatever sort of HQ business might be outstanding. It's much better to appear at HQ when the owner is in a good mood.

6. My "new" taxi, which my cab partners and I got last September with 212,000 miles on it, has had front suspension work done on it at least four times. The owner let slip a comment to me that he thinks my partners are hard on the car. They're not. Generally speaking, whatever happens to the car gets blamed on the drivers. I don't actually hold this against the owner, because we have several meatballs driving for us who have created a bad impression for all of us.

7. Any time spent at HQ is time I'm not making money on the streets. It's a waste of time.

8. Some of the office workers, like Louie, our female, night dispatcher nicknamed for the Danny DeVito character in the TV show Taxi, is in such a foul mood all the time it's a chore to be in the same room with her. This is to be avoided.

9. Our HQ is in a busy part of San Diego. Traffic is usually a mess.

If I have to visit HQ, which is usually only for dropping off work requests for the cab, I do it at 3 a.m., when only a single dispatcher is there. This strategic timing avoids all of the problems I listed above.

Also, Ana has been a model cab driver for over a month. Somebody must have leaked to her that problems were headed her way if she didn't improve. I may not have to do anything.

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