Thursday, July 31, 2008

The new guy

We got a new driver early last week. About 40 years old, he looks normal, but he is a little odd. During his training period, where he rides with an experienced driver, I was on stand with him. Me, his trainer, and him broke out my football, the leather one this time, and it turns out this guy has a hell of an arm. He claims to have played quarterback through high school, and I don't doubt this. I told him I don't care what kind of cabbie he becomes, just stick around so we have one great arm in the bunch.

Eric is his name, and he had a doozy of a first night with his own taxi. I just came on duty when I got belled to a street corner. Then I heard the excitement.

    Eric: 22

    Dispatch: 22

    Eric: There's a flag at XYZ address. You sent me here, right?

    Disp, who is the ever impatient Louie: No, no, no! I sent you to ABC, not XYZ. You aren't picking them up, are you?

    Eric: Ummm, no, not really.

Louie let him have it. She red him the riot act and then some. The trainer had trained him well, though, and he handled it magnificently. He was told that Louie is the meanest woman he'll ever deal with -- under no circumstances do you fight with her. Let her win, swallow your pride, and go with the flow. Eric got to feel the heat on his very first ride!

Now, three out of four guys would have taken the flag and ignored the bell and let Louie complain all she wants. Eric wanted to do it right. I do it right, as well, and respect guys who care enough to get the right customers.

Eric said fine, and went and got the correct people. Meanwhile, I was belled to the flag he had discovered, and when I picked them up I asked about the other cab. They had heard him getting worked over by Louie and sympathized. "He said he just started, and we were going to be his first customers. He's a really nice guy." I agreed, and we had a nice ride across town.

Later that night, Eric made headlines again. All I heard at the time was, "22 calling, I'm coming to the office." At a cab stand a half hour later I asked if anyone knew about what happened to him. He had been sent for a PD call, and picked up two drunk navy guys, both of whom vomited all over the back seat of his cab. Poor guy! Talk about a trial by fire! He gets Louie at her finest, and gets the vomit. In my three and a half years, I've never had a vomit incident inside the car -- well, twice, but they both brought their own bags to barf in. One or two people have done it out the window.

Now, two nights later, he's still working. Some guys would have quit after a night like his first night.

One odd thing about Eric: He doesn't say the word "the" on the radio. One of our drivers commented about this while sitting around a cab stand. We all paid attention for a few hours, then compared notes later. Nobody has ever heard him utter the word. How weird is that? It's okay, because his throwing arm more than makes up for it.

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