Sunday, August 24, 2008

Good customers, but a difficult ride

One day last week I went out to the cab to start my shift and found a note on the dash: Brake lights not working. I checked, and found that the main lights were out, but the third in the rear window was working. That was enough to get me through my shift. Cops usually give a warning for that, and worst case scenario I get a fix-it ticket, with no points on my license.

I dropped by HQ on my way to work, glad to find nobody there except the dispatcher, and filled out a work request for the brake lights. I also made a note of a belt squeal that's driving me crazy. I found out later that my daytime cab partner has had the squeal worked on three times already, and it's quiet for two days then comes back.

My first ride of the day was a family of four -- mom, dad, and two noisy kids. Traffic was heavy, the kids were a huge distrction, and the parents were asking tourist questions (normally I enjoy this). On top of this, it was a hot day, requiring AC, and the engine has been overheating with the AC on. For a week or so I've been using AC while watching the temp gauge, shutting it off for a few minutes to cool the engine, then turning it on again.

Now I find myself in heavy traffic and I'm concerned about having only one, small brake light. I'd hate to get rear-ended. Answering all the family's questions, and trying to tune out the yelling of the little kids, I'm trying to drive on the freeway in heavy, stop-and-go traffic while using the brake lights as little as possible, and at the same time cycling the AC to keep the engine cool. It was a real workout.

In the midst of this, a CHP cruiser came up behind me. Now I've got all of the above things going on, plus there's a good chance of getting pulled over because of the brake lights. I gently maneuvered into another lane and let the cop go by, fiddling with the AC and explaining that Sea World is just north of the airport and, yes, Old Town is a nice place to visit because of the good restaurants, shopping, and the State Park.

I got them to their hotel in Mission Valley without getting ticketed and without burning up the engine. They never knew about the drama.

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