Sunday, March 30, 2008
He lives in Western Wyoming and leads hunting trips into the mountains, mostly for elk. We talked about this for several minutes, and I wish I could have recorded the conversation.
I have been to the mountains of Wyoming, and few places in the world are more beautiful. He and his brother-in-law use horses and pack mules to lead hunting parties in search of game. It sounded like a fantastic job -- completely the opposite of the 9-to-5 grind that so many people endure.
He talked about how elk behave, and how it differs from mule deer, another popular game animal in the mountains. Mule deer tend to be solitary animals, while elk are herd animals. He said with elk there are usually a dozen cows, more or less, with an obvious leading male. Also there are usually several younger males, who stay off to the sides of the main herd.
He said hunting during the rutting season is a unique experience, because the bull elk are strong and aggressive. He can call for an elk, and the bulls will reply. If he keeps calling, they often come straight for him, sometimes within 15 feet.
The guy and his family are from one of the most sparsely populated states, and from one of the most sparsely populated areas of that state. They were somewhat quiet and reserved. When they had all gotten out of the taxi and he bent down to the window and paid, he said: "Y'all have a nice town here."
I'm certain my writing doesn't do justice to the exchange. They were good folks from an extraordinary place few people get to see.
Monday, March 24, 2008
On stand I eventually made it to first in line and then picked up a flag, a guy going solo. He said to take him seven or eight blocks straight up the street. As we got near the cops and their blue and red lights, I told him there was a golf cart pulled over and I started laughing. As we drove by he said: "Hey, stop! Let me out." I asked if he knew the girls, and he said yes. He wasn't all that happy that I laughed at his friends. Oops. I got $4 for the ride.
Back on that stand I waited another twenty minutes or so and got a bell over the radio: "Police call at XYZ address." That was the golf cart people. I just couldn't get away from them, it seemed. I picked up the two ladies and brought them to Imperial Beach, which is a good run. The driver of the golf cart said she blew .075, just under the .08 minimum. They wouldn't let her continue driving, even though she passed, so the police called her a cab.
I asked what happened and he said he was on a two week vacation in Baja Mexico doing some off-road motorcycling. He crashed, breaking a rib and chipping a bone in his arm. He planned to sit for two days in the Holiday Inn, recuperating, and then fly back east to his home. He was in rough shape, but he had decided to take some sort of shuttle all the way up to San Diego rather than sit in a Mexican hospital.
I circled around the block slowly, since I was first in line, to see if anybody else was coming out of the bars (i.e. somebody not puking). Nobody was. But I saw a cab from another zone stop and pick up the puker. Good for him. He can come into our zone and steal a guy like than whenever he wants. I announced the ride theft on the radio, and several drivers responded that they were pleased with the outcome.
Then I'll try to renew my navy base pass. That took several months of fucking around last year, and I expect nothing different this time. The navy is a *unique* organization. They attract some of the best people, have a massive budget, and have some of the best equipment and technology in the world. It was the U.S. military, after all, that gave us the internet in September 1969. But they can't follow simple, well established, agreed upon rules for giving out a base pass.
I didn't ask what he did for a living because I didn't want to hear that daddy bought it for him or that he's an internet millionaire -- or some evasive answer that would mean he's a heroine salesman. One thing's for sure, he's no cabbie.
Example: We had a four-cab call for a large party at a nice hotel. She was the last of four, and I was penultimate. She arrived last, drove in front of the three other cabs, took the first people to walk out of the hotel, and sped away. She ignored our complaints on the radio.
She also calls on the radio that she's entering the zone about a mile before she actually is. Also, she calls clear several blocks before she arrives at her destination. The other trick she pulls is to call 10-21 (going home for the day), then drive around with her radio on and steal flags, off duty.
We complain about her on the radio, at each instance, but nothing gets done. Several other drivers nominated me to speak with the cab company owner in person because I have a good rapport with him. I'm going to explain the situation. If he won't change the woman's behavior, then the drivers will make her quit by stealing every ride she gets. I'll have a face-to-face confrontation with her before it comes to making her quit, though. Every Eastern European we get has to go through the same process (same for Middle Eastern drivers). They start out thinking they can do whatever they want, and they need to be shown that that's not acceptable.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The San Diego-Coronado Bridge was closed for three hours late Saturday and early yesterday while authorities negotiated with a 25-year-old man who threatened to jump from the span. Shortly after midnight, the man jumped and killed himself, authorities said.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Just as I came around the left hand turn before the straightaway leading to I8 in Mission Valley, the car nose-dived toward the front left, and there was an awful grinding noise. The car instantly pulled to the left, and I had to man-handle the wheel to keep it straight. I let off the gas, checked my mirrors and blindspot on the right, signaled, and managed to get onto the shoulder and stop. The right front suspension had broken. It wasn't until the car was on a flat bed tow truck with the wheel removed that I saw the inboard side of the A-arm had sheered off, along with the tie rod.
As soon as the piece(s) broke, the passenger in the back said calmly: "Are we losing parts?" As I was doing everything I could with the wheel to avoid hitting other cars, I said as calmly as I could: "Yes, it appears so." She was a real trooper. I thanked her for that. When I had the car stopped I called our dispatcher, who sent another cab to pick up the customer, and a tow truck for me. I waived the $16 showing on the meter so far, but said the cabbie who would bring her the rest of the way would run his meter. She tried to pay, but I wouldn't take the money.
I was given a loner car for the night, and by the end of the following day 92 was ready again. Surely that's a record for Fred, our mechanic.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Each driver is speculating on whether they'll stay working for the present company with the Crown Victorias, or make a switch to the Prius company. The Crown Vics can carry a lot more people and luggage, and have plenty of power for hills and overtaking, but with a 4.6 liter V8, they get about 15 mpg. The Prius drivers would have to give up a few rides because they're small, but the nightly fuel bill would be very low. All of this speculation is based on rumor. I'm going to wait and see what happens. If the new company comes to fruition, our income will drop with 12 additional vehicles competing for the same rides.
The stopwatch works well for the dispatchers, too. When I announce a no-go, they sometimes claim I couldn't have been there more than a minute or two. All argument ceases when I say: "I've been here precisely six minutes and eighteen seconds."
After a block and a half she said to stop and let her out. I spent five minutes trying to talk her out of it. I even offered a discount on the fare. I would have driven her for free, considering how drunk she was, but she didn't let me get that far. She knew her rights -- I couldn't make her stay in the car. She paid me the $3 fare and got out. I followed her back to her car (I think she was too drunk to notice a large yellow car keeping pace with her on the street).
As soon as she got behind the wheel of a mini-truck, I called the police. I gave the description of her and her truck, and the police dispatcher asked, "Is she just sitting in the truck, or is she driving it?" I asked her to hold the line. Within 10 seconds the truck was started, the headlights were on, and the truck was pulling into the driving lane. "She's driving." The dispatcher said, "Okay, I'll notify the nearest officer."
I never heard what happened, but I hope she got a nice, $8,000 DUI.
When we got to the border one of them had an interesting observation.
Serviceman, looking across the border fence into Mexico: Are they open?
Several seconds of silence...
Him: It looks kind of dark over there.
Me: I think Mexico is open 24 hours.
The fare was $38 and change; they gave me $45.
When we arrived at the Hyatt Grand Manchester the meter showed $26.60. I asked what the earlier ride had cost, when they took a cab from the Hyatt to South Bay. They admitted it had cost $34 and change. They offered no apologies, and no tip.
I had some other mentally challenged people later. They asked if there were any good seafood restaurants on Coronado Island. I suggested the Boathouse or Peohe's, both of which have excellent reputations. They discussed it among themselves, eventually settling on the Boathouse. "That's where we're going," they said, partially to themselves. When I got on the ramp leading up to the Coronado Bridge, one of the women in the back seat said, "Where are you taking us?"
Me: To the Boathouse. I thought we just discussed this.
Her: We have ferry tickets.
Me: You're taking the ferry to Coronado? That's the first I've heard about that. Do you want me to turn around?
Her: No, we're already on the bridge, let's go straight to the Boathouse.
Guy in the front seat, to the woman: You're confusing him.
Me: For the record, I'm not confused.
He's typical of a ride thief. He's a great guy on the cab stands, a family man who will help anyone in need. But something comes over him when he gets behind the wheel. Jekyll and Hyde.