Sunday, November 25, 2012

More about visiting SLO

For the record, I sent Mr. Crawford a card a week ago Saturday to let him know that I was planning to visit last Tuesday. The purpose for my visit was to consult with Mr. Crawford on the subject of a smartphone application for the taxi business, and various other internet-related ideas.

I drove from Santa Monica to San Luis Obispo [SLO] on Tuesday. First I stopped at the Grover Beach police station. I told the staffer that I was wondering about our friend who we'd heard was in SLO County Jail. She did look up MDC's name in her computer system, and said she couldn't say anything "because of the nature of the case". Whatever that meant. But she did tell me how to get to the courthouse in SLO, and said the Public Defender's office was right across the street.

The public defender's office was up a flight of stairs, and behind a door that did NOT say 'public defender'. They told me who MDC's public defender was, and mentioned something innocuous enough, which was probably public information anyways. But I don't want to get anyone in trouble, so I have decided that there is no need to share what specifically was mentioned.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Immigration anxiety at the county jail

I've never visited anyone in jail before. I caught something of a phone conversation of the woman next to me in line about someone having to buy someone a Lamborghini if they were going to stay friends, and I used that to strike up a conversation.

She was there to visit her husband. She's white, he's Mexican. They'd been together for 13+ years, and her family didn't understand why she put up with him. So we had a little chat about the energy dynamics in relationships, and she gave me insider's tips about visiting people at the county jail.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Women's troubles...

Our new ( member's diary about birth control reminded me of a few passengers.

The most recent one was a 30 year old woman. I asked how long she'd been in the Valley. She said she was a native. I asked if she'd ever lived anywhere else, and she said that she'd left the state for a brief period of time when she was pregnant at 15 or 17 and didn't want to tell her father. I think she went somewhere in the southeast - Florida? I don't remember.

This reminded me of the passenger I picked up some time back on Cave Creek Road...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I sent some paper and envelopes to Mr. Crawford

I clicked on the link in this comment, and saw that you could buy stuff for inmates. Is this the user who was talking about there being a taxi conspiracy?

I should try to catch up on my fare reports. Every night is interesting, in its own way.

A few mornings back I went to vacuum the cab at the self-serve car wash, and a guy on a bicycle struck up a conversation with me. It turned out that he also drives for the company. I told him about driving for the owner/operator, and he was very interested. I gave him the owner's phone number, in the hopes that he would take over for me.

I was rather tired of nights. They're not so bad, as long as it's busy. But the last night I drove was boring. Hopefully I am back to working on my own terms, instead of being obligated to drive 3-4 nights a week.

Poll: What would you send an inmate?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Passenger Rescue, pt 2

A few nights after my last diary, about the passenger rescue, I had a series of fares that put me in the north-east corner of the valley. The zone in this area that most cab drivers want to wait in is 225, which is north of the intersection of Scottsdale Rd. and Bell Rd/Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. There are some nice hotels, jaguar/porsche/audi/etc dealerships, and well-to-do neighborhoods on the outside of the loop 101.

When I visit zone 225, I typically wait in the Whole Foods parking lot, where I pick up a carrot, coffee, or something from the hot deli (which is rather expensive for a humble taxi driver, but I am very picky). There is also a Trader Joe's in this zone, and they have free coffee samples, tapioca pudding, etc.

On this particular night I had no interest in being fourth in line in 225, so I went to 223, which is just west of the Whole Foods on Mayo Blvd. Zone 223 and 224 are shaped a little oddly - 223 is north of 224, when the the #'s usually count up west-to-east. 223 is rather barren, so I headed south to 224.

Inside: youtube link, etc

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Passenger Rescue

Yesterday I was offered a fare in zone 242. I accepted, and it was at the nearby Albertson's grocery store. "oh great $6", I thought.

When I pulled up to the grocery store I called the number. A guy came out and said his friend was inside. Friend came out, "do you guys have groceries?"  No groceries - passenger #1 had taken his car to the German car mechanic (Early 90's Mercedes SL, I think). "Take us to Mesa".  Good fare, nice tip.

A few hours later I was asked to come back to Mesa and pick up his friend. First he txt'd me his cc#, then said to just come by where he was (which was different than where I'd dropped him off hours earlier). He paid the fare with a good tip, and I took this woman to the first apartment complex in Mesa. She was going for a tattoo, and said that the artist had been in prison. In literature this is called "foreshadowing".

Today's first fare from this passenger was even better. Then things got weird.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Letter to the Prosecutor

8888 Rattlesnake Blvd
Phoenix, Arizona
(602) 888-0248

Re: State v. Sleepy Passenger
Docket No. 2012986028

To Whom it may Concern:

This is in regards to the charge of 13-1802A1, Misdemeanor Theft.

I started leasing a cab on from [cab company] in March 2012. My primary concern has been to take the best possible care of my passengers.

Over the past few months, I have not been paid by at least 4 passengers for their transit. Mr. Sleepy Passenger has now paid his fare, so he is NOT included among these 4 passengers. There is a distinct difference between the passengers who intended to pay but weren't able, and those who had pre-meditated intent to steal my time and energy.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Taxicab Vacation: Visiting Santa Monica

I'm a few leases behind in my fare reports. Sorry about that. Maybe I will be able to catch up tomorrow.

A few days ago (must've been Wednesday) I left Arizona to visit Santa Monica, which is in the Los Angeles area. The excuse to my family was that I was going to visit the Multiplaz office, for a demonstration of their plasma welding machine.

To get to Santa Monica from Phoenix, you take I-10 to the end and turn right. Ferdinand kept telling me to get on California-60, but I ignored those instructions. While Ferdinand is usually pretty good about getting me to where I need to go, sometimes he's a hapless explorer...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


As of April 1st, AHCCCS patients now have to pay a $2 copay for non-emergency transportation. Since I'd been doing nights for 2 weeks, I hadn't needed to collect a copayment from any destitutes yet.

My 1st passenger from this day was at a doctor's office. The screen said to collect the $2, so I made sure that she was aware of the new policy. She grumbled, and paid up at the destination. The message on the screen says we're supposed to collect when they get in, to prevent them from hobbling away. I guess I should do that next time.

Not much to report from this night, other than it was the last time I shared the cab with the other driver. There was supposed to have been one more night, but his contract with the cab company was canceled, and I got some cash back instead.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

22: degrees of intoxication

My first fare of the evening was in the West Valley. I called the passenger when I got to the location where I was to pick him up - he talked very quickly, and 'no habla ingles'. I hung up, called dispatch, and asked if they had someone who could call and interpret for me. A few minutes later my phone rang, and I learned that he was walking as quickly as he could.

I asked the fellow to sit in the front, so that I could better read his non-verbal directions. One thing I noticed right away was the alcohol on his breath. He was friendly, and said that he was going to visit 'la novia' (girlfriend). I refer to him as 'the happy Honduran'.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

21: couples, foreshadowing, fast food, and foreigners

My first fare this Friday evening was a woman who works for a warehouse, right next to where my ride-share lives. It's not a big fare, but she takes the (city-subsidized) taxi home 5 days a week. I gave her my ride-share's number so she could call him directly. He could pick her up at the end of his day, and this small fare could really add up over time.

I picked the next fare up at a bar. The tension between the couple was palpable for most the ride - the lady was not happy, for unknown reasons. I caught something about them having cats, so I asked what colors they were. One is black, the other tiger-striped. The black one's name is 'Raisin'.

The tension instantly melted when the conversation was shifted to their beloved cats. Raisin named himself.

My third fare remembered me from the night I had the sprinter. In literature this is known as 'foreshadowing'.


Monday, April 9, 2012

20: round-trips, the company cabstand, and a super-debugger

I'm a little behind - I hope it's okay to post two diaries on the same day.

On this evening I found my first passenger at her gated townhouse complex on a major street in north Phoenix. Her destination was a house about a mile and a half away. After I dropped her off, she asked for my card, and said she'd be ready to go back in two hours or so.

The next passenger was a long time in coming. I went to the Desert Ridge Marketplace and bought some mini-carrots at Target. They were rather repulsive (preservatives? manufacturing residue?), but I ate them anyways. My next fare finally came an hour after the previous was dropped off. He was at the hospital, and supposedly had a hand held voucher.


19: antidotes for women, and a different kind of 'candy'

This evening started out with a visit to the John C. Lincoln hospital near home. Two women emerged when I approached the emergency room entrance.  Eventually I decided theirs was a mother/daughter relationship - mom had gone to the E.R. with stomach problems.

The daughter wanted to make her mom something for dinner, but mom was NOT hungry for the fish that was being offered. "you've got to eat", "I'm just not hungry."

I asked what kind of fish, and they said 'salmon'. They did not, of course, offer whether this was wild or farmed salmon. But even that doesn't matter: even though wild salmon does have a lot more antioxidants than the farmed variety, it still gives you fish burps after you eat it. I too would avoid salmon if my stomach was bothering me.

If I was sick, I'd make jello. I told them that this is the kind of protein that keeps me going while taxicab driving. Mom immediately perked up - this was something she could eat.


Friday, April 6, 2012

18: refugees from Phoenix, drunk indians

At the start of this shift I headed to Scottsdale, figuring that there are plenty of people in that area who can afford to take a cab. I picked up a passenger in east Phoenix that took me to Scottsdale Rd, then took the guy from a massage establishment further north on Scottsdale Rd, to his hotel in Oldtown Scottsdale.

Then... nothing. There were a lot of cabs in the area, and this was a Monday. I surveyed the available fares, and it seemed like the east valley was being neglected. I got on the freeway headed south for the greener pastures in Tempe and Mesa.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

17: A charity fare, the dancer and her patron, and the allure of 'candy'

This diary is about Fool Day 2012, which fell on a Sunday. My first passenger was going from his apartment on Camelback to Oldtown Scottsdale so he could get his car.

My brother called as I was later driving north on Scottsdale Road, and I absentmindedly turned east on McDonald. Two miles later my next fare was offered. Zones can be pretty large, but my absentminded turn put me within a 1/2 mile of the address.

This fellow punked me good for Fool Day 2012, and he and the next two passengers perfectly positioned me to lend a ride to someone who needed it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

16: Three trips to the Corral

Not much exciting to report from Saturday night. First passenger was dressed up in a tuxedo, and was sort of drunk. He had a flower on his lapel, and confirmed the event was a wedding. Hours later I found a polaroid-type photo on the back seat. If I had a scanner I'd post it, if K5 had image tags. Cest la vie.

Around 1am I considered a fare in Zone 208, even though it was probably quite a ways. I asked for the fare, and was told "14.8 miles". I decided to take it, and started north on Scottsdale Road to Cave Creek. This was a good decision - not a lot of cabs make the journey to 208, and I was able to work the bar for a couple fares, including a group of boisterous women who paid well.

The passengers were at Harold's Corral, which is a western-themed restaurant/bar. This was the end of bike-week (?), and there were lots of motorcycles in that city. I pulled up looking for Taylor, and a drunk old dude tried to get me to ditch Taylor and take him instead. My responsibility was to the person I was assigned, and sure enough, eventually he appeared.

Monday, April 2, 2012

15: The sprinter, the addict, advice from a cop, a cutie, and a player

Two or three weeks back, when I took the two special-needs fares to their pizza party, I rolled down the window to chat with another driver for the same cab company (who had also brought a fare to the special-needs pizza party). He leases his cab for a week at a time.

A week ago he called me to see if I was interested in a 'ride share'. He works during the day, but spends the evenings with his family. This leaves the cab sitting in his driveway all night. The company charges an extra $157 to put a second driver on the cab - if you work 7-nights it can add up to a significant savings. I don't know if I'll stick with it, because I'd sorta rather sleep at night.

But night fares are mostly cash, and you get a different type of passenger. This past weekend I worked my first Friday night, and met my first sprinter. And I'll certainly never do better in terms of $-per-foot than the (likely) meth addict who'd refused medical intervention.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Assisting in the Greecian's Pilgrimage (Recovering from Day 14)

My 14th shift was bad. I never should have taken the crown victoria that was missing the button for lumbar support adjustment. But I did anyways, and was miserable all day. Halfway through the shift I compiled a list of things that needed to be fixed on the car, and headed back to base (ignition held on to the key, trunk wouldn't release w/out help, pulled right, 'clunking' in front suspension, excessive shuddering on the freeway).

I met the Greek pilgrim on Monday, while sitting at my usual coffee shop.

Day 14 (Tuesday) was so bad that I intended to work on my other projects today, but I'm always open when opportunity calls.

Poll: Are you in search of spiritual insights?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 13: The Doctor, Drinkers, and Downtime

This was my second 24-hour lease, and the first to fall on a weekend night.

The afternoon started off slow. My first fare was a mildly-intoxicated mexican fellow going home from the bar.

Poll: How often do you take a cab?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 12: Working Girl

Not much to report from yesterday. I'd bet the entire day's take that my first passenger was a working girl.

Made three trips to the airport yesterday, so that was cool. The last one was a total setup.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 11: illumination, making friends

The company requires new drivers to put in 10 shifts before they'll lease a cab out for 24-hours. Before taking out the car, a fellow driver pointed out that you don't save much on Sunday Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, because PM leases on those nights are relatively cheap. I took the 24 hour lease anyways, because I'm not very interested in working graveyard right now.

So I picked up a Prius just before 4pm on Monday.

A guy checking in his cab asked if I wanted a fare - how much to 19th Ave? Uhm, $10?  He put his bag and boat seat in the trunk, and I sorta rushed the checklist. But I distinctly remember checking both headlights, and that the amber glow was present in each.

Yesterday I was reminded of something I forgot to tell you about the asian ladies from a few days ago.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 10: An entrepreneur vs. St. Patrick's Day

An early fare yesterday was a 32-y.o. woman who'd just had a relapse. She'd gone out drinking with a friend, possibly some drugs... She'd been clean for a year. Unemployed for 4 years, spent 7-months in jail sometime for defending herself against her abusive boyfriend/husband with a meat cleaver.

The one after her was going to his narcotics anonymous meeting. Then I took some high-functioning special needs-types to their weekly lunch at the pizza buffet (long ways away - $23), then picked up another woman to take to the same event (2 miles, $6).

Then picked up someone to go to a women's meeting... 2 miles away. "gotta get out of here", so I headed north-west. Went 12 miles to a fare in a zone that had good potential, but no one was home at the address, and the neighbor said both their cars were gone. wtf?

Found a small fare or two, then I met the German couple, and my day got much better after that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 8: bus strike, medical malpractice

Last month I needed something to do, and my non-physical helpers 'suggested' that I drive a cab. I have decided to join your fine community so that I have a record of the interesting people I meet. (note: this was originally posted to

Independent contractors like myself lease a car from the company, and pay for the lease and our time by picking up fares that the company sends our way. Fares are first offered to cabs in the passenger's zone. If there is no cab to offer the fare to, the system will announce its availability so that any driver in the system can pick it up.

I tried to lease a car this morning, but there were two waiting lists. The hybirds disappear on week days by 4:30am, but I've always been able to get a Crown Victoria at 6:30am.

Valley Metro's bus drivers are striking, which is probably why more drivers than usual took out a lease.

Poll: Should bus drivers be allowed to strike?