The company requires passengers less than 12 years of age to be accompanied by an adult. Alternatively, they are allowed to be picked up by a driver who has passed a background-check and obtained a fingerprint clearance. These girls were 11 and 5 years old, and I was able to get their fare because I put my prints on a card months ago.
The rest of Saturday was mostly unremarkable. Late in the day I found myself in old-town Scottsdale, and rather than work the short trips to the drinking establishments, I thought it better to start for home. A minute latter the quiet voice of guidance 'suggested' that I try to catch a kid's fare going home from the center, as one good fare is worth 3 or 4 small ones.
Inside: a message from our lost sheep.
Around 4:30 or 5pm Saturday I dropped a guy off at Majerle's Sports Bar in Old Town Scottsdale (Dan Majerle played for the Phoenix Suns, circa 1989 or so). It was about 2 hours before I was to turn the cab over to the night driver, and I thought that I should head west and maybe catch a few more fares over there before 6:30 rolled around.
Then I remembered the girls I'd taken to Scottsdale early in the day. I thought it would be nice if I could get them going home - fingerprint fares usually show up in that zone every weekend around this time, and most of them are "good" (>$20).
The dispatch computer allows for drivers to "query" a zone to see how many fares and taxis are waiting. The target zone was #233, and when I first started in its direction it had zero fares and zero taxis. When I was getting close a taxi appeared. When I entered the zone I was in position 2 - not ideal, but not a big deal, as there are usually plenty of kids going home.
I pulled up to the house and found a taxi waiting. I rolled down my window and exchanged pleasantries. He'd been there for a half hour. He also drove for an owner-operator - 3 days a week for 6 years.
Selective Electromagnetic Interference
"What position are you in?" He said he was in Position 1. I requested an update from the central computer, and was told I was in POS 1. "So am I!" Obviously we couldn't both be in Position 1, so he turned to his computer and was like, "shit, NOCOMS!" He reset his terminal, and got behind me in line.
NOCOMS stands for "no communications", and it appears whenever there is a communication disruption. The system works on the cellular networks, and sometimes we happen to park in or pass through cell shadows. Sometimes the computer system is just fussy. I suspect that sometimes I am nocom'd by my non-physical helpers so that I avoid certain passengers - perhaps because they are going in the wrong direction, and would therefore impede meeting someone else I am supposed to pick up later in the shift.
I was once offered a fare just as I pulled in to my bank's drive-thru ATM. I accepted it, but the system went nocoms before my acceptance could be transmitted back to base. I moved out of the shadow, and got the message that the fare offer had timed out & I had been 'booked off' for failure to respond.
I wondered if I should give Position 1 back to this other driver, but decided against it. "I'm going north to the Safeway, have a nice day."
Before I could get there I was offered a fare a mile or so away. I wonder if the other fellow would have accepted it if he'd been in position 1, or if he would've held out for someone going home from the facility he was parked at. Some drivers park in the same locations every day, and know based on distance what they're going to get.
My fare was a little past the Safeway - I guess I intuitively knew to move in that direction. The phone number was a 902 area code, and my phone said that it was calling with Google Voice. "What? it's never done this before..." I hung up to try again, and it resumed calling with Google Voice. "Hmm, he must be from Canada" - I have my phone set to dial international calls with Google Voice.
Indeed, the passenger was a financial advisor from Nova Scotia, and was visiting Phoenix to golf with friends. Usually he goes to Florida, but Phoenix is closer for his friends from British Columbia.
It was a very good fare - my best all day, and twice as much as the better of the two vouchers I'd dropped off at that house in the morning (7x as much as the smaller of the two vouchers).
When I got home the day's mail included a letter from our friend Michael Crawford.
He was quite appreciative for the package of "cookies and candy" he received recently, and assumed I'd sent them to him. While I did send more envelopes and the $10 "snack pack", I only got the shipment confirmation email yesterday, so this was certainly someone else's package: MDC sends his thanks.
... It really helps to know that I'm not forgotten in here. ...Michael Crawford
Also, please thank Pnarp for sending me his diary. It's hard to explain, but they are starting to make sense to me now.
Please tell everyone that mail of any sort really does help. K5 diaries would do just fine, really.
I had my 'preliminary hearing' on the 31st. Its purpose was to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to try me. The judge found that there was ;-(
Besides letter and snacks, I can really use books. However you have to order them shipped directly from the bookseller.
The food in here is really quite good - it's not what you'd expect for jail food, but there was not enough at first to satisfy, so I have lost a lot of weight.
I'm in a cell by myself [...] I rather prefer the quietness of it. At Atascadero we had a Dayroom with a TV constantly blaring.
I'm making good progress at reading Don Quixote. The book is HUGE - 900 pages of small type.
P.O. Box 15409
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406
He'd written in December to let me know that he'd been unexpectedly transfered to Atascadero, a prison hospital. I wrote him right back, but my letter was returned 3 weeks later because I'd only put my initials on the return address, and they apparently want to know who's writing their patients/inmates. I re-sent a revised letter to the prison hospital, then I saw the k5 diary where one of you noticed that MDC was back at the county jail. I sent my letter a third time to the county jail, the day before the second version was returned from Atascadero.
Movie Trivia: Pescadero was based on Atascadero...