Friday, January 10, 2014

Italian car, BMW engine

Saturday opened with a prosaic series of fares. A woman going to work stopped at the Shell station for Powerade, as she'd been drinking the night before. Her fountain drink was very blue - not something that I'd drink myself, but to each their own. My next three passengers were going home from two different Frys Food with their groceries.

I had to go to the post office for a flat-rate envelope. The line was long, so I took the envelope back out to the cab to fill, and gradually made my way over to a different post office for the mailing.

The second post office was near 20th St & Camelback, which is one of the more popular areas for the company's taxi drivers. I told the cab computer that I was taking a 10-minute break. In theory, breaks allow us to save our position in line. Before this break I was in Position 2, but when I returned I was in Position 4. This annoyed me greatly, but before long I was offered a fare 4 miles away - in one of Paradise Valley's zones. It turned out to be a rather short trip, but it was interesting enough to take a few pictures to share with you all.

Inside: link to a few pictures, and a poll.

The company has several options for ordering a cab. They have a call center with humans answering the phone. After you've ordered your first cab, an automated system asks if you want to be picked up at the same address, or it asks you to enter the street number for the location that you want to be picked up at (if you've order cabs from multiple locations). There's also txt-a-cab, iphone and android apps, and web browser cab order submission. When passengers talk to a human to order their cab, the system gives the driver plenty of information - passenger's name, pickup address, phone number, business name or apartment name, gate code, where the passenger will be waiting, etc. When passengers use the automated systems, the driver gets the address, phone number, and sometimes an apartment number.

This order was to the Paradise Valley Country Club, but I didn't know that until I called the supplied phone number. The doorman opened the cab door, a somewhat-shakey older woman got in, then the doorman closed the door. After a few moments I was ready to drive off, but then the doorman opened the other door, and I realized we were waiting for another passenger - the older man some distance away who was messing with his pockets.

Theirs was a short trip home. He gave the address, and also provided directions. She said something about getting a license, but people don't always realize that they've reach the end of their driving careers.

When we reached their home the man said to go to the carport, by which he meant the open garage door. Non-native English speakers drop subtle clues about where they learned English. After he paid the fare on a credit card, I asked if I could take some pictures of the little red antique car in the garage.

He said it was an Italian Car with a BMW Engine - I think the logo on the front said FIAT, but I didn't look closely. He'd bought it in Germany for $1,000 in the 1950's; these sell for maybe $20,000 today. He repeated "it has a BMW engine" several times, so that feature was of much importance to him. This car could go 50mph on the Autobahn. My passenger opened the front of the car, and the steering wheel moved off to the left to facilitate entry. Pieces of rubber gasket fell to the floor when the door was opened.

They had a new-ish Mercedes Benz C-class in the driveway as well - I would guess they were about 80 years old.
Italian car, BMW engine
a few more passengers...

My Indian regulars (continental Indians, not Native Americans) called just as I was headed south on Tatum, which was actually really good timing, as they live just a few miles to the north. They call me first whenever they want to get out of their apartment on the weekends because I have a car seat. On one of their early weekends in Phoenix they ordered a cab from the Company, and I appeared at their hotel very quickly. Some time later they ordered another cab to go home from Walmart, but none of the company's cabs with a car seat were in the area, and it was 45+ minutes before I was close enough to be offered their fare. Now they just call me first.

There were two separate mental health counseling passengers - both fares were paid for by their insurance. An older woman had taken a cab to the hospital because she thought she had pneumonia, but it was actually something else and was now heading home. Her recent knee surgery caused sciatic nerve pain, and hence the need for her upcoming surgery. The dialysis patient had a hat that indicated he was an Army veteran. I've had a lot of Vietnam guys, but this veteran had served in Korea, "The Forgotten War". He's been getting his blood filtered 3x/week for 2 years.

The helicopter instructor's truck had been left at the Scottsdale Airport because it had a flat tire. He was originally from Oklahoma, and had just gotten back from there the day before.

Instant Taxi

Not all of my "Instant Taxi" stories are as neat as the ones I've told about previously. After waiting for a good 1/2 hour near Scottsdale Rd & Mayo Clinic Blvd, I was offered a fare for 117-yds: 18545 N Allied Way, Phoenix. Google maps dropped the address pin basically on top of the location dot. I called and asked if the passenger was at Gordon Biersch's brewery (the fare computer did not provide the business name because he'd ordered using the phone app). I said that I was already in the parking lot, and that if he needed some time that was fine. He'd just lit his cigarette, and saw my cab light as I moved closer to the door.

The Indians called just before dropping these two off to say they'd had enough time at the mall for the day. I told them it would be 20-30 minutes, and that I would call when I was almost to the mall. On this particular day their 1-year old daughter was cranky, which was not so fun.


Not on this day, but there was another woman two days ago who doesn't go out drinking anymore because she realized that she didn't like working hung-over (she usually catches a ride home from work, but called for a taxi because her boss had given her a flat-screen TV). This is a bit of a theme, of late - I guess I should work on my "Ask K5" submission...

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