Friday, September 2, 2016

The Perpetual Quest for Decent Fares

Most taxi fares are short trips. The taxi company's meter started at $2.95; some people's fares only got up to $3.20. The minimum for an insurance-paid trip was $6. It’s hard to make money with a bunch of $6 fares.

Every taxi driver has a strategy for getting large fares. Some drivers will spend hours in certain areas hoping for a 30-mile trip from a resort to the airport. Some will stick to the areas where they’ve gotten lucky before. There are good fares everywhere, so I went to the areas my passengers took me and listened to my intuition.

A friend of mine recently pulled up to a random house in the east valley. The passenger started to bring her bags out. He asked for her destination, so he'd be ready to depart. She was going to Snowflake. My friend was floored: “you know that’s a $300-400 trip, right?” The passenger had been quoted a price by the dispatcher, so she knew what to expect. My friend couldn’t take her because he would have been 2 hours late getting the cab to the night driver. But he transferred the passenger to his friend, who appreciated having a nearly $400 fare.

In my 3.5 years of driving, the best fare I ever had was a trade. It was a relatively short trip. I made out like an bandit.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


The current posts and pages here were originally posted as diaries at (K5). I'd started blogging about my taxi passengers at K5 in March, 2012, after my eighth lease. My original intention was to help me better remember all the interesting people I was meeting. I posted at K5 because I wanted to be anonymous, and was not looking for attention (the site had already shrunk to a skeleton core of users at that time). went down when the site's owner neglected to prepare for when the data center hosting his site moved.

K5 users voted three of my story submissions to the site’s front page, and one to section.

Electronic Taxi Dispatch, v1.0 is about how the taxi company’s pre-smartphone/pre-tablet GPS-enabled computerized dispatch system matched passengers with cabs.

Who Are Your Lifelines? is about the time that I bailed my passenger out of jail. He was a down-on-his-luck tech worker, who could have been anyone. He’d called me because he remembered my phone number.

Humanity’s Second-Best Hope is about the dreadful seasonal job that I had just before I started taxi driving, mixed with some 2012-era political commentary.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

the difference between boys & girls

One night I pulled up to the now-closed 7-11 convenience store near 35th Ave and Thomas. The taxi computer said the passenger's name was Blanca, and did not provide a phone number. A ~20 year old Hispanic woman, whose name was NOT `Blanca', was sitting on the curb. She concluded the sale of her Nintendo Wii to her new friend, who also prepaid me for her taxi fare. The woman got into the cab and we departed towards her destination. After I said a few words, my passenger remembered me and said, "I've had you before." Hmm? "You put your hands on my head."

What? I never do that... Sometimes, when passengers were stressed, I would tell them how to put their own hands on their own heads in a specific manner to help normalize blood flow, thereby helping them process stress better. I briefly looked at my passenger. I remember places not faces, not even faces with distinctive tattoos, and drew a total blank.

"Where did I pick you up?"

"At the Dream C___."

"Where's that?"

"On Grand Avenue."

I still drew a blank. After a bit more of the exchange, the night I'd almost taken this woman somewhere came back to me in a flash. "Oh yeah. How ya doing?"

She was much better - She was proud of having quit meth, and said she just had to kick the blunts and she'd be good.

It'd been about two months since I'd met this woman. Previously she'd been in the middle of an emotional crisis.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Imaginary Workplaces

While reading on the internet recently, I was reminded of a passenger...

The pickup address was at the Mercedes Benz dealership on Scottsdale Rd just north of Frank Lloyd Wright. The passenger was a single gentleman who I estimated to be in his mid-70's. I asked if he'd dropped his car off for service. He said that he'd dropped a car off at the auction, across the street, and was going back to his condo for the other car that he was selling.

One of my standard questions was to ask people if they'd lived in Phoenix all their life. If not, I'd ask how they found their way to the desert. Then I'd just go with my intuition to figure out if this person had something to share that I'd be interested in.

Maybe because he was old, or because I was just a random taxi driver, he told me of some things that younger retirees with security clearances would have never even hinted at.