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.

The fellow driver said that his personal car was in the shop, and that his boat was a 1987 SeaRay. Really? We had a 1987 SeaRay Seville growing up, which was lots of fun. It got the dry-rot, and my dad spent a lot of time rebuilding it, before he gave it to his mechanically-inclined high school friend, whose son enjoyed it too. [*1]

Picked up some drinkers at the mexican restaurant. They were from St. Louis... When I pulled up to the restaurant, the headlights were shining right through a plate glass window, so I turned off the lights. Pulling out I forgot to turn the lights on right away, and someone flashed me to let me know.

Something suspicious... Is one light out?  Hmm.... Drop off my drinkers at the Sheraton in downtown phoenix. A little while later a guy in an orange vest flags me down, "you have a headlight out."  Base is a long way away... Do I go back, or keep looking for fares? I decided that I couldn't waste an hour, and kept looking for fares.

The next one was a woman at Target. Her Audi has transmission problems. The cab ride to work was $28, so she took the (relatively new) light rail to Target to try it out, and to maybe save a few dollars getting home. A few miles later she says, "Did you know you have a headlight out?" She was concerned that maybe a cop would pull me over.

After dropping her off I was relatively close to base, so I went the 4 miles back. The gate to the yard was half-closed, but I was able to sneak in. I heard Robert off in the distance, and he was not happy that a driver had returned, when they were trying to leave.  I told my sorry tale, expecting to need to replace a headlight bulb.

Robert looked at the front of my car. Whack, and the headlight turns back on. "you're fine now". Wow.

Now where?  Hmm... I don't remember where exactly it showed up, but somewhere I got an uneasy feeling that I'd left my dog out on the balcony. I'd given her my lamb bones outside, and while I was sure I let her back in to feed her kibble before I left, the feeling said "go home and check on your dog."

Sure enough, she greeted me at the door. I must've let her back in, or she navigated the spiral staircase for the first time. But I was able to grab a brownie, cheese and a carrot to snack on.

When I got back the cab, the screen said I'd been unbooked because I'd failed to ACCEPT/REJECT a fare offer. Booked back in, and it immediately offered me a fare that was less than a mile away.

This was an AHCCCS fare, and I met him at the doors to the emergency room. The doctors told him he has ulcerative colitis, which started in 2001 or so. Now his teeth are starting to fall out. He kinda knew what he needed (and what I would've recommended), but AHCCCS doesn't pay for that: "Treat 'em till they die". If he ever calls I have a contact who will trade for one aspect of the treatment he needs.

I asked why I picked him up at John C. Lincoln, when there are several closer hospitals to his home. He likes the doctors at Lincoln better, because the doctors at Hospital XYZ think he just wants drugs.

Took some girls to the Rhythm Room, which is a bar/music venue. I recognized their area code, but forgot to ask where in that state they were from. Oh well.

Picked up another AHCCCS fare at a different emergency room. This was in a rather upscale section of Scottsdale. Home for them was right next to the John C. Lincoln location I'd visited earlier (there are 2). "So why not John C. Lincoln?"  They don't like the doctors there. The woman certainly has problems, but they don't know which nutrients she probably needs. "Treat 'em till they die"

Around 11pm I thought to turn in for the night, but ... the fare was in a nearby zone, so I went for it. Got to the location, and... found my fare getting into another of the company's cabs. Sometimes two cabs are sent to the same call - this has happened to me at least twice. Didn't mind, because I was more interested in going to bed than 24-hour walmart, or wherever.


Got on the road, maybe by 6am. It was nice to not have to drive to base to check out the cab.

First fare was an epileptic. He's had 2 brain surgeries, yesterday he was going to talk to the doctor about a sleep study. "Treat 'em till they die"

2nd fare was going to outpatient surgery. They were just doing a routine checkup on her stomach ulcers, which were really bad a year or two ago. I guess she's not on the regular program, which is quite fortunate.

Another fare was a cancer patient, who goes for an injection for pain every-other-day. "Treat 'em till they die"

A real african woman went to the county health center. She didn't speak english very well.

Black woman -> doctor. she played the  mp3's loud.

The Iraqi translator was cool to talk to. "So how is Iraq, really?"  Getting better. She translated for the U.S. army. They got her a visa, and she came over with two of her kids. She called me this evening, so that I'd have her phone number.

2nd-to-last fare had just bought a motel in Canada, and was turning it into a franchise for a large chain of hotels. He was in Phoenix because this was the chain's training center. He was going to Enterprise to rent a car, so he and his wife could go to Sedona. As I was driving away I heard voices from the back seat. He'd left his tom-tom GPS navigator, which was telling me how to get to his next stop in Tempe.

I took it back to him. This was quite fortunate, as it delayed me long enough to catch a nice fare that I otherwise would've missed.

Anyways, the asian woman, from Day 8 text-messaged me on Sunday and asked if I had a car. "sorry, not today, TWTh."  She asked if I could take her to the airport on Thursday, which I thought would be fine.

She text'd me again yesterday at noon and asked if I was out. Fortunately I was taking a break at the time, charging my phone, so I wrote her back right away, said I was a long way away, and that it'd probably be better to schedule with the company.

2 hrs later she text'd again, just as I was dropping off my last fare. Said she'd been waiting 2 hours, that no one could find her place. I wrote back with a suggestion for what she could tell people to help them find her place, which was rather new, and NOT on my GPS maps.

A Connection Through the Aether

I offered to pick her up. She said that'd be good - was very frustrated with waiting on cab company drivers. Rush hour traffic sucked, and it didn't help that they closed I-10 eastbound at the salt river. WTF? (accident, apparently.)

We went back to the bank we'd gone to the first time. Traffic delayed me until after closing, but the ATM was good enough.

Getting back to the car, she said that she'd saved my number because I had text'd them the address where I'd left them, and suggested that they tell the dispatcher which store they were in front off. Completely forgot about that. This is what I said last time:
I had some trouble finding the two asian women, as I haven't updated the maps on my GPS yet. They were new to the valley, and didn't know where anything was, but at least the cross street they gave was enough to allow me to "guess" where their building was. They first asked to go to the nearest Bank of America, and the GPS offered a branch that was just down the street. Then I took them across the street to the open air market, 'cause they wanted food. They paid the fare and left a nice tip.
After I left, I thought that I should really tell them where they were, so when they called for another cab they could be found. I called dispatch and left the address, then went and looked for the two ladies. But they were nowhere to be found. Oh well.
She needed another suitcase for her trip, and to go to Home Depot.... I consulted the GPS and decided that Target would have reasonably-priced suitcases.

She asked me about religion, if I was christian. "I'm sorta Buddhist... looking for enlightenment." She too identifies with the Buddhist tradition.

We went to Target first. After much deliberation she settled on the 3-in-one blue suitcases, on the condition that I'd take the medium-sized one.

Found window tint and night lights at Home Depot.

On the drive back I learned where in Asia she's from. "Really? I've been there," which she thought was neat.

Dropped her off. Since I don't have a meter in my car, and she wanted to pay, I just said it'd been 'so long', and she could just pay at the cab company's "waiting" rate." She pulled out some bills, gave me a stack, which I put under the visor.

So that was cool.

This was the text message I'd sent on Day 8:

"When you call for your next cab, tell them you are at San Tan Village, 2218 E Williams Field Rd, Gilbert. Also say which store you are outside of. Hope that helps."

Footnote *1: At the very end of my taxi career, I had a passenger who managed the Sea Ray factory that built our boats. He said the company couldn't afford to do anything about the dry rot problem because of the economic circumstances at the time. Eventually Sea Ray closed this factory, and that passenger had to find another job.

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