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?

Third fare was a couple at a pizza place. Their first cab was sent to a Walgreens a dozen miles away - wrong address in the computer, I guess. This was quite fortunate for me. They wanted to go to an italian carnival a few miles away. As we approached a seedy-looking setup at the racetrack, they asked for my number, just in case.

As I was dropping them off a drunk dude appeared to flag me down. He'd been waiting for a cab for an hour-plus. He tried to barge in while my passenger was paying his fare, but was apologetic when he realized that he had to wait. We got his friend, then proceeded to another bar. I dropped the drunker of the two off before getting to the bar, so he could get his car. Maybe (hopefully) that guy got a DUI last night.

The pizza/carnival couple called me just as I was dropping off the other fellow (who was probably a functional alcoholic) at his neighborhood watering hole. The couple said to look for them on the street, to avoid the congestion at the parking area where I'd dropped them off. She later said there was too much meth at the street carnival.

I asked how it was that they decided to go. The woman said that she was given free tickets when she dropped some cans off at the classic rock radio station's food drive.

The Doctor

I took them back to where I picked them up. I roamed the parking lot for a few minutes, looking for a flag. But then a call came in that was a mile or two away. He was outside waiting, on his phone. After we got moving he called someone else and said that "no, I haven't done any thyroidectomies recently."

"So, you're a surgeon?" General surgeon... Intestinal cancers, gallbladders, hearts, etc. Doesn't like the office visits nearly as much as operating.

He called for a cab to spend the night at the Sheraton. He was troubled about his woman, whom he's been with for 4-5 years, gets delusional about stuff - he said she takes what happens and twists it. So I said something about how he communicates in terms of "seeing", while she communicates in terms of "hearing", and that's why she can't "see" what he's saying.

It was a decent fare, with a decent tip, but I screwed it up by putting the total amount in as the tip amount. Shit. I parked and found the guy in the lobby, to tell him what I'd done. "That's fine," and he signed the new receipt I offered.  He must've appreciated being able to talk to someone about his domestic strife.

Three fellows at the same hotel lobby appeared, wanting to go to a nearby strip club. They'd just arrived from N.Y., Boston, and New Jersey, and needed to stay up a few more hours before going to bed.


There were a few random passengers before the first of the saturday-night drinkers. This group of four was going to clubs in Old-Town Scottsdale. They were still sober, and it was a decent fare. At the destination there were people everywhere, and I got stuck in traffic. At one point some people tried to flag me down, but I was already assigned to my next fare.

I let the 5 of them squeeze in. Ought to set better boundaries on that. They too went to old-town Scottsdale.

I went looking for the people who'd tried to flag me down, but they were not to be found. I parked next to another of the company's cabs and talked to the driver, who was taking a cigarette break. I commented on the 20 fares in zone 308 (Tempe). He said that zone 307 would be good for flags, in an hour or so.

I accepted another fare, and after making phone contact waited for several minutes before they finally came out. It was a young man & woman, going to the club.


After I dropped them off, I noticed the car wasn't handling right, and a new light on the dashboard. Flat tire?  Walked around, and the front-right was completely deflated. What a relief - no more drinkers. I called dispatch, and they sent a tow truck for me. Drivers aren't supposed to change their own tires, because a few  got hurt "trying" to change their own tire some time back.

While waiting, i pulled out my laptop and started on this diary for y'all. :)

The tow truck driver showed up after maybe 30 or 40 minutes, and proceeded to jack up the front of the car. But my car didn't have a donut/spare. So he loaded my cab on the flatbed, and started the journey back to base.

But there was another cab that wouldn't start. This was close to base, so we went there first. He said usually the Prius that won't start just needs a jump to reset the computer, and they're good to go. Sure enough, this was the case.

The tow truck driver was a black fellow from New York, and said he'd never experienced much racism before he got to Arizona. He shared the story of hobbling around a grocery store on crutches, with a cast on his leg, and a white woman scurrying away in terror. lol. Marines vet, 10 years, Desert Storm (1991),  Afghanistan (2001/2002?).

After unloading my cab, I got a loaner Prius, and started work on neglected calls around base. First was a fellow going to work, at a medical call center - an after-hours call service for physicians. People would call in, and they'd decide if the patient should go to the hospital.

Next was a woman going home, then a gangster type, who talked about  living in the projects/ghetto. I offered him a reduced fare, but he said he makes lots of money, and that I should've asked for money when I picked him up.

Last call for the evening was supposed to be downtown, near 19th Avenue and Thomas. But when I called he said he was at 19th Avenue and Deer Valley (which is actually 13 miles north of Thomas Rd) and that he didn't know if I should bother with his fare because "it was only a few miles". Since I was about 1/2 way between Thomas Rd. and Deer Valley Rd., I said I'd come get him anyways.

This fellow had a few friends come back from Iraq. He was car-less because his visiting brother got his car impounded for 14 days (DUI). I guess he'd spent most of his money at the strip club, and wanted to spend what he had left to get close enough to home to walk the rest of the way.

I said I'd just take him all the way home for $10, which $1 less than the $11 he had to spend.

Went to bed around 4:50am. Woke up, took a shower, and went back to work.


Two fares went to church this morning, and a group of four went back to the Fashion Square. Two arab-looking fellows appeared at the Fashion Square drop-off point. They wanted to go to the outlet stores - perhaps prices at the Fashion Square were too much for them. Luckily they knew to remind me that Arizona Mills has outlet stores too, otherwise I'd've taken them to a place that was far, far away.

They were from Lebanon, in town for a conference. After a week they were going back to Lebanon and Iran (I think). They chatted for the entire 30-minute drive, in what must've been arabic. I noted a few English words throughout their conversation, and country-names that must sound the same in Arabic as they do in English.

I picked up another fare coming back from Arizona Mills. When I called, the guy said that he really just wanted help jumping his car, and that he'd pay me $8 or $10. Sounded fine to me, though I wasn't sure how good the Prius is for jumping.

Finally found his location, but then he called me back to say that his car decided to start today. I asked him to please call scheduling and cancel his call. This was so that I wouldn't be hit with the $2 charge drivers get stuck with when we cancel out of a fare for no-shows and driver-initiated cancellations. A few minutes later the computer said "Fare canceled", so that worked out okay.

By this point it was almost time to return my cab. It was slow, and I took my time heading back, in case something else came up. I was about to put money in the car wash machine when a fare was offered for 1000yds away. I had an hour and a half, so I backed out of the car wash, and spent my last hour taking the guy around on errands. Worked out very nicely.

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