Tuesday, April 3, 2012

16: Three trips to the Corral

Not much exciting to report from Saturday night. First passenger was dressed up in a tuxedo, and was sort of drunk. He had a flower on his lapel, and confirmed the event was a wedding. Hours later I found a polaroid-type photo on the back seat. If I had a scanner I'd post it, if K5 had image tags. Cest la vie.

Around 1am I considered a fare in Zone 208, even though it was probably quite a ways. I asked for the fare, and was told "14.8 miles". I decided to take it, and started north on Scottsdale Road to Cave Creek. This was a good decision - not a lot of cabs make the journey to 208, and I was able to work the bar for a couple fares, including a group of boisterous women who paid well.

The passengers were at Harold's Corral, which is a western-themed restaurant/bar. This was the end of bike-week (?), and there were lots of motorcycles in that city. I pulled up looking for Taylor, and a drunk old dude tried to get me to ditch Taylor and take him instead. My responsibility was to the person I was assigned, and sure enough, eventually he appeared.

The Festival in Cave Creek

Taylor was a young guy, early-20's, probably. One friend was okay, the other was sleepy-drunk. The three of them were going to spend the night at a friend's house, but they didn't really know where it was.

As I started driving, I was a little nervous that they'd spent all their money on booze at the bar, but I'm taxicab driving to help people more than maximizing my income, and the main thing is to cover my expenses.

Eventually their iPhone maps led us to the guardhouse of a gated community. The guardhouse was manned, which I'd never seen before. Taylor dropped his friend's name, and the guard asked which of the friend's 4 houses they were going to stay at.

My impression was that Taylor and his friends actually work (as employees) in this rather ritzy area. A ways inside the main, staffed gate were other key-coded gates - I'd never seen a double gated community before. Taylor got out at the gate and slipped through, while the one friend woke up the other and got him out of the car.

A few seconds later Taylor returned and announced that this was NOT the place they were looking for, and the three of them piled back in my cab. We went to the next gate-within-the-gated community. Taylor got out to inspect, was satisfied with the location, and I was satisfied that they'd be okay.

Got another fare for Harold's Corral. This was a group of two men and one rather intoxicated woman. I took them to the Carefree Conference Center.

The third fare from Harold's Corral was a group of women. The prius has seatbelts for myself and 4 passengers. Somehow they fit all six of their party in the car - 2 in front, 4 in back. They were rather festive. The first four got out at one house, and the other two went to another location. This group of female passengers paid much better than the 5 sorority girls I had on Saint Patrick's Day. All that talk about birth control in February and March has me thinking about hormones - does the extra estrogen make women more vulnerable to alcohol? I don't remember.

The woman in the passenger seat said that the Sheriffs were busy looking for intoxicated drivers, and would arrest you for anything, which is why they'd called for the cab.

The next fare was for a gated community on Happy Valley Road. I used the supplied gate code, and eventually decided that the driveway without a number must be #5 - the number of cars, and red plastic cups - indicated that a party must have taken place. Eventually Brandon came out, apologized, and said they couldn't leave quite yet. He did tip nicely, but I never started the meter, so the meth addict is still the best $/mile I've had.

Went south to Oldtown. Tried to get a fare at the Hilton Garden on Indian School Rd, at 3:30 or 3:45, but he was nowhere to be found. Fortunately the hotel staff (who'd scheduled the call) canceled it for me, so I wasn't hit with the $2 hit that I get stuck with when I cancel fares myself.

Air Crew, Backtracking

A group whose attire said "Air Crew" was gathering in the hotel lobby, and there was a driver waiting with his Suburban/Yukon outside. The driver confirmed that he was taking the air crew[s] to the airport. I sat down to survey zones with fares, but before I could try for one my phone rang, with a request for a taxi. This was a new number, but I asked where they were located. "Happy Valley Road."

Already? He'd said it'd probably be 5am before they'd be ready. The guy had tipped well when he sent me away the first time, which more than covered the gas for my futile search for fares in Oldtown Scottsdale, 10-15 miles south.

Early Morning

I got another call from the Hilton Gardens, but this time on Princess Dr. No one was in the lobby, so I used the restroom... Wait, wait wait. Finally I called the number, and it was the hotel line. "Where are you?" Indian School Road. Asked about the passenger, "I think he went outside."  I called dispatch and told them about their scheduler's screw-up. I should get a $2 credit for that, but I'm just hoping the charge is removed from my fare list.

The last guy I picked up warned me that he only had $13.60 on his debit card, but the fare for this trip was usually only $13. He was apologetic about not being able to tip, but I said $13.60 was fine, "I've been there." I meant to charge him $13.00 even, but somehow it ticked up to $13.15. This happened again recently, and I've realized that if the meter ticks up while the passenger is  signing it adds to the fare field too. Something I'll have to be careful about.

Drunk People Are People Too

Initially I'd avoided the drinkers, because I don't drink much myself - mostly just a glass of red wine once or twice a week.

But like the other cabby said, their money spends just the same as sober people's, and if you pick them up from the right sort of drinking establishment, they can be quite generous with their tips.

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