Thursday, April 5, 2012

17: A charity fare, the dancer and her patron, and the allure of 'candy'

This diary is about Fool Day 2012, which fell on a Sunday. My first passenger was going from his apartment on Camelback to Oldtown Scottsdale so he could get his car.

My brother called as I was later driving north on Scottsdale Road, and I absentmindedly turned east on McDonald. Two miles later my next fare was offered. Zones can be pretty large, but my absentminded turn put me within a 1/2 mile of the address.

This fellow punked me good for Fool Day 2012, and he and the next two passengers perfectly positioned me to lend a ride to someone who needed it.

The Setup

The second passenger passenger had two government-provided vouchers (which cover 80% of the fare, up to $10), and asked to go to Fry's grocery, that I wait for him, then take him home.

As we were leaving his apartment complex he offered that I had a tail light out. "Again? I just fixed that!" As I was driving down Scottsdale Rd 18 hours earlier, a fellow cab driver honked, rolled down his window, and yelled that I had a light out. I dutifully went to base a few hours later, and the yard attendant found the bulb had fallen out of socket.

"April Fools!"  He was quite proud of himself, and I laughed too.

I dropped him off near the door, parked, then went in to get a snack for myself. First I looked for my passenger, to tell him to wait at the entrance for me. He had the bag of ice he'd mentioned getting, and a little bottle of Jack Daniels.

This passenger used to be a cowboy, then worked at his friend's cowboy school. He'd broken a lot of bones in this career, and his gut was just like my ex-father-in-law's (who'd broken his back by falling out of a tree). I guess he probably needed the alcohol.

The next two guys were going to a bar on Scottsdale Rd, and were less than 200 yards away. I sat for a few minutes just off Scottsdale Road, after dropping them off, when another of the company's drivers parked nearby to take a cigarette break. We exchanged a few words - he said that Sunday leases are free if you lease every other day of the week, and that the fares are free too (usual price: $2, or $0.50 for AHCCCS fares). I'd read something about the seventh lease in a week being free, but didn't realize fares could be free on Sunday too.

Before long a pedestrian approached. The veteran driver saw him first, and noticed that he was looking for a ride. He offered the pedestrian to me, because I had arrived first. This passenger took me south, to a bar. He comes to Arizona for 10 days at a time, is from Ontario, Canada, and works in ... Alberta?  I asked if he works in the oil sands, and he confirmed that this was the case.

The system next asked me if I wanted to go to zone 307, which is Tempe. It was farther than I would have liked (3.8 miles), but a fare's a fare, and my 'intuitive check' said to take it.

Stranded at the apartments

When I approached the location, I recognized it as the place where the entrepreneur has his loft/workshop. Called my passenger, and determined that she was on the other side of the building.

After I pulled up, she stood outside the car while she held the phone to her ear. She said she was trying to call her mom, to verify that someone would pay for her to get home. But mom wouldn't pick up. I asked where home was and plugged the address in the GPS. It was about 5.3 miles, or 1/9th a gallon of gas.

I told her to get in, that the trip was on me if mom wouldn't pay. She'd come to the apartment complex two days before (Friday, probably), and had become stranded. At one point someone dropped her phone in the pool. I mentioned that 5.3 miles is within walking distance, but this had not occurred to her. Or maybe she just needed to hear what I had to say.

She's a senior in high school, and has a job working at a piercing store in a mall. Apparently she pierces lots of babies' ears. I told her how sailors in ancient china would pierce their ears in specific locations to improve their eyesight, and suggested she look up the ear acupoint charts so she could provide better service to the babies.

Then I brought up energy psychology, which is acupressure for the emotions. Apparently her mom and doctor have just started her on a drug that turns her into a zombie, and that she doesn't like it very much. Don't remember quite what she said it was for, just that she doesn't feel right on it.

The Dancer and Her Patron

The next fare was at Motel 6 a few miles away. I noticed tattoos on her upper chest (no cleavage, just tatoos, fyi). She said to take her to the Cabaret, but didn't know exactly where it was. I headed towards the intersection she offered, then turned toward the Interstate, and eventually found the establishment.

I asked if she was a dancer, and this was indeed the case. She said she'd wanted to do it since she was little, and that the money is good. I have a friend who, uhm, "advertises on backpage" for, controversially-legal services (easily confused with a handjob), and that she usually gets impotent men aroused, so that was part of my chatter.

She called me just after I accepted the next fare - forgot her stilettos at Motel 6. I guess I should've called dispatch and gotten them to take back the fare I'd accepted. Oh well.

A few fares later I arrived at an apartment complex. The dispatch screen said "call passenger", but I got an error message from his cell carrier. I called dispatch to ask if he had any more information. He tried to call the passenger too, and also was unable to connect. He offered to take me off the call, but by this point I'd found an open gate, and said I'd try to find the given apartment number.

There must've been 12 or 20 buildings in this complex, and all the apartment numbers required getting out and approaching the doors. Eventually I found the apartment, a short walk from the parking lot.

The passenger came out, and was irritated that I hadn't called. I couldn't understand him because his english was accented with african gibberish. Where are we going? "alkduf dufje y djufh dj". I approached the main street and asked "Left or Right?"  He indicated left, and I took off slowly in that direction. When we got close to the Interstate I finally understood something: he thought I was the slowest driver ever. "I don't know where we're going!"

Finally, out of the gibberish, I was able to deduce that the present passenger was going to the same cabaret as the dancer. With this new insight, I sprinted towards the destination, which was now only a few hundred yards away.

Definitely not worth $6.

A petty thief finally gets his candy

My last fare for the night was at a Circle-K, where he'd gone to pick up some candy - M&M's.

Apparently he'd just been bailed out of jail. Three days before, on Friday, he stole a blunt from the guitar case of a street performer. Then he grabbed an old bicycle and started peddling. Cops appeared out of nowhere, and the owner of the bike had them press charges.

He said he probably could have offered the street guitarist $10 for his blunt, which would've been a lot less than the $1000+ his weekend cost.

It took me a while to realize that his sort of candy, "M&M's", isn't actually sold at Circle-K.

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