Monday, April 9, 2012

20: round-trips, the company cabstand, and a super-debugger

I'm a little behind - I hope it's okay to post two diaries on the same day.

On this evening I found my first passenger at her gated townhouse complex on a major street in north Phoenix. Her destination was a house about a mile and a half away. After I dropped her off, she asked for my card, and said she'd be ready to go back in two hours or so.

The next passenger was a long time in coming. I went to the Desert Ridge Marketplace and bought some mini-carrots at Target. They were rather repulsive (preservatives? manufacturing residue?), but I ate them anyways. My next fare finally came an hour after the previous was dropped off. He was at the hospital, and supposedly had a hand held voucher.


A pickup at the hospital

I called the number on the screen, but the woman on the 2nd floor didn't know anything about the passenger.  She transferred me up to the 3rd floor, and that woman didn't know of him either. Finally I parked, went in the main entrance, and picked up the phone. "Hi I'm looking for my passenger."

The operator had filled out the voucher for him, and said I'd find him at the emergency room entrance. When I found him, I asked if he had his voucher. This was not in his pile of discharge papers. I called the 2nd floor nurse back and asked to be transferred to the operator, who said she'd given the voucher to Debi. I went inside the emergency room, and told the woman behind the glass that I was looking for my passenger's voucher, which had supposedly been given to Debi.

Apparently they just wanted my signature and ID#. Would have been nice if they'd told the passenger that.

Just as we were leaving the hospital, I found a text message on my phone - the evening's first passenger was ready to be picked up. This was 1 hour and 18 minutes after I'd dropped her off. Hmm.

Conveniently enough, the 2nd passenger lived about 1/2 mile away from where I'd left the first. I text'd her back, said I'd be able to get her in about 10 minutes. I'd saved the location on my GPS after dropping her off, so that really helped with finding the right spot.

She'd said something about how I was missing American Idle (Idol?) on the outbound trip... I asked if she was going to watch her recorded copy on her DVR, but she had other plans for relaxing.

Finding the Company Cabstand

The north-phoenix area I was in seemed really slow that night, so I decided to head for central Phoenix. Probably could have made just as much where I was, without all the extra driving, but I'm just an actor in the play.

After arriving in central Phoenix, I parked in a lot and waited. The next fare was a young mexican fellow, who was going to meet his cousin at the club at 99th Avenue and Glendale.

He had just returned from Afghanistan. Army, but he's done with that now. He'd been in the marines before the Army - he re-enlisted because he couldn't find a job after the marines.

The club was in the Westgate district, on 95th Avenue. This is where the Cardinals (NFL) and the Coyotes (NHL) have their stadiums. I've gotten any number of messages about a need for cabs at the "westgate cabstand". After dropping my passenger off, I thought I should find this place.

I found the curb and parked in line. Some people from the parking lot approached my window, but cabstand etiquette says passengers go to the driver who's first in line, so that's where I sent them.

Yet another drunk female

There was a group of drivers socializing up front. Heard some of the other drivers' stories. Apparently the fares from this location can be quite large, and on a busy night there are plenty of passengers. Eventually I was first in line. They were a group of four, but only 3 got in the cab - 2 guys and a rather drunk woman.

I didn't say much, and before long I dropped them off. While driving west, back to the cabstand, a fare offer came that was about a mile or so away. I pulled into a parking lot, put the address in my GPS, and started east again. After a few hundred yards, I realized that this must be the address of the people I'd just dropped off. Sure enough, the group of three was outside waiting for me.

While sitting in the cab, I watched the drunk one lose her balance, fall backwards, and apply a glancing blow to her head courtesy of the rear bumper of a red minivan. Her friend rushed to her attention, and I got out too.

The other friend said that it was her 22nd birthday, and that their 4th friend was an off-duty police officer. He'd only had 1 beer, but the cop had told them they were taking a cab. Ahh, that explains the scene before they got in the first time. :)

Eventually the woman collected herself, and all 3 got back in my cab. She seemed drunker the second time than the first. The only truly wasted people I've had in my cab so far have all been women. Last time I mentioned this, one of you offered that the liver deactivates both alcohol and hormones, and that alcohol increases the amount of estrogen in circulation. This seemed plausible to me, but I'm just a cab driver. Are there other factors that make women more vulnerable to alcohol? Thanks.

The Super-Debugger

The next fare was a no-show, but I got dispatch to cancel it for me. The fare after that was for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and when I showed up no one was there. Dispatch also canceled this fare for me (who orders a cab from KFC at 3am?), so that was nice too - unkind dispatchers force you to noshow more often, which costs me $2. By this point, I basically decided it was time to go home, and started back to my ride share's house.

But another fare offer came in. I was a little wary, from the zone I was in and all the no-shows, but took it anyways. This was scheduled for 4:15am at "The Value Place Hotel" (43rd Avenue and I-10). The guy smelled a little stale when I picked him up, like he hadn't showered in a day or two, and he had me stop at the Circle K.

There was some banter about him getting up every morning at 2am, which is my usual bedtime. His company home office is in Georgia, and he likes to get in at about the same time as a fellow there. He travels 3 months at a time, going around to the company's different cement plants. He upgrades computer software, then debugs it. I guess he replaces a lot of hardware, probably because cement dust is not kind to electronics.

I think superdebugger was the term he used, but I was sorta tired when it was mentioned.

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