Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Letter to the Prosecutor

8888 Rattlesnake Blvd
Phoenix, Arizona
(602) 888-0248

Re: State v. Sleepy Passenger
Docket No. 2012986028

To Whom it may Concern:

This is in regards to the charge of 13-1802A1, Misdemeanor Theft.

I started leasing a cab on from [cab company] in March 2012. My primary concern has been to take the best possible care of my passengers.

Over the past few months, I have not been paid by at least 4 passengers for their transit. Mr. Sleepy Passenger has now paid his fare, so he is NOT included among these 4 passengers. There is a distinct difference between the passengers who intended to pay but weren't able, and those who had pre-meditated intent to steal my time and energy.

The first was a 17-18 year old woman who was stranded at an apartment complex in Tempe. Before she got into the cab she tried to call her mother, to see if mom would pay the fare when she got home. Mom didn't answer, so I told the young woman that I would take her regardless of her ability to pay on the other end. We had an interesting conversation.

Another was a 20-something woman I picked up on the reservation. The "friends" she'd been drinking with had locked her out of the house. This woman had called a better friend, who said she'd pay for a cab to bring her to her nearby apartment. But when we got to the intersection where the friend lived, she didn't answer her phone. My drunk indian passenger, with a tone of despair, said "I guess I'm going to have to go to jail."

I don't like to make work for the legal system, especially over such a small amount. I considered the circumstances that put this particular woman under my care, and offered to take the woman anywhere she wanted. She was incredulous that I would make such an offer, so I repeated myself: "The Great Spirit sent me to help you. Where do you want to go?" Fortunately the intersection she gave was only some 10 miles away, and my next (drunk) passenger more than paid the native american's fare with his tip.

I have also had two "sprinters" - passengers who had no intention whatsoever of paying. I picked the first one up at Sonic's Drive-In in Glendale. He thought he could sneak away at the destination, but when I asked him for collateral he ran. The second sprinter was intimidated when I acted like I was going to follow him to the door. I was impressed with how he got over the fence so quickly.

I remember Sleepy Passenger's trip well. I picked him and his friend up at an apartment ccomplex in Mesa. While not entirely sober, both were reasonably lucid when they got in my cab. The friend paid the $10 on the meter when I dropped him off. Mr. Sleepy Passenger informed me that he lived at Alma School and Southern, and I proceeded in that direction.

When we arrived at Alma School & Southern, I asked where to go, but Mr. Sleepy Passenger was unable to answer at that time. I called the friend I'd dropped off earlier, but he did not know Mr. Sleepy Passenger's exact address.

Most of the $40.05 fare accumulated while I drove in circles, trying to get a response from my sleeping passenger. I called the Mesa Police non-emergency number because I didn't know what else to do. The two officers who responded gave me a nice lesson on how to talk to people who have alcohol in their system.

Mr. Sleepy Passenger called me the next day to ask what had happened, because he didn't remember anything. He had gotten my number from his friend. I appologized for having called the police, and said that I didn't know what else I could have done. He offered to pay his fare on this call, and again a week or two latter when I did not immediately take him up on his offer.

On Sunday, June 17th I drove back to Mr. Sleepy Passenger's apartment in Mesa. He paid the $40.05 fare with his credit card, added $5 for a tip, and also tipped another $6 in cash.

Unlike my two "Sprinters" (mentioned), Mr. Sleepy Passenger had the intention to pay his fare when he got into my cab on that particular night in May. Due to the late hour, and his mild degree of intoxication, he fell asleep.

I am quite happy with how the situation has turned out. In addition to the (delayed) payment for his fare, I also learned how to talk to sleepy people under the influence. I also came to better appreciate how people can "take leave of themselves" under certain circumstances.

Yesterday Mr. Sleepy Passenger told me that he works 6-7 days a week, and pointed out his handman truck. Because of the lack of intent, I hope that you will excercise your discretionary ability to drop all charges, so that you can better focus your prosecutorial activities on problematic people like my two sprinters if/when they cycle through your system.


Sleepy passenger sent me a text message this afternoon to say that my letter helped. I called him back, and he confirmed that the charges were dismissed.

(Originally posted to Kuro5hin.org on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 10:55:43 PM EST)

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