Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Passenger Rescue

Yesterday I was offered a fare in zone 242. I accepted, and it was at the nearby Albertson's grocery store. "oh great $6", I thought.

When I pulled up to the grocery store I called the number. A guy came out and said his friend was inside. Friend came out, "do you guys have groceries?"  No groceries - passenger #1 had taken his car to the German car mechanic (Early 90's Mercedes SL, I think). "Take us to Mesa".  Good fare, nice tip.

A few hours later I was asked to come back to Mesa and pick up his friend. First he txt'd me his cc#, then said to just come by where he was (which was different than where I'd dropped him off hours earlier). He paid the fare with a good tip, and I took this woman to the first apartment complex in Mesa. She was going for a tattoo, and said that the artist had been in prison. In literature this is called "foreshadowing".

Today's first fare from this passenger was even better. Then things got weird.

Today the passenger txt'd me at the beginning of my shift, then called. "Are you working today?"   Yup. He wanted to go from Mesa to Scottsdale to get his little dog, then return to Mesa. I picked them up around 7pm. This was a good fare - there were three passengers total. While waiting at the complex in Scottsdale (passenger's father, little dog) I talked to the tattoo artist and his female companion (wife? not sure). She does wigs/extensions. They said all the stuff in their apartment is for sale, and that they are moving to somewhere else in Mesa.

At 1:04am I get a call, "can you come get me?"  Sure - even though I was an hour away, I try to go the distance for passengers, especially the ones who tip well. One hour later I parked at the front of the complex. A few minutes later I get a call, with a request from my passenger to come around back (where I'd dropped the woman off last night).

After several minutes a guy came out, "you here for Jonathan?" Yeah. "He doesn't need you anymore," and he disappears.

Hmm?  Jonathan called me himself after a minute or two. I said that ... "your friend says you're good". Jonathan says something, then the line cuts off.  Hmm? I sit around for a few minutes, dinking around on my new fancy phone. Then I book in, to see if a fare would get offered. I reject the first and the second fare. A few minutes pass and a third fare appears, which I accept.

A Cry for help

Passenger Txt: "man call the cops"
TaxiCabJesus : Apt #?
Passenger Txt: 225 Hurry

I dutifully call 911: "911." "Is this Mesa?" "yes".

I had the windows down, the better to hear my passenger while I was waiting for him. While I'm on the line with 911 (or just before), I hear voices from the balcony talking about how they're "waiting for the cab driver to leave." WTF?

Two cop cars appear within minutes, while I was still on the line with Mesa 911. One cop tells me to get out and come over to the passenger side, and I summarize the situation & show him the txts. They dutifully proceed to #225. After a few minutes another cop car shows up, then another, and another, and another, and the helicopter...

I tried to get closer, to listen in (cop car w/ engine running made it hard to hear from my taxicab), but one of the cops saw me and told me to wait off in the distance.

A neighbor appears. I counted eight cop cars, but she says there are nine. She pulls out her smartphone to ... do something. I tell her how I was perfectly happy with a dumb phone, then my laptop broke... which motivated me to get a Motorola Droid 4 (slideout keyboard) and the lapdock. I proceeded to demonstrate plugging my phone into the lapdock, and then I thought I could use the lapdock as I intended, and began to type up this summary of events for y'all.

I was going to live-blog the event, but then my passenger finally appeared:

"They were going to kill me." He opens the rear door and puts his little dog inside. "hold on a second, okay?"

He comes back with a shopping cart full of stuff. We load this in the back of the cab, and he gets in the passenger seat. The cop comes to my window, "It's your word against theirs. Don't come back here. If they follow you to Scottsdale, call the Scottsdale PD."

I went to sign out of the system, but the fare I'd accepted to pick someone up at Walmart just before the txt message arrived was still waiting. Timestamp on acceptance: 2:13am. Cancellation: 2:56am. Whoops - if this was you, sorry about that.

The other people in the apartment were all ex-convicts. It was 6 or 8 of them vs. my passenger and his little dog. Brass knuckles appeared, etc. "How long have you known them?" 3 weeks.

When we got back to his father's apartment complex my passenger asked, "What's the fare?" "This one's on me."

I would have shot more video of the event, but my phone was in "911 callback mode" for quite a while. Youtube link to follow - watch the comments.

(Followup, with the Youtube Video: Passenger Rescue, Part II)

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