Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Night Out on the Town...

Friday night cab driving went better than expected and I owe it mostly to my cab driving philosophy (one of many) that one should DO the job that is given to them. Alot of cab drivers will be given a job to do / customer to go pick up and if they hear of a "juicier" job on the way, will bid on that job (or just steal it) and blow off the original customer they were supposed to get. The customer either calls us back, calls another cab company, makes other arrangements or just gives up, but all of which leaves a bad impression of the cab company in the customer's mind. "Why should I bother calling THOSE guys again?"

So... highlights...

Shrewsbury X-Ray pick-up and deliver to UMass X-Ray on Oak St. nr Belmont Street. Sounds easy enough for $12, but it was insanely busy out and covering hospital charges is, at times, akin to doing the cab company a favor. I see it as easy money NOT involving a customer that might be stolen by another driver. Anyway... While on my way back from Shrewsbury, they really needed a "charge" covered at UMass hospital, so seeing how I was heading that way, I bid on it. I was told to go to the UMass Pharmacy, pick up 3 prescriptions for a specific person, date of birth provided, and deliver said prescriptions to Memorial Hospital (where I was going anyway) to a specific nurse. AND it was on the meter, making all the turtle-paced inadequacies of the nature of dealing with hospitals more profitable for me. (Hospitals are large, slow moving institutions that can, at times, make a cab driver more money simply by being what they are.) So... lots of traffic, delivering 3 prescriptions, dropping off X-Rays, moving on...

No one was bidding on West Boylston & Fales St. so I gave it a shot. She ended up needing to go all the way To Crystal & Illinois for $18.00, plus a $2 tip. Yay!

Sketchy job from 275 Pleasant, notorious address, to Pennywise (inner city store, can redemption, check cashing place on may St.), then "look for this guy" on Main Street (which we ended up not doing) and back to 275. Not bad for $15 flat rate, but sketchy just the same. BUT while on that job, one of my "regulars" called for a ride, so...

Gorged myself on Chinese food from Dragon Dynasty on Highland Street. I didn't know I could polish off a small order of chicken fingers & a small order of house special lo mein in THAT short amount of time!

Random guy in Tatnuck Square going all the way to Prov & Holcombe for $13 ($2 tip, thank you).

No one was bidding on the "credit card job" out at the Solomon Pond Mall, so the customer decided to, as the dispatcher put it, "make other arrangements". I put out a random bid for him and got the job, drove all the way out to the movie theatre at the mall. Turns out I've picked this guy up before, he was now paying $25 cash and when I dropped him at Park & Grove, he gave me a whopping $15 tip! Yow! Merry Christmas!

Best story of the night...

I was at the train station, first in line, waiting on the 9:40 something train to drop off. I get an Asian woman and her young daughter who I think walked over from the DCU Center where they saw Hannah Montana perform that night. She asked me for a reccomendation of a place to eat on Shrewsbury Street. I tried top figure out what they might want and her budget. I suggested the Boulevard Diner because they are cheap, have everything including breakfast and would be a fun, late night thing to do, capping off a fun night out on the town, just mom & daughter, especially seeing how daughter was around 8-9 yrs old. A measly $3 cab ride was paid for with a $10 and she wanted me to pick them up to return them to the train at 11:15 and I could keep the change. Great. I assumed that the return trip would already be paid for out of that $10, but no... They were waiting outside the diner at 11:10, and she paid again with a $10 for the return trip. She thanked me for reccomending the Boulevard and they went on back to wherever they were going.

THIS is what being an Ambassador to the city should be about. Good experiences and reccomendations, creating lasting memories that aren't "ugh, that Worcester place blows", but more like, "wow, that cab driver was nice, didn't hit on me, didn't make me feel uncomfortable or unsafe and actually suggested a fun / good place to eat AND returned on time to pick me up as promised." Worcester is a fun place, I just have to take on the task of "selling" Worcester one cab ride / experience at a time.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Despite the Weather & Financial Crises...

Okay, so I stopped driving cab early on Thursday night, but...

1) I didn't buy ANYTHING at That's Entertainment comic book store on the way home. I stopped, checked out new releases and found nothing, so I left with a new Worcester Magazine in hand.

2) I got home, and read some WoMag, responded to a woman's blog reprinting that was in WoMag, did some more reading, watched endless Law & Order SVU on USA.

3) I read the standard rejection letter, this time sent in by Chris Staros of Top Shelf Publishing, pretty much saying that his company was looking for longer, graphic novel style works to publish, not quick, variety show silliness that Action Geek Black & White is doing. He wasn't being insulting and I WISH I could post / publish his actual letter, but I really respect Staros & his company Top Shelf Publishing, as they put out the stuff I like to read made by creators I'm totally jealous / envious of. Action Geek #6 WILL have, though, as a special centerspread, FULL documentation of MY end of the correspondance to Mr. Staros. (I just love typing his name. Sounds like an intergalactic evil nemesis or something. Staros.)

4) I got around to coloring in two comics for AGBW #6, all about private detective silliness.

5) I started up this blog thing again.

6) I heated up some soup that Jen made a few days ago and ate some buttered bread along with it.

7) I watched the 2nd half of Napolean Dynamite on Comedy Central and fell asleep with lots & lots of little kitties allover the house.

Not a bad night, considering...

Stomped by Snow

I woke up today, Friday morning, to the sound of distant snowblowers and screeching, spinning, stuck car tires attempting to make it up one of the several hills my house is surrounded by. Monday is the only full shift of taxi driving that I've put in this week. Tuesday, Jen & I had what turned out to be one of the worst days off together imaginable (story for another time). Wednesday, I was physically & mentally unable to drive cab, but even if I did, it snowed MORE. And come Thursday, I heard a cab getting stuck up on Drexel Street early in the morning. Several transport vans (one of which picks up people to go to a developmentally challenged rehabilitation place) got stuck on Grenada Street and I worried to myself that it'd be another day of no work and no money coming in.

I originally arranged to have lunch with my mom seeing how I probably wouldn't be able to even get out of my neighborhood due to the conditions of the roads. But then I finally saw plow action on Grenada & Drexel, and they were clearing down to pavement and if they're clearing my streets, then the main ones must be do-able too. Cancelled lunch with mom and went to work early. I got a cab, skipped the weirdly timed but well-intentioned taxi company holiday lunch and drove Red Cab #89 out into the field.

I drove to about Lancaster & Highland and then was called back towards Red Cab Garage to pick up on Sigourney Street to bring a woman to Harrington Corner. From there, I chased a job all the way out to Beaconsfield Rd near my house aand I got one of the "regulars" going to work over at Fairlawn Rehab. I was near Mill Street, so I took a guy from near 1st on over to Chandler & Queen, which got tough because of narrow roads around City Hospital, lots of school buses and general impassability on streets like Kingsbury & parts of King. I then got a guy on King Street going to Freeland and then I lucked out.

I was told over the dispatch radio to call the cab company because the owner wanted to talk with me about something. I was asked "how well do you know Athol?" to which I always reply, regardless of the town being asked about, "I can do it, I've got my maps" and then make a quick reference as to how I'd get out to whatever town it is. I'm routinel asked to do out-of-town jobs because I can problem solve with little help from dispatch and I can read a map, ask questions and figure things out. So, I drove on out to Athol in semi-Western Mass by way of 122 thru Paxton, Rutland and Barre, then up 32 to 2A over to a doctor's office to deliver multiple "packages" (blood work, stuff to be tested) on over to the Med Center Lab in downtown Worcester for a flat rate to be determined later (usually quite a bit for this kind of distance, hopefully enough to cover my lease).

Easy trip, but it was snowing to beat the band on the return via Rt. 2 to 190 to 290. They didn't even forecast the snow that was falling, making driving treacherous. And my stupid cab driver brain kicked in when the dispatcher was trying like hell to get a "job" covered in Holden center. I called when I was at 190 & West Mountain and said I could help out. Turns out it was a woman at Big Y in Holden needing to go with all her groceries to Newll Road in Holden, an easy trip minus the snow, but made longer & more nerve-wracking by slippery conditions.

I gassed up the cab and returned to Red Cab garage. I didn't want to risk wrecking the cab and being responsible for the repairs, etc. It was too slippery out for me to drive. But in the end, after my lease, after $25 worth of gas, I made out with maybe $20 for about 5 hours worth of work. Maybe I'll get a break on my lease. I don't know. This December has been horrible for cab driving, but I know I've gotten better at it. I still enjoy it, but I've got to start bringing in more bucks. My savings won't last forever. I can be as frugal as I can, but eventually bills have to be paid... It's scary.

So I sit here on Friday morning wondering how much, if any, cab driving I'll get in today...

Don't waste another second

I present my credo for stimulation, discussion, critique and dismissal.

No matter how many years you think you may have left, they will not be enough to see, hear, think and create all the things you've promised yourself. Forget about expanding your consciousness, explore the vast singularity of your mind with all faculties intact. Pursue expression with all your might. Draw, paint, play, write, sing, act out, photography, record, analyze, and critique. Never settle for the status quo. Seek out and create entropy from which creativity will flow. If things are steeled, destabilize the situation. If chaos reigns, channel the power and add energy to the flow. Evoke surprise. It is a sign of success. Make them laugh for it brings health and happiness to all. Laugh at yourself and the futility of life. Never be patient. Never bend to control. Even the perverse can be uplifting. Even the horrifying can be beautiful. Be ready to blow it all up and check out in a blaze of glory.

The Brain Stimulation Institute