Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Birthday Present of a Friday Night

The night before my birthday this year went unusually well cab-driving-wise. I usually have a couple things lined up to do every afternoon, but I try to squeeze a couple of jobs in before 4:30 to make more of my lease payment before 7pm. One of my goals is to have my lease paid for, one way or another, by around 7 or 8. Not necessarily all in charges, but covered. So I got a fare near the cab lot going clear across town to Cambridge Street to the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Then right nearby on Southgate Street, I got someone needing to go to the Family Health Center at City Hospital. And then I went on to my regular schedule of things.

I bring guys who are guests of the House of corrections back from their work release job every day. It's a nice chunk of a flat rate job. The guys are nice to talk with. One tells me all kinds of awful, off-color jokes along the way. One guy often has assinine stories about him driving around, smashing up cars, basically behaving like a baboon. The jail guys are generally harmless. If they weren't, they probably wouldn't be allowed the privilege of a work-release job, which, after they finish their sentance, they may have the option of keeping which will help them pay their bills and stabilize their lives so that they don't end up back in jail again.

After dropping off at the jail, I sometimes have other jail guys to deliver to their work-release job OR maybe I go to Great Brook Valley to pick up someone at the health care clinic or, like tonight, I haul ass on over to the UMass area and pick up a woman who takes the cab to & from the train station. Miss D is one of my regular customers. I don't always get to pick her up at her research job, but we have good conversations about all kinds of stuff which makes this job all the more satisfying.

I lucked out and I got one more fare nearby the train and then I got to pick up Mrs. Kneeland who is a customer I first met on my first day of taxi cab training. Mrs. K goes to visit her son every day at the long term care facility he resides at. He is paralized and was rendered so as a police officer and was shot while in the line of duty. Mrs. K is someone who I've had conversations ranging from trips we've been on to relationship issues, etc. Great person to talk with. She's the kind of customer who I make it a point to get OUT of the cab, open their door for them, help them with their bags, etc. Her fare isn't all that much, but she's been taking cabs regularly for so long, she deserves that step-up of treatment.

I had a new regular customer lined up over on the Worcester / Shrewsbury line. This is a woman who goes to various AA and NA Meetings allover Worcester multiple times during the week. So tonight, I raced on out to pick her up and she was going clear across town to Quinsigamond Village for a meeting and needed to be picked up later. That's a solid $50 round trip!

I did $21 worth of work inbetween dropping her off and picking up again, one of which was a pair of people who flagged me down on Pleasant Street by the daisy Fresh Laundry. All they wanted was a ride up over the hill because they didn't want to walk it. $5.00. Whatever. More money in my pocket and a simple fare heading the direction I was going anyway.

I bid on and got a charge job going from Brittan Square over to the Umass Emergency Room. I kept reassuring this woman that I'd take it easy on the turns and wouldn't drive too fast and reminded her as to how close we were to getting to the E-R, for fear that she might vomit, ugh...

I lucked out and got a guy at Memorial Hospital's main door, ready & waiting to go all the way back to Shrine Ave. off Rt. 12 in West Boylston for an easy $20.

I bid on a customer over near Clark University who works at Centerfolds strip club way out over on Rt. 20. Now some cab drivers seem to drool over women who take their clothes off for money at strip clubs like they are going to want do do things for them or whatever. I see them as paying customers who need a safe, courteous, non-sketchy ride to & from work. If I DON'T hit on this woman left & right, which I wouldn't do anyway even if I wasn't in a committed relationship, I could conceivably get a regular customer who goes a long distance and doesn't skimp on the tip. Lo and behold, she calls me back at the end of the night, we arrange a pick up time and in the end, it's about a $40 round trip.

Skipping over some of the more mundane fares - not that they are boring people, it's just that they are shorter distance fares, quick pick up & drop offs, or hospital-to-lab package deliveries and not really worth listing off over and over...

I did get a random pickup character at Belmont / Edward, though. He kinda snuck into the cab and surprised me. Red flag right there. Then he tells me politely that he needs to go down Main Street around the PIP Shelter. Also a red flag. He gives me money up front at my request, which is good. Then he proceeds to tell me that he's a veteran (of what, I don't know) and that he's about to go back into rehab (for drug use, I assume), but his plan is to move back to New Bedford (bad idea) and tonight, he's going to have one last hurrah. He asks me how much it would cost for a cab ride out to the Worcester City Motel in Shrewsbury. I tell him about $15-17. Then he very politely asks me if I, as a cab driver, know where to buy some crack on Main South, as part of his "last hurrah". I don't know, and even if I did know, I wouldn't tell. He thanks me for my honesty. Pays his fare and away he goes into the night. Hopefully he makes it to rehab. Who knows, though?

Another weird situation... I'm sent out to Commons Drive in Shrewsbury, way out on Rt. 9, in the middle of pretty much nowhere, where if you ddon't have a car, a cab ride is going to cost you a fair chunk of change. I get this 20's-ish woman who tells me she's from New York City originally. She wants to go to Shrewsbury. "You're in Shrewsbury." Oh! Shrewsbury Street. "In Worcester or Shrewsbury?" Okay, in Worcester. Now we're getting somewhere. I run the meter, but just to show her how far $20 will get her - to the UHaul at the base of Shewsbury Street. Along the way, she's talking with her boyfriend in NYC who has previously hung up on her twice for, as she said, "her being annoying". She breaks up with this guy over the phone right there in the cab. Maybe this happens every week with this long distance relationship, but I'm starting to see how out of her element this 20-something grrrrl really is, in pretty much EVERYTHING.

I tell her at the $20 mark, where I stop the meter, that I will be nice and play tour guide and give her the Shrewsbury Street tour, BUT when we get to the end of the long four-lane street, she has to make up her mind as to where she wants to go, because I will have to move on to other taxi work. I drop her off at the end at Victory Cigar Bar / Allgos dessert bar and not five minutes later, she calls me back and wants to be brought back home. Okay, whatever. She basically has blown $40 on a roundtrip taxi cab ride to a street she asked me to bring her to, that is pretty lowkey on a Friday night. She really should have done more research before going out, as I told her. Will she in the future? Who knows. But tonight, she's wasted $40 for no real good reason. On the positive side, she at least got a cab driver willing to help show her around a bit and wasn't hitting on her left & right. And in the end, I got $40 out of this, so...

While dropping off way out in Shrewsbury, I had the sense to call the dispatcher and ask if there were any truck driver time pick-up jobs way out at the Econolodge or Days Inn or Comfort Inn needing to be brought to their respective trucking depots. Thankfully there was! A $15 Econo to Roadway job...

Around closing time, after returning my new Centerfolds regular customer back to her boyfriend and her apt. near Clark U, I park my cab on Park Ave around Club Universe (formerly Lord Vasil's 371 Club, also known as "The Numbers"). After a bit of waiting and watching of drunken chaos exiting this newly revamped nightclub, I get these two totally shallow, vapid, supermodel-ish girls (one of which wasn't even 21 and not even out of her teens AND drinking at Club Universe) who need to go all the way up Grafton Street near Sunderland Road which is a nice distance of a fare. Along the way, one of these two morons gets a cell phone call from some drunken dude trying to get them to go out to the Econolodge and "party" with him and his buddies. The girls don't exactly say "no", they kinda hem and haw and tease and flirt and are so ridiculous to listen to. They are so far removed from the normal customers I pick up. These are the "beautiful people", the ones with disposable income and not a clue in the world except they are gonna go out and party and "do" whoever they want and look all glamorous and fake and... UGH! I hate the sense of entitlement that these people - male or female - exude. I hate that THIS is what society seems to applaud and celebrate on tv and in movies and magazines and in music - the fake, the fast, the flashy, the RUDE, the attitude... ick...

I cap the night off with some lab-to-hospital package deliveries and then picking up some jail guys going back to the jail after a closing shift at a fast food restaurant.

Great night all in all. A wide range of customers and a good amount of money to help me cover my mortgage and other misc bills and fun money for my birthday weekend.

Oh yeah... I turned 39 on Saturday, October 4th.

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