Well too bad -- or good news, I guess, depending on how you answered that question. You wind up driving a lot of them around, is what I'm saying. Some of the best days I've ever had financially have been when one of those fine servants of the community was in the back seat. Well, I'll pick people up sometimes, and they'll tell me they need to make a few stops on the way home to "drop off some presents" in the middle of March.
Unless they're really into celebrating St. Patrick's Day, or a bunch of their friends all have the same birthday, this is suspicious. Then, after walking into a house to drop off one of those alleged presents, they'll come out counting money. Since I doubt anyone is charging their loved ones for small bags of "rock candy," it doesn't exactly take an astrophysicist to figure out what's going on. Once, a guy in the back offered another passenger some cocaine, and when that passenger motioned towards me with a "hey, remember that guy exists" look, the dealer said something like, "Oh, don't worry about it, he's just a cab driver.
He won't call the cops. Call the cops on my meal ticket, and make a potentially crazy person swear a blood vendetta against me? Other times, I'll get a young woman in the back seat, and she'll have me drive her to a motel -- where she'll ask me to wait outside, with the meter running.
Fifteen to twenty minutes later, she'll come out, and it's off to another motel, apartment, or house. After an hour of this, with her coming back out each time sweaty and disheveled and, on more than one occasion, with a condom stuck to her coat , I start feeling like the most under-dressed pimp in history.
At the end of the day, as long as it doesn't seem like anyone's getting hurt, I'm happy to drive anyone around as long as the meter's running. I once transported a woman to the hospital after she had a seizure, because she refused the ambulance ride which would have been several hundred dollars, as compared to 20 bucks or so for the cab.
When we got to the hospital, the woman told me that her husband was overseas and she was scared to be alone. She asked, "Would you be willing to leave the meter running and come in with me? So she left her credit card info with me, and we went inside, and I spent the next three hours talking to her in the ER. Look, I get it. I'm in the service industry, where on the whole you get treated more like a Roomba than a person, so I developed a thick skin after only a few short weeks on the job.
That said, there is a line clearly demarking the limit of shit that your cab driver is willing to take from you. But when you cross it, you won't necessarily get kicked out onto the curb. We might just charge you for it. Continue Reading Below Advertisement Once, a "gentleman" hopped into my back seat, told me where he was headed, and almost as soon as we got rolling, started with the insults.
But don't worry, all religions equally think you're an asshole. It's up to the driver to hit the "extra passenger" button -- or, as I sometimes call it, the "acting like an asshole" button.
I gave the guy his warning, but once the antisemitism started, I pounded the "asshole" button like Matthew McConaughey playing bongos in a hotel lobby. He went on and on, and I kept pressing that button each time. Wait, had I accidentally stumbled across a new fetish? The company simply paints them, installs the meter, lights, and lettering, and then puts them out on the road for 24 hours a day. But what might surprise you is that it's the driver's financial responsibility to make sure the cabs keep running , because we're usually leasing our cabs from the company.
Since our profits are razor thin, your relative safety level in any given cab is directly related to how much your driver likes eating ramen in an unfurnished apartment.
Continue Reading Below Advertisement The first cab I drove was a Crown Vic with over , miles on it, which is kind of like putting a saddle on an old refrigerator. The engine was tired, I could barely get up to highway speeds, and the transmission was slipping. In another cab I drove, the power steering box was all but falling apart, which resulted in loads of play in the steering wheel -- turning a corner at anything more than mph was a hero's trial.
Yet another car had brakes so worn out that the stopping distance on a dry road was about half a block. Continue Reading Below Advertisement Most of these problems are easy enough to fix if you have the time, but that's another problem: So to cut costs, you learn to fix the problems yourself -- and to minimize down time, you learn to cut corners. I fixed the brakes on my cab in about 15 minutes in a Walmart parking lot, which isn't exactly the type of thing that's going to win you any safety awards.
Continue Reading Below Advertisement I'm not saying that every cab you've gotten into is a death trap; cab companies in bigger cities have their own service departments. But if you're in a small town, it's possible that the only thing between a safe ride home and spinning wildly through an intersection like a roman candle glued to a hockey puck is how much time and money your cab driver was willing to spend making sure the tires are bolted on.
In fact, Business News Daily named it the 10 most stressful job in America, right up there with being policemen, firefighters, and soldiers. Just look at that movie Collateral.
Continue Reading Below Advertisement Most of the stress comes from how we're treated by our passengers. Not everyone talks to us like the angry turbo racist from earlier, but I think a lot of people wind up offending their cab driver without even realizing it. Luckily, it's super easy to be nice to cab drivers. Here's a quick rundown on how to keep your driver from snapping and turning into The Bone Collector: We work our asses off to be on time to pick passengers up, but I can't tell you how many times I've shown up right on time and had to wait 15, 20, or 25 more minutes before the passenger finally came outside.
I'm not getting paid for any of that time, and because I've been dispatched to collect that specific passenger, there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. I just have to sit there, wasting minutes that I could use earning money. Keeping us waiting outside is every bit as infuriating as being made late for work because you're on hold with Comcast, so give us a time when you know you'll be ready to leave.
Continue Reading Below Advertisement Also, let me know if you feel like puking. I'm not gonna be offended or laugh at you; I'll happily pull over and let you shout the contents of your stomach out all over the side of the road. Something most people don't think about when they're calling a cab is how far away the cab depot is from where they live. I often have to drive 25 miles to some backwater town to pick up a passenger, and I'm not getting paid for that part of the trip even though I am expected to pay for the gas it takes to get out there.
Sometimes I start my meter running on the way there. I'm not supposed to, but if I don't, I'm basically running a charity. It may seem shifty, but I have to pay rent. Continue Reading Below Advertisement This may seem obvious to some of you, but don't try to haggle over the fare. Where I live, the cab drivers are mostly friendly with each other, so while we're in between calls, we all tend to hang out in the parking lot of a local restaurant.
While we're all hanging out, someone will occasionally come up between us and try to pull us into a bidding war over the privilege of driving them around to get the cheapest ride they can. Yeah, don't do that. All you're doing is making yourself into that weird kid on the playground whom nobody wants to talk to.
If you really want some kind of break, simply act polite -- I've occasionally given discounts to people who went out of their way to make the ride pleasant. Don't count on every cab driver in the world to do that, but hey, acting like a decent person doesn't cost you anything. Might as well give it a shot.