So Much BS And For What

September 4, 2010

Obviously from the title of this blog I drive a taxi. Yeah, I know, public perception of cab drivers is not the most favorable thing on the planet and yes, I know that some of it is deserved. But that does not mean that all cab drivers are jerks, or that all cab drivers are trying to rip people off. Actually it is the opposite. Most cab drivers are honest and come to work everyday like everyone else to just make a living. But unlike most others, when cab drivers come to work they are subjected to a myriad of random (hence the name of this blog) conditions, people, places and things and do so at their own peril.

Case(s) in point ….

A couple of weeks back on a Friday night shift, after driving all night I was jumped in my cab by four little assholes, had a gun put to my head and my money and cell phone taken from me. Does that happen to the average person when they go to work? No, it doesn’t.

About two weeks before that on my way into downtown Boston, I had two crackheads literally open the doors of the cab while going about 25 miles per hour and jump out. Why? Because they didn’t want to pay. Unluckily for them the cops were already on the way as I had called them with the two in the cab because I knew they didn’t want to pay. So as they bailed out of the cab the cops came around the corner, saw the whole thing and arrested them. Ummm, not for not paying me but because of possession of crack cocaine.

Ask any cab driver what happens to them on a daily basis and they can all give you stories like these and much more. Truth is cab drivers hold a job that is consistently ranked in the top twenty most dangerous jobs every year right behind Policemen and Firemen. (At least the cops can shoot back.) Yet we show up everyday and go out into the streets to deal with the general public, traffic and random events, never knowing if we are going to go home at the end of the day.

I sure thought I was a dead man a few weeks ago. To be totally honest, when it happened I wasn’t afraid in the way you might think. I thought for sure they were going to kill me and all I could think of was my kids and my wife. What their lives would be like because of my death. It was very surreal but all I could think of was them and not me. I just handed over everything I had and hoped for the best. Luckily they let me live.

I will be going back out onto the roads tonight just before all the bars close and people need to get home. I am a little more cautious than I was a few weeks ago but the bottom line is my kids like eating and having a roof over their heads and in this economy finding a new job is not easy.

The robbers took more than my money. They took a little of me and they put my family into financial hardship but I will be out there tonight and I will pick up the rude drunks, people with “issues”, quarreling lovers, and everyone else that needs to get home in the middle of the night. And I will do it with a smile and with humor. And I hope that nobody pulls out a gun again.


How To Not Ride A Bike

August 18, 2010

I almost took out a bicyclist this morning.  He came through an intersection running the red light and I had to swerve around him in order to not hit him. This reminded me of an incident that happened a long time ago. An incident that forever changed my view of bike riding in the city.

On a beautifully sunny day I was stopped at a red light. To my left and on the street I was going to turn on to was a UPS truck parked right up to the very edge of the intersection. On the sidewalk heading towards me was a bicycle courier whose path would take her directly across the front of my cab. Also heading in the same direction as the bicyclist was a pick up truck. Because of the UPS truck the bicyclist and the pick up truck could not see each other.

I could see both of them and as the bicyclist approached the cross walk on her bike I noticed the pick up truck had its turn signal on and was going to turn on to the street I was on. It was kind of like slow motion, I could see the accident about to happen. But there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Sure enough the truck turned, coming across the front of the UPS truck not seeing the bike courier and sure enough the bike courier came off the sidewalk into the cross walk directly into the path of the pick up. The truck struck the bike sending the girl into the air landing right beside my cab.

The truck sped away and I got out of the cab to look down at the lifeless body of the courier. I knew she was dead but still reached down to feel for a pulse and there was none.

The police and an ambulance showed up and I along with a number of witnesses gave statements as to what happened.

As much as it was wrong for the driver of the pick up to take off, the accident was truly not his fault. He was driving at a safe speed and had used his turn signal. The fault, if there was one would be to the UPS driver who left his truck parked in such a way as to block the view of other drivers on the corner and as well as the view of pedestrians and in this case the bicyclist of on coming traffic. (Note: The pick up truck driver did turn himself in later.) I also have to give a little fault to the courier, she should not have been riding the bike on the sidewalk.

The whole thing was tragic and a life lost due for no good reason. But it reminds me all the time of how dangerous it is to ride a bike in the city. These days there are many more people riding bicycles and most of them use caution but there are many that seem to think they have the right of way at all times and can do whatever they want. Here in Massachusetts bicycles are supposed to follow the same laws as cars. Yet they do not and there are many accidents because of it.

Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of bad drivers out here but there are more bad bicyclists. And when the two collide the bike always loses.

Drunk And Disorderly

August 17, 2010

When you work the night shift you will inevitably run into people who had been drinking like they were eating Lays Potato Chips,  and couldn’t have just one.  Luckily for me and for the and the human race in general, most people are still nice even though they have had too much to drink. That was not the case this morning.

At about two thirty this morning I pulled up in front of one of the local haunts. There was a cab in front of me and two woman approaching it. One of the woman opened the door of the cab, got in and then closed the door. The other woman looked like she was trying to open the front d,,,oor of the cab and when she couldn’t began to talk to the driver through the window. The driver of the cab must have said something she did not like because she gave him the finger and began heading toward my cab.

Now before I go any further whenever you are in a cab behind another cab and a person walks away from the cab in front of you giving that driver the finger or yelling some obscenity at him it is never a good sign.

As she approached my cab I noticed that she was crying, actually sobbing, and her mascara was running down her face reminding me of Alice Cooper. I rolled down my passenger side window and she bent over and asked “Do you take credit cards?

I replied “Sorry, but our company does not take them yet. Its coming but not yet.”

She began to sob and got angry at the same time. She had the card in her hand and began to yell at me.

“You have to help me! I need a cab! You can take my credit card!”

I just replied “Sorry, but I can’t”.

She yelled some more and I stopped her by saying “Listen, there is a Bank of America ATM right behind you, why don’t you go take the money for the cab ride out of the ATM and you’ll be on your way.”

“Fuck You!” she screamed and then walked away to a bench about 20 yards away.

I was sitting there waiting for a radio job or a walk up when she came back opened the door and got in back. She was waving her credit card around and began demanding that I take her home to Wellesley. I told her if she had fifty dollars cash up front that I would be more than happy to take her but that I could not take her credit card. I again told her to go to the ATM.

She sat there, screaming at me, calling me names I will not put here and demanded I take her and that she was not going to get out of the cab until I took her home. At this point she was kind of pissing me off. I told her she could sit back there all night long if she wanted to but that this cab would never go to Wellesley with out cold hard cash up front first. I told her that this wasn’t a charity and that I had a family that kind of likes eating and there were no free rides and I did not take credit cards. Again I told her to go to the ATM if she wanted me to take her.

She got out of the cab and headed to the ATM. She was having a hard time putting the card into the slot because she was drunk. Meanwhile a fellow cabbie friend of mine pulls up behind me. We both get out and are talking about her. Seems she had already tried this on him bout 40 minutes earlier. As we talked she came out of the ATM booth and began yelling at me stating she would not take my cab. I thanked her. she got into my friends cab and he said “Hey your top here it’s your job” I just told him to take her, that I didn’t want anything to do with her. I also told him to get the money up front.

I got back in my cab and got a job going out to Malden in which the guy gave me $25.00 and he wasn’t drunk and he wasn’t a jerk. I much rather that job than her. I will have to ask my friend what happened on his trip to Wellesley.

Irritating People and Things

August 16, 2010

As in all professions, there are the good and the bad. The cab industry is no different. There are good cab companies and bad ones. There are good cab drivers and there are bad ones. There are also good customers and bad ones. I have decided to do a weekly post from now on “Irritating People and Things”. This is the first post and this weeks entry on this topic.

There is one woman who calls the cab company everyday for a ride from her home to the subway station. I have been sent to pick her up four times and each time the meter runs just north of five dollars and each time she tries to give me a $100 dollar bill.

Now I don’t know if she has a printing press at home but I do know that I do NOT make change for a $100 bill for that small of a fare. I am not a bank and I do not have endless amounts of money sitting around to make that kind of change. I am also not the local 7-11 and therefore do not have one of those machines in which I can push a button to get more change.

Truth is, I think this is her way of trying to get a free ride. I think she is betting on the fact that most drivers will either not have the change or not want to give the change and then will just let her go away without having to pay. I say this because I have talked to others who have taken her and they too have had the $100 bill presented to them.

Each time she has done this to me I have promptly taken the bill and went into the store next to the subway entrance and made change. This irritates her to no end but I don’t care and have told her each time not to try to pay with a $100 bill. Yet she still does. Now that is irritating.

Where are the balls?

August 16, 2010

If there were ever a sign that something should not be built it now comes from Hamas on the issue of the Mosque at Ground Zero. Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of Hamas’s founders said Muslims need to build a mosque at ground zero.

It is bad enough that a terrorist organization is in favor of this mosque being built but there is something much worse. It is our government and our leaders not having the balls to say, “Sorry, you can build mosque’s but you can’t build one there!”

There are those who will try to tell you this is a freedom of religion issue. It is not. It is also true there is no law saying you can’t build a mosque there but that doesn’t mean there should be or that it should be allowed.

I am just wondering why nobody in a position of power in New York is standing up and saying NO. Are we as Americans so afraid of the Muslim community that we can not say no? Is there anyone left in a position of power with a set of balls?

The ruling class here in America seems to have no problem bashing Christians, they seem to have no problem telling them where to get off but when it comes to Muslims their courage is lets say, lacking.

The families and friends of those who were murdered on 9/11 must be furious right about now. I know because I lost nobody close to me and I am furious about this. But everyone from the President down to the mayor of New York and even the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has turned their backs on the victims, their families and all Americans on this issue.

I guess the last great hope we have here is maybe enough Americans will show up on 9/11 at ground zero and the site of the new mosque to block the ground breaking ceremony from happening.

I know I am just ranting here but I’m still wondering, Where are the balls?

Christopher Lloyd

August 8, 2010

Quite some time ago I had the pleasure and surprise to pick up Christopher Lloyd of the TV show “Taxi” and the movie “Back to the Future fame”. He was in Boston doing a play for the summer at the Loeb Drama Center and had gotten in to my cab on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon.

When he got in I knew immediately who he was but in a blond moment could not remember his name.  I said a much to him and he laughed as I struggled to remember his name. To be honest I can not remember if I actually remembered his name or if he told me but after we got that straightened out he asked me if I were available for a couple of hours and I said yes. He said he needed to stop at a few places and get some chores taken care of. I was more than happy to oblige.

It didn’t take long after I threw the meter and put the cab in drive to find out that he was as funny in person as he was on tv and screen. The guy had me laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes. We went about taking care of his business and as we drove around he would make random comments that were hilarious. When we finally finished and I brought him to the place he was staying I mentioned that my kid was a big fan of his in Back to the Future and that he would not believe that he had been in my cab. He asked me if I had a piece of paper and what my son’s name was. I gave him pen and paper and told him my son’s name. When he handed the paper back to me it said, “To (my sons name), See you back in the future,” and then signed, Christopher Lloyd.

I have to say that this was one of my favorite passengers of all time.

Mystic Rosa

August 8, 2010

I picked up three men from El Salvador earlier this morning. Two were going to East Boston the other going on to Chelsea. After dropping off the two on Chelsea St. in East Boston we proceeded to head to Chelsea. The man in the back asked me where I was from and I told him Boston and then asked where he was from. He told me that he was from El Salvador but that he was legal and now a US Citizen, I responded with a “Good for you” and just kept driving.

After a minute or so he began to tell me that he had arrived in the US in 2008 and met his wife here and got married in 2009. I said “That’s nice”. I wasn’t being too social as I had only been awake for an hour and the coffee had not yet set in. He then told me that his wife was here. I asked “Here? Where?” He said she was in the car but she was invisible. I said “Oh” He asked me to say hello to his wife and so not to upset him I said “Hello” he told me here name was Mystic Rosa and I thought that’s why she is invisible because she is a mystic, probably a shape shifter too.

For the rest of the ride he went on to tell me more and more about his “wife”. And at times he would be speaking to her as though there really was a person there. When he did he spoke in SPanish and so I don’t know what he was saying but I’m sure it wasn’t “That’s a beautiful dress you’re wearing there honey”.

At the end of the trip he asked me to say goodbye to his wife and that he was shy. He gave me money for the ride and got out of the cab and stood there for a second as though someone else was getting out then closed the door and walked away. I counted the money he gave me and there was a ten dollar tip there. I guess it pays to say hello to invisible wives.