7.09.2006

Hurl

I didn't work Friday night, just didn't feel like it after Thursday. From what I hear, I'm glad I trusted my instincts. Worked tonight, though, and it was okay. Summer seems to have finally caught up with me, but I ended up doing respectably.

While sitting around the garage for two and a half hours to get my name called for a cab (an absolutely thrilling aspect of working Friday & Saturday nights), I got to do some yammering with D. D's about the closest thing we've got to the cliche of a motor-mouthed, wise-cracking East Coast cabbie lifer. Most of our drivers are very much out of the mellow Pacific Northwest mold, with a few African immigrants and misanthropic troglodytes sprinkled in for color.

Anyway, D's a blast, and I always love shooting the shit with him. I tease him about not being fat enough to have really driven a cab for 21 years, he teases me about not being ugly enough to not have a girlfriend. So basically we complement each other through insults. I also give him tips on how to make more money, and he drops "customer service" knowledge on me, some of which I almost used today.

I was telling D that I have a standing rule: if someone's so drunk they can't stand, I won't give them a ride. D tells me that he'll take 'em that way, and'll even take people so drunk they can't give him directions. He takes them all right - he takes them straight to detox. And the kind folk at Hooper will not only peel the drunk out of your cab, but pay you out of their wallet. This is important information to have, especially as Hooper's in a very central location that's essentially at the intersection of three busy zones - not many good fares to there from most bars, but a trip there sets you up for something quick if you're paying attention to the MDT and using the "soon to clear" function optimally (this last sentence is me talking to D, whom I've been trying to teach not to be so lazy with the computer).

Tonight I picked up a guy who almost gave me occasion to put D's tip into action. His wife was with him, though, so we ended up going to their home in Vancouver instead. I pulled up to pick them up in front of the Kennedy School (for non-Portland readers, this is an old elementary school that's been turned into a bar/hotel/movie theater), and the man couldn't stand without his wife's assistence. His boss tried to distract me from this fact by bombarding me with questions about how much the trip would cost while they tried to get in, but this is exactly the sort of situation that locks were invented for. I eventually worked it out with the boss (who'd rewarded his star salesman a little too well) that the trip could potentially get up as high as $35 on the meter, and explained that there was an extra $50 charge for vomit in the cab. He handed cash to the wife, and I let them get in.

I've never had someone puke in my cab, a record I attribute almost entirely to my making it very clear to potential culprits from the outset what the cost will be. It worked again this time, as after we'd gone about 30 blocks the man tapped my shoulder and the wife cried "pull over!"

I did, and about two or three minutes of Linda Blair level theatrics followed (my apologies to those using the bike lane later that night). It was quite a show, and it took a fair amount of self-control not to whip out the phone's video camera function. He really did seem to get it all out, though, and perked up considerably after that in the sense that he stopped moaning pathetically.

They ended up being quite a nice couple, and the wife gave me a decent tip on the $30 fare. They were very impressed with the quickness with which I got there, that I knew how to get where they were going, and was cool and understanding about the whole vomit thing. A lot of talk about how amazing better my cab company is than the others in the area, and it being like a whole new experience. I thanked them, and told them it was by far the most stress-free vomiting experience I'd ever had on the job.

2 Comments:

Blogger Joann said...

Then there is the unexpected. I was taking a family from the San Jose Airport to the city of Fremont when the woman yelled to her husband, "Get it, get it!" I said, "Get what?" Their kid was vomiting.

I keep a barf bag in the side compartment of my driver door. I tossed it back and told them where there was tissue.

It was a long smelly drive but the taxi stayed clean.

July 09, 2006 4:47 PM  
Blogger MJ06 said...

Hey I love your blog but one thing I know up loading pictures on to blogger is a pain in the butt but if you could take out the camera phone more offten I know you have a few pictures on here but I would like to see one of your cabs or your garage.

July 10, 2006 6:23 PM  

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