I get a text chiming my iPhone, but I’m half asleep so don’t look.
My alarm is set for 4, but I always anticipate it and wake up naturally a couple of minutes before.
(Must not allow grating sound of alarm to penetrate skull…)
I’ve customized the alarm-tone on my phone to be as soothing as possible. But “soothing alarm tones” are an oxymoron.
I check the text.
It’s from Christian – night driver friend and Spermula band mate. He says two really drunk girls are going to Vegas and need a ride to the airport around 6am. He drove them last night and gave them my number for a ride – adding that I should be nice, as he’s exchanged numbers with one of them.
Christian’s been saying for years that women in the cab always want him. (Yeah, horny Marina girls missing sorority-life hailing a cab after last call.) But Christian had a longtime girlfriend until recently (see novel #2), and now – post-girlfriend – says he hasn’t taken up any of the multitudinous offers on account of shyness. (In part due to a small dick, apparently.)
Anyway, his future ex-wife & company do actually call me on my way into the lot (surprise!), but they hang up after only two rings before I can answer the phone. I call right back and get voice-mail. I wait a few seconds and call back again… and get voice-mail. I go to leave a message, but they call me right as I’m hearing their outgoing.
It’s too early for this. Communication is virtually impossible, and I haven’t had coffee yet.
I jump to end the alcohol-fueled game of tag in hopes of bagging an early morning airport; I ‘End Call & Answer’ to a very drunken speech-impaired “Brooke” complete with an equally drunk alpha she-male screaming instructions in the background.
Eventually, we conclude they live somewhere out near 27th & Geary… and can’t wait the half hour for me to get there. I wish them a good time in Vegas and hang up, feeling I’ve just dodged a bullet.
I’m at the lot and back in the office.
Floating a five, I ask Bryce the Dispatcher if he has any airports for me. He just guffaws all incredulous, saying I know better; it’s too late to be asking. Indeed, all the SFO reservations have been handed out already. But, jeez. It’s 4:45am!
Aside: In these cases I often still pursue the $5 bribe, as I’ll many times later get a call out on the road to my cell with an airport that’s just phoned-in, but not always. It’s a gamble.
Anyway, while I’m back in the office hangin’ by dispatch, the Citizen’s phone rings. (Orders are taken over speakerphone, so all in the office can hear.)
It’s Brooke! She’s asking for a cab to SFO with her alpha she-male friend still drunk and loudly micromanaging in the background.
Bryce asks for an address.
Aand Brooke replies,
“Fee-Frr-Ttt-nn twwwwent-svnt strit.”
Looking around confused at everyone in the office, Bryce again hits the speaker-phone talk switch and again asks Brooke for her address,
“Tehh won eye jusss toolll yooou!!” returns Brooke.
I now start to ponder the wisdom of Christian’s choice of genetic match… and stop to envision their offspring.
(See Alex scratching his chin and looking toward the ceiling in wonder.)
I have witnessed ‘happenings’ in the office before. Citizen’s dispatchers are most often very professional and accommodating. Generally, they actually care about their clients. Go figure.
But I have also seen some shortness, followed by boisterous group laughter, and culminating in the abrupt abortion of a call following said laughter. Sometimes it’s deserved though. Like the dude who called for a cab to come get him, who when asked for an address simply responded that he was “on a corner in San Francisco”.
So, the day has begun. And with no airport.
I casually head off on my morning routine; to Starbucks…
There’s a new guy at the counter and I order my usual Tall coffee. (Heh, “Tall”.)
It’s always $1.50, plus tip. I always just leave the 50-cent difference from two ones for tip. Seems nice and clean. And most importantly, there’s no thought involved.
But today, Barista Boy nervously informs me that the cost of a Tall has gone up 15 cents (even though the signs haven’t yet been changed to reflect this).
My brain seizes.
This transaction now involves thought. And I haven’t had coffee yet!
Do I add some kind of coin change (which I don’t keep on me)? Or do I break up another bill into some kind of change (which I don’t want on me) to account for the tip? Or does Barista Boy just lose on this one and still just end up with my $2 total?
It’s just a small, er Tall coffee. Does this even matter??
I go with stiffing him.
Fuck. This is totally gonna curse me as a cab driver. Karma’s no doubt got me in it’s cross-hairs for payback now with my tips. Oh, well.
This whole experience has put me off now. This is all a complete violation of the unwritten rules of pre-dawn exchanges pre-caffeine!
This might even be worse than when the last new barista guy asked me if I wanted “Kenyan Gold”. Still drowsy, I mindlessly slurred out a “sure” assuming it was one of the two regular choices for a buck-fifty. But dude proceeded to go hand-make over several minutes time a single cup of thousand dollar coffee. I told him, “Wait! All I need is the peasant juice. There’s been a misunderstanding!”
Who in God’s name at this hour needs some gold-plated coffee procured from beans extracted from the excrement of a wild cat in Indonesia?! (Kopi luwak, look it up.)
Bryce calls with an airport. Things are looking up. Score!
The order’s on some obscure street at the top of a mountain on the outskirts of San Francisco near Candlestick, on the south side of the mountain – closer to the airport.
But, I’ll take it.
After phoning me, protocol has Bryce sending the order to me proper on Cabulous, which does have GPS. (The order’s not located in cab central.) But I opt for directions from my iPhone. No good reason.
Hmm. But I have to be back at home (Post & Baker) at 7:20 to pick up the kids and take them to school in the cab. (They love going to school in the cab.) Taking an airport now is cutting it close, but I should make it barring a problem.
I always call the kids at 6:30 with a Barney-esque ‘wake up’ song I wrote that half gets them up (and moaning for me to stop singing) before proceeding to yell at them to shower, eat breakfast and brush their teeth.
I inevitably get sporadic calls back from them over their morning routine regarding various nonsensical fights – perfectly timed for when I have passengers, of course. I just resign to keeping my Bluetooth headset in over the period between when I’ve woken them and when I pick them up.
Our system usually does works out well, though. I don’t accept an order if I don’t think I’ll be back in time. But once in a while, I’ll get an airport that’s running late.
So, I make it over the mountain and ‘Call Passenger’ with maybe a 10 minute buffer for making it back in time for the kids post-drop.
Bitch takes 15 minutes to come out of her house!
That’s it. I have to call the boys and tell them to call a cab.
I leave emergency money in a skull box on a bookshelf for them for these rare instances. And the few times this has happened, I’ve made sure they call Citizen’s so I can track the cab and driver. (Dispatch alerts the driver that they’re carrying “precious cargo”.) It’s always worked out fine. I think it’s good for my young boys to be versed in this kinda thing anyway.
One time though, a new Citizen’s driver went the long way to school and apparently didn’t take well to the diminished tip that resulted. But what’s he gonna do? Apparently, he just scowled at my guys.
I told my older boy if this happens in the future to tell the driver that their “usual ride is 10 bucks” and to follow-up with a “Do I need to talk to Jesus about this?”
Recall: Jesus is the manager at Citizen’s, and a really nice guy. But he is also author of the schedule. Nobody fucka wit da Jesus!
I should feel good the boys have never had to resort to my training. But I do admit, I’m kinda curious to see how it would play:)
Anyway, the woman who screwed-up my getting the kids turns out to be a lawyer who specializes in anti-discrimination suits. Seems she also used to teach at American University, and it turns out has a burning need to micromanage cab rides (after making you wait 15 minutes).
Hmm. I am interested in law. And I am pretty well informed as a result of NPR abuse in the cab. Could be an interesting conversation…
But, right off the bat, Allred starts-in angrily with making a point of saying how she specifically requested a Military Cab, as opposed to Citizen’s. This, due to an argumentative driver she got last time who it seems “went the wrong way”.
I do NOT make a point about how I’ve been waiting for 15 minutes! And how she just cost me driving my kids to school and a subsequent $10 cab fare of my own to cover! I do think, however, I have a better understanding of how her last Citizen’s ride might have played.
At this point, I figure it best to not let Allred in on the fact that Citizen’s Cab bought Military Cab some years ago, and – despite the different color schemes – she was dealing with the SAME drivers and SAME dispatch. She could even well have gotten the same driver!
We do eventually go on to have an interesting discussion (after utilizing my Zen charms to calm the beast).
I go on to ask Allred if she knows anything about a recent controversial bake sale at UC Berkeley, and the resulting law suit. You may have heard of it? It’s the one where the Republican Club was selling identical baked goods at graduated prices… setting the prices cheaper for minority customers!
Oh My God!
The UC Berkeley Republican Club thought this was a good idea for protesting a new school policy factoring race in admissions decisions.
This has just been my morning. But the day progresses.
Wonder what the afternoon will bring…
(We’ll get back on next week folks, with the ex-dominatrix from NYC who was late getting back from lunch to her job in public health after hitting up a “medical” marijuana dispensary. Stay tuned!)