Hey, Cabbie!

Published: 26 February, 2013 - Featured in Skin Deep 222, March, 2013

Hey you – with the glasses. I know you can read. I know you’re game for something a little different – it’s assuming a lot, but as a reader of Skin Deep, you should know by now that anything can happen around here. It’s the nature of the beast, right? A while back, I was sitting with David Marden (sometime photographer around these parts) pouring sugar into a latte that was far too strong for its own good, and he tells me that he’d started driving a cab out in his hometown in New England. A tattooed cab driver? Imagine the tales… dream of the conversations he might have… rest easy soldiers of fortune, I have recruited him off the meter so you need imagine no longer.

OK, so as most of you know now, your pal Davie has been driving a cab lately as a way to supplement my income. All in all, it’s been an interesting adventure so far – a lot of hustle has been required to make ends meet. I never thought I’d get rich doing this, but it’s giving me some great stories so far and it’s only been two weeks. I guess I’ll start right in and give you fine folk my first favorite three.

So there I was the other day going to pick up a lady at a local apartment complex when all of a sudden, a very pregnant Spanish lady comes waddling up to the cab. She gets in and I ask her where she’s going today: “Hospital, and quick,” she says. I look in the rear view mirror and see this look of pain on her face and she’s pouring sweat. Trying to be the good guy that I am, I ask her how far along she is and her response was “three minutes” – in other words, her contractions were three minutes apart.

I hustle her on over to the hospital, get out of the cab, open her door and yell for an orderly. He comes over with a wheelchair just as I get the young lady out of the cab. As she’s sitting down on the wheel chair a gush of fluids comes rushing out from the bottom of the chair. Talk about speedy, on-time service. I called the hospital later that day to check on her and found out she had a baby boy and both were doing fine. I guess it was better for her, the baby and myself that she didn’t pop until we got to the emergency room.

It’s not all new borns and such in the life of a cabbie. The other morning I walked into the office and they gave me an airport run first thing. Fantastic, they’re quick, easy money and a great way to start the day. I did the normal cabbie thing and made small talk with the customer asking about where he was going, what he did for work, etc., doing the old butter up. When we got to the airport and started doing his bill, the printer on the credit card machine wasn’t working. It spun and said it was printing but nothing came out. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, yes there was paper in it. I tried re-adjusting the paper and still nothing. I thought it might be the print head so I went to take it out and reset it, and wouldn’t you know it the cartridge broke in my hand leaving me looking like I just had finger sex with a smurf.

At this very moment, a state trooper patrolling the airport pulls right up behind me, gets on his microphone and starts screaming (well it sounded like screaming to me), “Let’s go cabbie, you’re taking too long”. Nothing like adding some stress to the situation and yeah, I felt the pressure. The customer’s card was accepted though and other than me needing a signature he was good to go. I had already placed his luggage curb side and decided to throw a new print cartridge in, and wouldn’t you know it, this one breaks as I’m opening the package. So now my hands were ultra blue. So I told the customer I’d write him a hand receipt and meet him on the curb in a minute. After getting the receipt filled out and getting out of the cab, I decided that I’d show the cop my new blue hands. As I held up my hands (not in a ‘giving up’ kind of way) he laughed and told me to carry on. After that I looked for the customer and he and his luggage were gone. Now I needed that signature, I knew he was flying American, so I went in, found him and got the signature.

As I got out to the cab, wouldn’t you know it there were two TSA agents checking this ‘unattended’ taxi out. After explaining the situation and showing them my hands, all seemed cool again.

Now, one of the things that I noticed, is that there are a whole lot of crazy people that take taxis. I know that there are a lot of crazy people in this world and it’s no wonder that they don’t drive themselves around, but man alive do cabbies have to deal with some winners.

I get a call at the end of my shift the other day to pick this lady up for a round trip to the drug store and back to her apartment. I pull up out front and this lady comes up to the cab, puts her face right against the window, stares at me for a second then gets in. Under her breath she swears then says, “I don’t know you.” I explain to her that I’m new and I’m glad to have her in my cab. She proceeds to tell me that she doesn’t want to have small talk and doesn’t want to know how safe of a driver I am because that makes her nervous.

On our way to the drug store she is mumbling under her breath exactly what I should be doing, brake, slow down, slower now, directional, and left turn into the parking lot. This made me more than a little uneasy, but hell, she’s paying for the ride. As I pulled up in front of the store, she starts yelling at me – telling me that I’m screwing with the meter. I proceed to tell her that the meters are calibrated and sealed by the town and there’s no way that we can change or do anything with the meter without breaking the seal.

This lady goes into the store, does her business and doesn’t come out for 15 minutes. Now, the meter’s running the whole time she’s in there and it’s up to $25 at this point. I open the trunk for her stuff and get the door for her. She slams the trunk and tells me it’s too hot back there for her stuff and doesn’t need me to get the “fucking” door for her, she’s not a cripple. Once she was in and mobile again, this lady looks at the meter and starts screaming that I’m trying to rip her off because when she went into the store the meter only read $6.50. I explained that the meter stays running when she’s in the store and not only do they work on mileage but they also register time.

The whole way back to her place she was bitching about how I’m trying to steal her money, so I write down on a company business card my name and the cab number I was driving and informed her that if there was a problem please feel free to call the company and express her concerns or complaints and someone at the office will be more than happy to help her out. This little bit of kindness just set her off even more and she threw the fare at me and refused the business card saying that it wouldn’t do any good because we are all mafia hoodlums.

As you can tell, if anything, this is going to be an interesting job with many awesome stories I’m sure. It’s going to be my mission to get some of these stories down and share some of this cabbie wisdom with you fine people. I’ll get more into things like tipping, me being sexually propositioned for an $80 cab ride, and more. Hopefully I can keep your attention long enough and maybe give you a good laugh along the way. But in the mean time, my meters running and I gotta drive an old lady to bingo. So cheers to you and get out of my way you bum!


Text & Photography: David Marden