My focus this week will be upon a most surprising message awaiting me last Saturday morning but before I do that I instead what to concentrate upon some basic psychology governing the industry, namely its interesting permission to do and say almost anything regardless of consequence. I noticed it my very first weekend way back in September 1987 while driving an actual Checker taxicab for Rick P. and his tiny three car company, Classic Cab. Rick himself was a taxi "classic", a true wild man confirming what I know to be the undeniable taxi credo: that any behavior is justified and most of all, money is the final argument and goal. I liked Rick and am past due to say hello again to that complete character but we parted ways just before New Year's Eve 1988 because I refused to pay him $100.00 for the privilege of driving that particular evening. My error was being too taxi efficient, Rick feeling it necessary to exploit my success. His loss was my gain as I eventually transferred over to a professional company, Farwest, where the pickings were easy, their business a ripe orchard heavy with fruit. Never had a taxi driver been happier.
Returning to Saturday, upon signing in on the taxi computer it said my ID was inactive, meaning that there was a message waiting for me. This continues to be an annoying habit, preventing you the driver from working when the message could be as simple as "call home." What it means is that you have to ask the driver superintendent to open his/her computer and bring up the message. What the both of us saw was quite surprising. Though pleased that my blog is gaining readership, someone found it necessary to comment upon my good fortune at the VA Hospital, saying in effect that I shouldn't be overcharging the government since I was given two separate charge slips for fares going to similar locales. You might remember that I got lucky when I picked up at the VA Hospital a couple of weeks ago. What made the comment somewhat shocking and odd is that it implied that I or some other driver had the ability to dictate or influence an account fare. All I did that afternoon is what I have done countless times, arrive at a destination and pick up the fare. Coincidentally it appeared, the VA had two patients going to Lakewood and perhaps due to poor communication, had called for two taxis, hence the two vouchers. Double-belling happens all the time. It is an occupational hazard. With staff understanding the situation, dispatch was called and asked if it was okay that I took both passengers. Yes, it was okay, take them. I was then handed both charge slips and off we went to Lakewood. Clearly they could have torn up one of the vouchers and sent me off with one but they didn't do that. Again and again over the years it has been hammered home to all of us drivers that we cannot interfere with an account fare. The message appeared to suggest that it was my responsibility to tell the VA what they can or could do or not. Even a few weeks back, when the VA discharged a passenger off into the night to a closed Greyhound Bus terminal, I did it though clearly knowing it made little sense. It wasn't my place to challenge their decision. I can't remember I or any other driver being given that level of accountability. That is what made the message unique. It was not a suggestion I or anyone else could or can legally undertake. It could easily be our last time driving a taxi. The accounts are ironclad. The message is strict. Don't mess with them. Don't argue. Now you know why I say the best part of taxi is the money you're counting at the end. Everything in between is to be avoided. Clearly someone doesn't realize that what everyone reading here is a variety of journalism, nothing less. As I say, it is taxi in all its facets, good and bad. I do understand objections. Observing the lopsided world that is taxi can be totally aggravating. Perfection unfortunately appears to be in some future century, when taxis will fly through the air at subsonic speeds, yellow blurs defying all commonsense and reason. Kind of what we have now, only slower. May we all hope and pray that all future cabbies will be better prepared. Now it is just add fuel and mix, resulting in the worse indigestion. Humankind wasn't designed to travel at the speed of light or even 70 mph. May we all slow down, exhale, and relax!