Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Grinding It Out

Though my purpose is multiple, the primary reason I have been writing this blog is to show what taxi is really like, factual taxi, and just like the blogs name, it is an unblemished description of the glories or not of the total taxi driving experience.  Given that, today is a portrayal of what it takes to make money, to make or "construct a shift" as I call it.  It takes skill and a grim determination to make money despite all odds against you. This story begins this past Saturday morning at about 3:40 AM. You will see clearly all the fun I wasn't having.

I am booked in Zone 270, which is the greater area just south of the stadiums.  Still loading my taxi for the weekend I hear the computer beeping at me, offering me a fare.  It is in an adjacent area, zone 505, and despite some difficulty in getting the computer to  take my acceptance, I get the fare, an airport time call for 4:00 AM next to the old Farwest taxi lot.  Great I said but oh no! as I arrive, seeing that another Yellow cab has already arrived, a sure sign that the call was double-belled.  Sure thing as the passenger apologized over the telephone.  What happened is a too typical occurrence.  The passenger called to confirm his time call and the call taker put it out as a new call.  Happens all the time and the driver is impacted without any compensation other than getting your first position back.  All you can do is attempt to remain calm. There is literally no other option.  Getting angry achieves nothing whatsoever other than breaking your concentration.  That you don't want to do because the unbalanced taxi driver just topples off that high wire.  And there is no one to rub your head!

Unfortunately,  I became marooned in the 270, finally leaving after patiently waiting for nearly a hour.  Sometimes you just have to leave first up and I did, heading to the University District.  I was muttering to myself before finally getting a 5:30 AM time call to Sea-Tac.  Thank goodness I got $42.00 after losing almost two hours.  Okay, I say to myself, my weekend is finally started.  With only working 2 days a week, the pressure upon myself is intense.  I literally can not afford to fail.

Clearly it is a "slow-going morning" and I make it all the way back to the University District, a good 16 or so dead-head miles to pick up a young woman needing to catch a south-bound bus at 2nd & Cherry.  I get her there in plenty of time.  She was attending a remedial driving class in the city of Lakewood which is south of Tacoma. By taking the eight hour long class she beats her "running the red light" ticket.  I got $17.00.

Heading to the West Seattle zone 260  I quickly get a "freaked-out" gentleman who has been waiting nearly a hour and didn't want to miss his train to Vancouver, BC, Canada.  I think he was dumped.  I told him not to fear and got him to the King Street station in about 8 minutes.  He was extremely grateful and gave me a total of $21.00 for my efforts.

Noticing that there was a bell sitting in zone 152 (University Hospital) I bid for it then flew over there to deliver a package from U Hospital inpatient pharmacy to Children's inpatient pharmacy.  It is a bit of a pain as you have to get a security badge made up at Children's but hell! it was another $14.00 though I was beginning to burn a lot of gasoline flying like I was searching for fares.  That is what I mean by grinding it out!

Quickly got a fare in zone 155, a stranded kid at a bus stop, taking him for $7.00 just a block away from my favorite U District coffee shop.  All this running requires an artificial boost. 

Soon thereafter I get a much better call in the 155, a young yoga instructor going up to Lynnwood for an all-day yoga seminar.  With tip I had another $42.00 and I later picked her in the early evening for another $42.00.  Nothing like taxi miles adding up.  This particular weekend I spent over $200.00 dollars on fuel.  Lots of fun.

Calculating the time, I realized that I had better head back to West Seattle for my Vashon Island ferry personal which averages a cool $50-60.00 dollars during a quick 40 minute round-trip.  But it meant dead-heading a good 20 or more miles southward. .  I really like the couple, Shona & Michael, and this time it was $55.00 dollars.  I was catching up to myself.  All my complaints flew out of the taxi door. All I could do my focus and shut up and keep driving.  There was no alternative.

My next fare was a family going to San Francisco with their dog from the West Seattle zone 260.  Forgot the pooch's name but he was great, a very spirited dachshund-mix.  Nice people and wonderful dog resulting in $50.00 dollars.

Coming back I noticed the Queen Anne (zone 170) was moving and immediately got another Sea-Tac run.  This was more like it!  Bunch of young folks in town for job interviews. Another $48.00 dollars!

Coming back I got a Georgetown bell going to Belltown.  They were in these amazing Mardi Gras costumes, covered with beads and wearing masks and it was still morning.  A very pleasant couple translating into $22.00 dollars.

And there you have it, taxi at it finest or worse.  And as I have been losing the last paragraph twice over, I better stop before I lose my mind, which I am about too!

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