Sunday, August 18, 2019

Taxi Do's & Don't's Conclusion: Working Hotel Stands & Zones

While concluding my self-styled series of what the alert cabbie should do, I remain doubtful I have captured even half of what is required to successfully drive a cab.  Each week I experience something new and different, meaning I could live to be one thousand years old and still be surprised, pleasantly or not, by who is stepping into my cab.  Later I will relate to what happened on my one and only ride from Wednesday's Rolling Stones concert to a Pierce County address located outside of Bonny Lake, knowing I would have handled it far differently in 1989 than I did 30 years later upon a August 2019 evening.

In other words, I can provide the greatest suggestions possible but my written instruction never replacing the 200,000 plus road miles required to make anyone a truly prepared and professional cabbie.  Each month I put 5,000 plus miles upon my faithful 1092, each mile more fully inscribing the living taxi tutorial upon my fatigued brain, hopefully translating into even better performance.

And Wednesday might have proved I remain the good student, having my first three one-hundred dollar-plus fare days in my long 30 year taxi career, those three fares adding up to $380.60.  Some like to say "taxi is dead" but I see everyday that instead, we are very much alive and, day by progressive day, regaining our industry footing, constantly meeting passengers who say they will never again take Uber to where they need to go.  And in fact we often prove to be cheaper, Uber charging $70.00 from the Pier 91 Cruise Ship port to Sea-Tac International Airport while we'll get you there for $47.00, lessening the financial incentive to skip good, old taxis.

More Money Making Strategy: Working Hotel Cab Stands & Taxi Zones 

My first more or less two years, I worked independently, meaning not for a large association, something translating into only a handful of dispatched calls and prompting a daily search for the best place to get that elusive fare.  Often, like all the other independents, I would usually end up upon a hotel cab stand but which hotel to chose was the question of the moment.  Pick wrongly and you could end up sitting for hours, going, as it is said, nowhere fast.  This is when I discovered that taxi was a kind of science, with investigation required to understand the functional biology of finding a fare.  Like all investigative research, repetitive testing is needed to know just where and when to go.  As should be obvious, each day and even hour is changeable, making it essential you are aware of what you need to do and why you are doing it.

The cab stand "player" then knows which convention is in town, how many in attendance, and when it is leaving, and of course knowing which hotel is full or not.  To not know these facts can kill a day, which is why so many cabbies "die upon the stand," never truly understanding what hit them.  In short, as I have said elsewhere, the successful cabbie is ever alert, paying attention to what, business-wise, is occurring around him/her.  One method, which I never liked, and have found too painful, is to sleep upon the stand, waiting for the "early, morning airports."  While sometimes successful, it leaves you ragged and weary, making you feel like "death warmed over" which is an awful feeling, making the money you earned harder than it needed to be.

Picking a zone to book into is similar, knowing your city's particular demographics essential, pertaining as to why the local residents are taking cabs or not.  Just like the hotel stands, fares might come out at 5:00 AM but it might be completely dead twelve hours later.  So what I am saying is, know why something is occurring minus as little guesswork as possible.  I have known taxi buddies, longtime 20-30 year veterans who neither knew or cared about what I have just told you, and were, or are forever complaining about not making money.  When errors are pointed out, "go to hell" is their usual response but it's them instead assigned to taxi's nether regions, damnation and perdition their sorry fate, Uncle Screwtape their happy sponsor.

In conclusion, taxi is a damn hard business if you insist upon driving in proverbial circles day after day.  My advice then is don't, don't do it.  Instead, think, think, and think again about what you are doing.  And if one strategy fails, try another until you succeed because succeed you will, I can promise you that.  I do know, for better or for worst, all about it, and before I forget, which I did, I'll relate my short story of how knowing what you are doing makes all the financial difference between making $180.00 or driving back to Seattle angry as hell and out all that time and money.

Post-Rolling Stones

He staggered into the cab, flattening out upon the backseat, saying he was going a long way southeast of Seattle, over halfway to Mount Rainier.  In other words, this was going to be a very good fare.  When I was a rookie, I would have demanded money up front, and if it wasn't coming, he would have been out of the cab and on his way but the years have taught me how to gauge a passenger no matter how inebriated he or she might be.

The ride was great, the passenger totally out but of course knowing trouble awaited once I had to wake him out and discover just exactly where I was taking the disoriented fellow.  And problems I had, the guy screwing up his debit card pin number, and worse, vomiting up beer.

But it all turned out okay, avoiding all those cars whizzing by on State Highway 410, including a local cop who stopped to inquire "just what was going on?"  Once halfway sobered up, my passenger, the good guy he was, directed me to his house where the wife wrote a check for $180.00, $20.00 of that for necessary cleanup.

It was all cordial though their dog considered the canine wisdom of biting the intrusive cabbie standing in the kitchen.  But hell! who could blame the pooch, so rudely awakened in those early morning hours.  As for me, I remained cheerful yet tired, eating my "meal-of-the-day" at the Bonny Lake Denny's, the waitress great, a true professional serving me my T-bone steak and eggs.  I couldn't complain, everything fine upon an early taxi morning, good money made and certainly ready to go home.  What else can I say?  Nothing whatsoever is the answer.

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