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Cab Driver Rants, Volume 1

Anyone who knows me will attest that most of the time I love what I do. But every once in a while, there’s that one customer that…for whatever reason, just manages to get under my skin.

Tonight, it was the person at EDITED.  Texting from phone number EDITED. And apparently going to EDITED.

The story goes like this. Right around 2AM, at the busiest time of a Saturday night, I got a text message (yeah, that’s how many of my customers come to me now) to come get someone deep in the hills of Westlake.

I was with a customer, and quite a bit across town at the time so fired off a quick “Busy” message at 1:54am with an ETA (20-30 minutes) & request for confirmation. “Yes” he said.

When I dropped off my current customer, I fired off another quick message at 2:12…”Enroute”, with another ETA (15-20 minutes). This time, all I got was a simple OK.

Thirteen minutes, thirteen miles, and a bit under a gallon and a half later I was just pulling onto the street leading to his house when I got…

“Another cab just arrive, we are good”

2AM on a Saturday night & I’ve just wasted the majority (by the time I could get back into town) of the busiest part of the night. Quickly I pulled over & called him.

“Hello”
“Did I really just drive all the way across town for nothing?”

His response…was to hang up on me.

I’ll admit, I lost my shit a bit at this point & sent a scathing text.

“With that kinda f*#!ing, I’ll be listing you as Dick in my phone”.

Nearly half an hour later I get his response…scathing in its own way. But also very telling of type of character this person has.

“Look it’s 230 am and we want to get Hm. You are a cab that’s what you do. Don’t pretend. We pay you for your f#@%ing ride. Good night.”

It’s like he’s saying “You’re just a cab driver, why should I care”, as though he’s better than me in some fashion.

It’s exactly this entitled bullshit attitude that has caused me to all but swear off of picking up at Fraternity Houses in West Campus, as though any suffering they cause to us is irrelevant because we’re so far beneath them…and now I see it from someone who’d ridden with me earlier in the night & professed to have the time of their lives riding in The Land Yacht.

Normally, I’d let an incident like this roll off my back & just get back to work…but even after finishing my night and getting a good day’s sleep, I’m still brassed off. Not over the no-show, although I’ve got my reasons for being pissed about that.

No, what pisses me off is that response.

So, my message to anyone out there who’s gonna ride with me.

I send those ETA messages out for a bunch of reasons.

  • First & foremost, because I’m a bit obsessive about staying in contact with my customers.
  • Second, obviously I want my customers not to worry. I’ve got their back…and they’ve got a (relatively) ironclad estimate of when I’ll arrive.
  • Third, and most important in this instance…it is done in the hopes of preventing that person from picking up the phone & calling another cab company when they know I’m already on my way.

My first message always gives an ETA and asks for a confirmation. I do this because I don’t want to waste this customer’s time if they don’t have the time to wait. I also don’t want to waste my own time if they’re really in a hurry & I know I can’t meet their schedule.  And I make sure to let my customers know I have no problem with them using another service if I can’t get to them when they need me.

Because…let’s be honest, if he’s being picked up deep in the hills of Westlake before I can even arrive, and still within my original estimate…then he called more than one cab in the first place. Why?

If you “pay me for my fucking ride”, WHERE is my pay? It’s on the way to a destination in another cab, well within the ETA I originally gave you…twice.  In downtown, I might be able to shrug it off (oops, 5 minutes I’ll never get back).  But halfway across town during the busiest time of night?

My message to this person: Do you call multiple sources when ordering pizza? Why would you think it appropriate with ordering a cab? And then why would you think it appropriate to insult or belittle that driver, who you just essentially robbed (there’s no other word more appropriate for what you did)?

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So, someone said I should have pics of the different “generations of The Land Yacht through the years. After all, I’ve been doing this for nearly thirteen years now! So, without further ado…

Generation one was the van given to me by possibly the best friend I’ve ever known, a man I respect & miss more than words can say. Smitty, we miss you, man! So, this was a 1995 Dodge Ram van, one of two that Yellow Cab had commissioned with full-sized wheelchair lifts in the back. Started with a recycled computer tower & an old-style CRT monitor strapped to the dashboard with about a million bungee cables.

Inside
Outside
Wheelchair Lift

I wanna kick myself for not having any pictures of the second generation. After having to leave the business for a little while to recover from back surgery, I had to start over on the ground floor at Yellow Cab, and bought a used 1999 Dodge Caravan (goober-mobile). Here’s a stock photo from Yellow Cab Galveston to give you an idea. After Gen-1, it was a definite let-down, but a step that had to be taken to get back in the game. A year and a half later, though…

Generation 3, with the help of Yellow Cab, I purchased a 2005 Dodge Sprinter. We went through a few builds on this thing before we found one that worked, I couldn’t have done it without a good friend by the name of John O in Dallas. He invited me (and the sprinter) up to Dallas, where we spent two weeks gutting the inside of the van & building The Land Yacht #3 (while I slept on his couch at night).

Outside
Inside

Generation 4, the current generation, is a 2010 Ford E-350 Passenger Van. It took, off & on, over a month of hard work to get it together. I really missed John O’s help on this project, but wasn’t going to ask him to drive down & spend 2 weeks on MY couch…he’s gotta brand-new baby! Although, in retrospect, he probably would have gotten more sleep here than at home with that new kid.



So last night, I’m called by a regular customer of mine, a house-full of cute sorority girls that live west of downtown.

I’ve had the “No more than four” conversation with them before, and remember there being a big to-do about it the first time they rode with me.

Last night, after being called to their house, I show up & they come out & start getting in when I hear one of them say “I hope you’re not mad, but we have five people, my boyfriend Ken’s coming with us”.

I say “I’m not mad”, and go into my spiel about the law limiting the number of passengers allowed in a taxi in Austin when I happen to glance back. She’s holding up her purse, and in the top of her purse is a Ken Doll. She grins at me. “Gotcha!” she sez.

I told ’em I was gonna blog about this.

Let the prank-wars begin!

EDIT:

So, The Bonnie Girls gave me a hard time for referring to them as Sorority Girls.
“We’re all, like, grown up and stuff. So, like, whatever!”
But they baked me cookies, so it’s all good!

This story starts about a dozen or so years ago.

A regular customer of mine, whose identity I’ll limit to his nickname “Daddy-O” had a little 8 year old girl. He & his wife decided that for Little Rachel’s 9th Birthday Party, they’d hire me & The Land Yacht for a few hours so Little Rachel & her friends could roll around & party like a rock-star.

So, the evening rolls around and I roll up to Daddy-O’s house to start the party. Out troops Little Rachel & her friends. I thought it odd that each of them had a package of toilet paper under each arm. Behind the girls came “Mrs Daddy-O” with her handy-dandy camera. Cool, I thought, blackmail material!

Now, I’m sure many of you can guess what we did for the next three hours, but here’s a little back-story Momma told me. Apparently, there is a “tradition” among kids this age. If a little girl has a crush on a little boy, or vise-versa, at some point that person’s house & yard get papered. It turns out that it’s almost a point of pride for these kids to go to school the next day & say “Somebody papered my house last night”.

On to the story. We did what we did for three hours, hitting as many targets as there were little girls in the van (and the four passenger limit was MUCH less stringent back then). We rock&rolled around the neighborhood having a grand old time until it was time to start droppin’ each of the girls off at their homes.

As I rolled up to one of the houses to drop a girl off, I heard a squeal from the backseat. I looked up into her front yard to see “Dad” picking paper out of the yard & off the bushes & trees. That’s right, this girl had been “papered” while we were out doing the deed ourselves.

You’d think that’s where the story ends…and it does…for years.

A couple of years ago, I was sitting at a corner on 6th Street just waiting for a random passenger to climb in for a ride. The door opens & four beautiful young ladies troop into the cab, apparently Sorority Girls. One of them leans up between the seats and says “Scott, do you remember me?”

I turned around, and to my shock I was looking at Little Rachel. Except she wasn’t a little girl anymore. She’d grown into a beautiful young lady.

The thing that makes this one of my favorite memories is that, I hadn’t seen or heard from this girl in a decade. The last time she’d seen me, she was still in pigtails! Yet she remembers The Land Yacht. She remembers me. Hell, she even remembers my name! This is part of the reason I love what I do. It was that day that I realized that what I do isn’t just about having fun on any given night, I’m creating memories for many of these people to treasure for years to come.

Many years ago, when The Land Yacht was still fresh and new, I arrived on a standard dispatched trip to pick-up a fare at The Mansion on Judges Hill.

When I pulled up, I got my first look at my passengers.  It was an elderly couple, looking to be in their 70’s or 80’s.  They got in & asked to be taken downtown to the Four Seasons Hotel.

So, down MLK I went & turned down San Jacinto Blvd.  Got a little bit of conversation in to get a feel for the mood of the couple & then…

As I turned onto San Jacinto, I put on a favorite video of mine (and one that’s now in my top 25 favorites because of what happened next).  Natalie Cole doing her famous posthumous duet with her father, Nat King Cole to his old song, Unforgettable.

We were breezing through the light at 15th Street when the elderly gentleman leaned up & politely asked me to pull the van over & stop.  What happened next was a tear-jerker of a moment if I’ve ever seen one.

In the middle of afternoon rush hour traffic, this old man stepped out of the van, “handed” his wife out as well…where the proceeded to dance on the side of the road to the beautiful strains of Unforgettable.

 

This is how the story begins!

Once apon a time way back in 1993, there was a young taxi driver who grew bored with his work. He didn’t like Talk Radio at all. He wasn’t really pleased with what the radio had to offer in general. But since the radio in his Taxi didn’t have even so much as a cassette player, he felt kind of stuck. He began to wish for something that would make his job more interesting.

He headed off to the nearest Circuit City where he asked for a new stereo to replace the one that was in his Taxi. When he got it installed, he became happy again for a couple of years. That is, until he realized that to carry enough cassettes to keep him happy, he’d have to keep a suitcase in the front seat with him! Finally, he decided to go back to Circuit City where he got a newer, better stereo. This time with a CD Player!

This satisfied the young Taxi Driver for a while. Then came the craze known to those who know & love it as Boom Time. He found that he liked sitting in people’s cars who had upgraded the speakers in their cars. More money was spent. Speakers were installed. The first amplifier & subwoofer was installed. And we went Boomin along.

Around 1997, an old friend of the young Taxi Driver named Smitty retired and gave his cab to the the young man. This thing was huge! it wasn’t anything like the cars he’d been driving. It was a full size van with a high roof and a wheelchair lift in the back of the van. It was a big @ss boat on wheels. It was The Land Yacht!

This lead to the young man wondering what he could do with all of that space now that he didn’t have to squeeze his speakers and amplifiers into the trunk of a car. More money was spent. More equipment was purchased & installed.

Then came the first computer installation in his Taxi. It was an ugly thing. An old computer from his home, with an old CRT monitor. The computer tied down on an old cushion. The monitor was strapped to the dash of the van with bungee cords.

But, man was it FUN!

Now the young man could bring along all the MP3 files he had been collecting over all of this time. And time went on. No more box full of CD’s, he had thousands of songs to listen to, he would never have to hear the same songs again!

Then he stumbled across a music video given to him by a friend.  He’d been into Music Videos from the early days of MTV, but never thought of using it this way!  He wondered what the reaction of his passengers would be to seeing music videos playin on a screen right there in the Taxi as they rode to & from the bars and clubs where they went to party. It was a huge hit! He went on the internet. He bought dvd’s full. He started transferring his old recordings taken off of MTv! Of course, then MTv stopped playing music!

Before you know it, the young man had a large collection of music videos which seemed to grow with every passing day.

Then came the day when the young man saw his first LCD screen in the local Circuit City. He fell in love. He just had to have one. So he got it! Over time, the technology improved, leading to more and greater things where the computer and monitors were concerned.

The time came for The Land Yacht to retire. To be replaced by another. And yet another! Now The Land Yacht was finally coming into its own! A vehicle that was deliberately huge for no reason other than because the young Taxi Driver wanted it that way. He wanted the Rock! He wanted the Boom! He wanted Bright Lights & Big Sound!

And since he was his own boss, he could have it his way!

And the saga continues….