I had an incredibly long weekend. It started pretty good but ended up spiraling down into a pit of despair. I ended up feeling defeated and unwilling to fight back against the onslaught of negativity. I’m feeling MUCH better now, after a couple high-quality beers, hot bubble bath, and a full day off of relaxing cooking. I think it is probably for the best that I’m writing this entry now instead of fresh off of the weekend.
Friday was the first day of my work week and it was fairly uneventful until toward the end of the evening. People were happy, drunk, and relatively easy to deal with. There was only one instance of college kids trying to pack 8 people into my minivan and telling me 4-5 times “no, it’s okay,” when I told them “I cannot fit more than 6 passengers into this car.” When they eventually realised I was the one in control of the gas pedal, two people got out. One of them decided he was going to give me the double-bird outside my driver’s window. I air-kissed him back. He didn’t really know how to deal with it other than to laugh and exclaim to his friend that I wanted to kiss him, but by then I had the car in drive and the correct number of passengers going 5 blocks. Kids need to learn when to pick their damn battles. I’ve always been tired of groups trying to fit more people into my cab than appropriate, but now I’m tired of getting upset about it.
Friday night ended with me having a call to pick up at The Great Dane downtown for “Ryan” going to the far east side. When I pulled up there were people coming at my cab from all over the corner and across the street. My car doors were locked to the dismay of several people trying several doors. I had the passenger window open a few inches, asking the names of people who were swearing up and down that this was THEIR cab and they had called over an hour ago (most of our calls we were servicing at the time had 20 minutes on their clocks).
One man shoved his hand into my window with two twenties in it. He said “I’m going to South Park St.” I’m no fool. I know if I open that door those twenties are going to disappear into his pocket and he’ll give me maybe a $2 tip. I just ask his name and tell him that’s not the name on my call. The man next to him gets pretty angry, but I’m unsure why. “I’ll give you forty dollars to take my friends to The Constellation.” The Constellation is a new apartment building about 8 blocks away. He’s brought out two of his own twenties and the two men dominating my window start fighting a little back and forth, calling each other douches. The Constellation guy kind of slaps the first guy in the face, half with his hand, half with his money.
“I’ll give you $40 NOT to take this douchebag and another $40 to take my three friends to The Constellation.” Yes, please and thank you. He hands me 4 $20 bills and I load his three friends as he says “This person, this person, NOT THIS ONE,” he points to the man he had been arguing with, “and this woman.” At this point the bartender comes out from the Dane and says I’m here for someone inside, she can prove it because she’s got a text from our company saying so. She doesn’t give me the correct name for my call, but I’m inclined to believe her… but I’ve already accepted payment for The Constellation ride. I tell her I’ll be back in 5 minutes, she’s angry and says “you better be.”
I feel slightly bad about this, but it took over 5 minutes for this douche-fight to resolve and the person I was supposed to take should have been looking for their cab. I make sure to return immediately (it MIGHT have been 6 minutes instead of 5). The best thing about taking the $80 ride was that I didn’t have to take EITHER of the men that were fighting. The three that were in the cab were drunk, but not too drunk, and happy. When I returned for the other fare, those two were very understanding about the situation, high-fived me, and then fell asleep on their way home. I hope they mention this whole thing to the bartender later.
Saturday started with this:
And it went downhill fast.
Some of my friends know that they can call me directly if they want a ride. They know that the nature of my job is chaotic and I have no idea where I’ll be at any given time and therefore they need to text or call me when they’re ready to be picked up. I will then reply with where *I* am at, if I can help them out, and what kind of ETA they should expect. An acquaintance didn’t quite understand this concept, even after I had texted the whole thing out for him twice. He first tried to reserve me for 2am, which is the peak of our chaotic bar rush, then he tried to tell me to pick him up in 20 minutes when I was 2 minutes away from him during a busy time (which would mean I would have to take a 20 minute break and wait for him to be ready). At that point I just told him to call for a cab from the company. This was the underlying stress I felt for the evening.
Then it started snowing. It accumulated very quickly. I’m originally from California so I’m unsure of all the terms, but it felt like it was “pouring snow”. I ended up on the west side where calls are spread farther apart (downtown drivers will have shorter distances between drop-offs and pick-ups) during peak bar-rush in the pouring snow. This adds up to way less money in my pocket and more stress… BUT! I get assigned a call at a west side bar that will take me directly into downtown near all the bars and business. Sweet!
Except I ended up waiting a little longer than I would have liked for my passenger to come out, and when he did he had an open plastic cup of iced soda in his hand. He was a little tipsy and fumbly, and I had serious doubts that the cup was only soda. I let him know I wouldn’t be going anywhere until the cup was disposed of, and he put up more of a fight than people normally do. I pushed harder, saying he was drunk and if it was spilled he would need to pay a $50 cleaning fee. He said he wasn’t going to dump it and I should just call the cops. Well that escalated quickly. I wasn’t going to call the cops over maybe-soda, but I did pull into a parking spot and roll down all my windows… in the pouring snow… and turned off the heat. He got the hint, huffed a bit, and tossed the cup out of the window.
As I started to pull forward, still in the parking lot, I said “Since you’ve been so difficult and I want to make sure we don’t have another impasse like this when you’re home and I need to be paid, would you please give me $20 up front?” The total trip would probably end up being $22-24, but I wanted to make sure I had the lion’s share and it wouldn’t be too much of a bother to give me another $5 once there. He got REALLY resistant. He said he worked at a “fine dining restaurant” and he was a regular with us, that I had probably taken him to work before, he had $1,000 in his wallet, and he would take care of me. I insisted because he was so adversarial. He started calling me names, repeated where he worked, called me racist, and still refused to part with $20 now instead of at the end of the ride. He said I should call the cops again, so I parked and did it this time.
It was a shame, really. He was just too damn resistant. I wanted to be downtown, he wanted to be downtown, he just wouldn’t cooperate with ANYTHING. It turns out I remembered taking him to work a couple times, and when he was sober he seemed like a nice enough guy. Maybe there’s something to it that alcohol is the devil. The police asked if I wanted to press charges, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t even know what charges to press. They asked what I wanted the situation to end with and I let them know if they could calm him down and get $20 out of him, I would LOVE to take him home. The nice officer said that probably wasn’t a possibility and that the best thing to do was to part ways with the passenger now and go on with my night. I ended up dead-heading downtown full of vitriol. What a waste. I also had to spend 20 minutes writing the whole thing up at the office. We like to keep records of situations that require law enforcement.
Sunday wasn’t any better. My first ride was someone who seemed a little mentally unstable. I asked when she got into the car if the address on the call was correct for her drop-off. She agreed, I got there, then she screamed that it wasn’t her house, she lived on the opposite side of town, she was homeless, I was just trying to rub it in that she didn’t live there anymore, that I was calling her names and threatening her, and she wasn’t going to get out of the car. The ride was paid for by the medical clinic I had picked her up from so the dispatcher thought it would be best to take her back there and have her sit her fit out in the warmth of their office. It was about 5 degrees outside. As she got out she called me a cracker-nosed bitch. I hadn’t even said anything to her other than “this is where you said you wanted me to take you!” Life was starting to wear me down.
Later in the day I picked up a girl from work and took her home. She was probably 16 or so, her mom was paying for the ride at the end. There were two possible ways to get to her place and looking at a map they looked equidistant. Unfortunately, they weren’t because she lived in a southern part of her neighborhood that was only accessible from the north on one of the routes. I had asked her which route she wanted me to take, and she gave me the longer one. My speed was very slow during this ride due to high winds and crazy drifting of all the snow from the night before. The roads were insanely icy and hard to deal with. When I got to her house, her mother came out and started yelling at me that the quote over the phone was $17 but I was charging $21. Their car was broken, they were getting it fixed the following day, but they had spent over $200 in cabs that week, all of the rides were above the quote.
I rolled over immediately, apologised for the bad service, let her know she could call our office during business hours and discuss this with a supervisor. I remained firm on the $21 because her daughter is the one who told me which route to take, but I was done. I couldn’t deal with anyone else yelling at me on a scale that was out of proportion for any actions on my part. I hate winter, I hate taking shit, and I was done. On my drive back into town, taking the correct, shorter route because I was curious, I came across a road closure and someone turned backwards in the ditch a mile from this girl’s house.
When I got home from work after Sunday’s shift I took a 4am bubble bath while drinking a beer. That was the only way I survived an event-less Monday shift. If anything else bad had happened, I might have just called it quits for the night.
Fortunately for me, I had Tuesday and Wednesday off to recover my equilibrium and feel human again. I no longer have the urge to snap at my friends for no-good-reasons or throttle strangers for driving badly. Seriously, though, some of these out-of-town drivers need to pay attention to one-way signs.