OC Cabbie: Death Of Another Dog

by RhodesTer on January 8, 2010

in NOT Humor/Satire

A few years ago I was driving a taxi in Huntington Beach California, and I decided to blog about it. The blog is long gone, but I’ve resserected a handful of the posts that I’m republishing here in a weeklong series called OC CABBIE.

This is the final installment. If you’d like to start at the beginning, go here.

from July of 2007..

OC Cabbie: Death Of Another Dog

Taxicabs by Dystopos

Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, “The taxi business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

Okay, so he actually said it about the music business but I’ve found that it applies to the taxi business as well.

Today I lost my lease because I was behind on my $575.00 per week payment and the money just wasn’t coming in. I suppose I could have done what I saw other drivers do.. the ones who came out at about noon and worked through the bar closings at two in the morning, then napped for a few hours in their cabs before hitting the road again at about five in the morning to get runs going to the airport. I guess they went home after that, to sleep a little more and then get back out at noon again. I’m not sure I have it in me to miss out on life to that degree (call me lazy.)

The thieves and pimps in the opening paragraph are the managers and owners of the taxi companies, while the good men who die like dogs would be the drivers who put in the insanely long hours so that the owners can be assured of a wealthy, opulent life style. I wasn’t at it long, but I saw drivers on the verge of dropping from pure exhaustion, who’d bicker with each other over a space in a taxi line or a five dollar fare.

My first post in this terribly skimpy blog introduced Ace and Tiny, who are two of the most generous and wonderful individuals I’ve ever met. They each put in hours equivalent to a full-time job, since they’ve built up enough personal business over the years to get by without killing themselves, so they don’t need to sleep in their cars and grab morning airport runs. I want to publicly thank them for sharing so much of that personal business with me, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Honorable mention also goes to Kurt and Vern, who are two other drivers with years of experience under their belts.. they shared calls with me also, and taught me a few tricks of the trade.

Thanks gentlemen, I wish you well.

There are a few other companies in town where I suppose I could lease another cab since I have a county permit that’s good for another 8 months, but I’d shortly be back in the same position since they all charge $575.00 per week. My wife isn’t working and I’ve simply run out of confidence, so we’re leaving in a few days to stay with some friends in a distant town, where I’ll look for a regular job. We have to get out of this motel shortly, since I no longer have a daily income but I’m not in the least bit miserable over that.. this place is dreadful.

The blog shall stay but no more posts after this.* I know it wasn’t much but I gave it a good try. If for some crazy reason I decide to lease a cab again, I won’t be blogging because now I’ve learned my lesson, which is that there’s no life to be had outside of the taxi. There’s no room for silly things like socializing and blogging, since one must get that lease paid so that the company owner can make a yacht payment.

Thanks for riding, even though it was a short trip.

*I was referring to the now defunct taxi-driving blog from 2007, that’s since been deleted.

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A FINAL NOTE – I’m writing this in 2010, long since after having turned cab #743 back into the California Yellow Cab Company in Santa Ana. People may think I’m exaggerating, but the owner of the company was said to have a yacht painted in the traditional yellow/black color scheme of an average taxi, while I was lucky to make about seventy dollars in cash for a fifteen hour day after buying gas and dropping the day’s lease allotment. Even with that I still got behind and lost the lease.

I recently worked for an upscale hotel in Palm Springs which employed a valet who moonlighted for the local taxi company in that area. Even though they were under a completely different scheduling and pay system, he’d often experience the same thing – getting off a 12-hour-shift (the max allowed there) with forty dollars in his pocket if he was lucky.

I’m not naive enough to think that company owners should make a moderate living from their business while drivers do extremely well. I’m just saying that there needs to be some kind of reform, in that drivers shouldn’t have to work over 8-10 hours a day to make a decent living, like most other professions. They’re also without health insurance – who can afford that on such a meager income?

If you’ve ever wondered why so many cab drivers seem to be devious and greedy, now you know why. I personally think it’s almost impossible for an ethical person to make a living as a cab driver, at least here in the USA. The next time you’re in a taxi and the driver takes you several miles out of the way due to “a wrong turn,” and still charges you the total meter, you’ll know why. I used to be fair to the passenger and take off a part of the meter if I made a mistake, but I ended up losing my lease.

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