OC Cabbie: Fear And Loathing In Huntington Beach

by RhodesTer on January 4, 2010

I don’t know if it’s a sign of a prolific writer that he can lose an entire blog and forget about it, but that’s exactly what I did.

remington

While recently looking at some things I had published a few years ago on Google’s BLOGGER platform, I came across OC CABBIE, a short-lived blog I was writing to chronicle my adventures as a cab driver in California’s Orange County.

The blog was short-lived because my cab driving career was. I ended up owing the cab company $750.00 in back lease after only a few months in service, so when I finally gave up and gave back my shiny 2002 Crown Victoria, I swore I’d never again get into another cab unless I was a passenger.

So far I’ve managed to avoid even that.

I enjoyed certain aspects of driving a cab, but weighed against the things I didn’t enjoy – the abusive drunks, the long hours, the constant fear of being robbed – it didn’t come out in the end. I don’t miss it one itty bit, but it did make for some interesting stories.

That’s why I started up OC CABBIE.. to impart the adventures I had behind the wheel and also to answer those questions that everyone seemed to ask when they got into the back seat of my cab.. “Do you make much money? How does the fare work? Ever been robbed?”

“DO YOU LIKE DRIVING A CAB?”

I deleted the blog, but only after first importing the handful of posts that were languishing in obscurity. To start off our new year I’ve resurrected them here in a week-long series that I’m calling, appropriately, OC CABBIE.

from early 2007..

OC Cabbie: Fear And Loathing In Huntington Beach

Taxi by Al FedCall a particular phone number in Huntington Beach, California in the evening to request a taxi and you might just get a limousine instead. It’s an older model that’s seen better days just like its driver, but both have a certain class and charisma that the locals find charming. The driver is a great teddy bear of a man who goes by the absurdly inaccurate moniker of “Tiny.” With a long, white beard accentuating his shiny bald head and jolly frame, he’s endlessly compared to a southern California beach version of Santa Claus due to a mirthful laugh and mischievous grin. The ladies adore this ebullient elf, often taking to his lap when arriving at their destination so as to place a big kiss on his cheek; a gift to thank him for a safe and enjoyable ride home from the bar, club or house party where he had initially picked them up.

Call that same number and you may not get Tiny and his limo at all – you just might get “Ace” instead, who will arrive in an elegant black Town Car complete with XM Satellite Radio so that he can dial up the music of your choice as you glide along to your destination in fashionable comfort. No need to give this ZZ TOP look-alike any directions, he’s only been driving a taxi in Huntington Beach for about 30 years, so he knows the way downtown if you’re “just looking for some tush.” It’s possible that he hasn’t shaved in that long either judging by the bushy beard, which facilitates the personae that the baseball cap, ponytail and Levi jacket have started.

If your mood leans a bit to the wilder side, you can pray to the gods of rock and roll that “Kruzin Kurt” will show up with one of the few taxis where smoking is allowed and solemnity is banned. Kurt will crank up Zeppelin when they blare from the radio, but not so that you can’t hear him excitedly impart his account of the previous passenger, who either stiffed him on the fare, doubled the tip, tossed their cookies in his cab or decided to ride topless, depending on whether or not it’s a full moon that particular evening. Under a wicked lion’s mane of white hair, Kurt is our very own “Reverend Jim,” who seems as though he might have once lived in Haight-Ashbury (I don’t think he ever did, he just seems like he did.) Straight-arrows and corporate types might want to wait for the bus.

There are a handful of other drivers, all of them characters straight out of a Hunter S. Thompson novel, and I’m the newest of them – my name is Dave. You can either call me that or one of the nicks that the boys have given me, “DJ DAVE” or “WRONG WAY DAVE,” the latter of which I earned by going south when the destination lay to the north, and vice-versa.

I told you I was new at this, and they knew it too, but STILL decided to saddle me with this dreadful name that I halfheartedly agreed to let ACE print on the calling cards that he made up for me to hand out to customers.. at least for now. The “DJ DAVE” nick seemed the obvious first choice after I had informed them about my stellar career as a disc jockey in radio, which didn’t work out very well as evidenced by the fact that I now drive a yellow Crown Victoria with a roof light on top, in which I give people rides in exchange for money. My radio days are long behind me (I was actually replaced by automation.. grrr.. ) and so are my days as an actor, mime, audio producer and film/TV extra. I’ve had a few various careers in my time, but I must honestly say that driving a taxi, especially in Huntington Beach, is one of the most entertaining and challenging endeavors that I’ve ever tackled.

One thing that I like to do besides drive, is write. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not I’m any good at it, but I’ve liked writing for many years and I find it to be relaxing and therapeutic. Despite the fact that taxi driving can be so darned entertaining at times it can be stressful too, with long hours and difficult customers, so I hope that keeping a BLOG about my adventures will be a welcome outlet to blow off steam while amusing my readers and possibly even inviting a lawsuit or two.

So, welcome to OC CABBIE. Fasten your seat belts and ignore the meter, it will only distract you from the scenery as we head south.. er, uh.. I mean NORTH.

————————————————-

TECHNICAL NOTE: Ace, Tiny and Kurt had been at taxi driving for so long, they didn’t take calls from dispatch. Some companies don’t allow drivers to live off of personal calls alone or take them directly, but that’s what those guys did. They’d compiled hundreds, maybe even thousands, of personal customers who’d call them directly on their mobile phones when a ride was needed.

Kurt only turned on his dispatch computer when business was slow, Ace never turned his on at all, and Tiny didn’t even have one in his old limo since he wasn’t operating a licensed taxi. He’d quote a “limo fare” to a customer at the beginning of a ride and he didn’t run a meter – they’d pay what was agreed upon when they started out. It was legal because he had a limo-operating permit.. the same kind a limo company has to charge you $500.00 for 4 hours out on the town, only Tiny would charge ten dollars from Bar A to Bar B, and then someone else ten dollars to go to Bar C, which all added up at the end of the night.

I got in on the action when Ace approached me about taking some of his personal calls for him on weekends when it got busy. When business was slammed and he had several other drivers helping him with calls, he was basically running his own little taxi dispatch service.

To be continued..

tell the WORLD..
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lorna January 4, 2010 at 1:14 am

I remember when this post first came out—what a ride it’s been for you guys since…
Lorna´s brilliant blustering.. Missed opportunity My ComLuv Profile

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2 RhodesTer January 4, 2010 at 1:21 am

Indeed. Part of the reason for a week long series that’s already written is to take a blog break and do whatever I can to get our butts to San Francisco. WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE!

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