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Huntington Beach

OC Cabbie: Swimming with the Sharkeez

by RhodesTer on January 7, 2010

A few years ago I barely made a living as a taxi driver in Huntington Beach California, and I decided to blog about it at the time. The blog is long gone, but I’ve resurrected a handful of the posts that I’m republishing here in a week-long series called OC CABBIE.

Missed the beginning? Start here if you’d like.

from mid 2007..

OC Cabbie: Swimming with the Sharkeez

sharkeezAce lives on his cell phone. He never takes calls from the taxi dispatch.. his gizmo isn’t even hooked up. Some drivers in other places are scratching their heads over that, because it works differently depending on where one is licensed to drive a cab. In some places they work for the company and have to take the company dispatch calls.

In Orange County we lease our taxis from California Yellow Cab, who don’t care if we use their dispatch services or take personal calls on a cell phone, as long as we pay our weekly lease and don’t do anything illegal. We buy our gas, pay all fees and the only thing the company is responsible for is to provide dispatch services, insurance and vehicle maintenance.

For some reason Ace likes me, and asked me one day if I’d like to help him out on busy weekends. The Huntington Beach area goes ballistic on weekends with partying and people who take cabs throughout the evening, going to and from the bars and clubs. Plenty of them still drive themselves – Huntington Beach has one of the highest DUI rates in the nation – and plenty others take other cab companies that operate in the area.

But hundreds of people still call Ace personally, and when it gets busy he can’t handle it all himself.

He’s gotten up quite the database of personal clients over the years and on weekend evenings he functions as a  dispatcher while driving. He passes calls off to a handful of other drivers who he trusted not to rip-off, piss-off or otherwise upset his longtime clients.

On Friday night we were slammed, and Ace’s calls were stacked four deep. I was on my way back from a run to Long Beach and had just hit the 405 south when my phone rang. It was the boss.

“Hey, how far are you from the Beach and Atlanta area? I’ve got a client on the phone and I don’t want her to have to wait too long.” I told him I’d just jumped on the 405 out of Long Beach and would get down there as soon as I could, which would be about a half-hour if all went smoothly.

“Great, I’ll have her call you and give you directions.”

She called and told me her name was Debbie. She was standing on her front lawn with her boyfriend and two of his pals. She said she had blond hair and was holding her cellphone. She asked how long I’d be. I told her a half hour.

“Okay, please hurry! We’re going to “Sharkeez” in Newport and meeting friends tonight.. they’re waiting for us now.”

The directions she’d given was to one of these neighborhoods where you turn off the main street onto such-and-such, then left at the corner and right at the next corner, then another right and another left and another right in this absolute MAZE of streets with names like Miramar, Dorsett, Posten and Stillwell, etc.. all suburban hell with houses that look alike. At least I wasn’t looking for an address.. she said she was a blond standing on the lawn with three guys.. piece of cake.

I got down into the neighborhood and had turned off of Beach onto Atlanta, and was looking for the turn-off into suburbia. She called because traffic had been heavy and I was running a little behind the half-hour estimate I’d given her.

“Dave, are you almost here?”

“Yeah sweetie, I just turned off of Beach.. give me a few more minutes.”

“Awesome! We’re still out on the lawn.. see you shortly!”

I found Miramar and made my right down to Dorsett. Okaaaay, Posten.. ahhh, there it is! Right turn and left down on Stillwell. Then onto Shaw, where they were supposed to be standing in front of the house.

WHOA, there they are! Cool!

Ghost by svenwerkThe blond standing on the lawn came running up to the cab with the three guys close behind her. “Hi guys, nice to see ya!” I was always cheerful and friendly with passengers, which was one of the reasons Ace had brought me aboard.

“Yeah, we’re going to Sharkeez” she said, as she piled into the back seat with two of the guys and the other one came around to jump up front with me.

“I know babe, sorry about the wait.”

“Oh, that’s okay, I know it’s busy.”

I took us back the way I’d came in and circumnavigated the maze while they talked about meeting up with whoever. Finally, we’d gotten out onto the Pacific Coast Highway and were on our way to Newport Beach, where the TV show from a few years back, “The OC”, took place. It was about a four mile drive and then another couple of miles down the peninsula to Sharkeez once we were in town.

This is when she spoke up.

“Actually, you were pretty fast.. I was surprised.”

I looked at her in the rear-view mirror. Cute girl, this one. Nice smile.

“What do you mean?”

“I’d just hung up from the cab company about a minute earlier when you pulled up.”

I felt a flush of.. something. The knot in my stomach was unpleasant.

“Wait, you didn’t call Ace?”

“Who’s Ace?”

Just then my cell phone rang.

“Excuse me”.. I answered. “Hello, this is Dave.”

“DAVE! Where the hell are you? It’s been fifteen minutes since you said you turned off of Beach.. are you lost or something?”

“Debbie?” I put the phone down and asked the girl in the back seat her name. It was Karen. I asked what company she’d called. I asked if she lived on Shaw.

“Yeah, of course I live on Shaw.. why?”

For the record, I don’t think young ladies like Debbie should use language like the blistering, venomous rhetoric that she poured into my ear over the phone. She may be old enough to drink and go to clubs like Sharkeez, but her mom needs to wash her mouth out with Irish Spring.

I also guess I can’t blame her. She called Ace and gave him an earful too, and then he called me to find out what happened. I asked him what the chances were that there would be another blond holding a cell phone with three guys standing next to her on a lawn at that time in the evening in that suburban neighborhood, and that THEY TOO want to go to Sharkeez in Newport Beach. He agreed that it was unlikely, but that I still should have asked her name before leaving, like we’d do when picking up someone who called from a bar or club.

He was right. I told him that I offered to go back and get her for free once I’d dropped off my current passengers, and that later I’d even take her home for no charge. She’d have none of it, she was too pissed off. I finally suggested that she walk the half block up to Karen’s address because there would be a cab coming soon from another company and the driver would be looking for a blond girl and three guys.

I’d had better nights. Most of them, actually.

Continued..

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OC Cabbie: Cash + Booze = Instant Asshole

by RhodesTer on January 6, 2010

A few years ago I barely made a living as a taxi driver in Huntington Beach California, and I decided to blog about it at the time. The blog is long gone, but I’ve resurrected a handful of the posts that I’m republishing here in a week-long series called OC CABBIE.

Missed the beginning? Start here if you’d like.

from early 2007..

OC Cabbie: Cash + Booze = Instant Asshole

Only by Bob JagendorfOkay, rich people.. and semi-rich people.. and people who THINK you’re rich when you’ve had too much to drink (mostly just the latter.) I’m here to let you know something very, very important that is going to HELP you in social situations with lower life forms such as us taxi drivers..

Nobody gives a damn how much money you have and are willing to spend to get what you want. At least anyone with principles.

To the guy who was outside of Tumbleweed the other night at closing time.. you know who you are.. you offered me a hundred bucks to take you to the Hilton “RIGHT NOW,” which would have necessitated my kicking out the guy who’d already gotten into the cab and wanted to go to Long Beach. He was a nice fella who’d also had too much to drink – just like YOU – but he knew how to conduct himself.

You, on the other hand, started swearing at me like a pompous, spoiled little idiot after I pulled away and you continued swearing and stamping your spoiled little feet as you pointed your finger at me and reigned down curses on my taxi, even after I assured you that another taxi would be coming along in a minute or so. The guy going to Long Beach was willing to share with you at first but you insisted on stealing it out from under him so he said “let’s go” and I had to cut you loose, to stand there and scream like a bitchy little girl, with everyone looking at you and thinking exactly what my passenger and I were thinking.. “what a douche.”

By the way, when I dropped off the first guy in Long Beach the meter was at about fifty bucks but he gave me a hundred. I had to drive a lot farther to earn it but it was worth it to leave you there.

To the other guy who was outside of the same bar a few nights earlier.. you know who you are.. you had a buddy with you who seemed to be a pretty cool dude. YOU, on the other hand, insisted on smoking in my taxi even after I’d asked you not to. So you had to go and ask me, “how much to smoke in your taxi?” and I had to explain to you that there is no smoking in my taxi because I used to smoke years ago but gave it up and don’t want to start again, plus I don’t want holes burned into my seats, which are the two main reasons I don’t allow smoking at all. Then you said, “There’s a price on everything asshole, so what’s your price to let me smoke in your taxi?” but calling me “asshole” kind of sealed the deal on you, so I left you and your buddy standing in front of the bar door. As I pulled away I saw your buddy calling YOU an asshole, because it was almost three in the morning on a  Tuesday and taxis were scarce.

By the way, if you’d given me a moment instead of calling me silly, obscene little names, I would have let you light it up before getting in and have your cig on the sidewalk while I waited for you without the meter running. That’s just how cool I am.. if you stop long enough to find out.

To you people who often throw an elaborate amount of money my way to “get there quick” or “wait here,” you’re okay as long as you’re being nice and you’re not under the impression that cash is tantamount to an asshole license. Paying me off in large amounts of green doesn’t turn me into a bug on your windshield, despite what some of you seem to think. I’m still going to hold to my rules, such as no smoking, no mess making and no sex in the back seat, and if you want to stamp your feet and cry, I’ll be happy to let you do that on the sidewalk as I pull away and go get one of the 99.9% of passengers who understand the concept of reciprocal courtesy.

Yes I need to make a living, but I don’t need your money if you’re demanding my principles in return.

END RANT: now

Continued..

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OC Cabbie – Blah Blah Blah

January 5, 2010
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I was born overly talkative. The nurses in the delivery room were charmed by me at first, as most young women are, but then they started giving each other “the glance” that says, “Okay, THIS guy is a little annoying” before they started making excuses about having to be somewhere else.

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OC Cabbie: How It Works

January 5, 2010
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I should explain that Tiny was a taxi driver for many years, but he isn’t anymore – he’s a limo driver. It’s a different licensing system for him, but it’s perfectly legal.

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OC Cabbie: Fear And Loathing In Huntington Beach

January 4, 2010
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You can either call me Dave, 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.

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