I havent written for a while,a few reasons why.Mainly I was so pissed off by a fare I had back in January,I couldnt even think about it,let alone write about it.
I get guys like them on average 4 or 5 times a year.Big shots with fat gold watches,fancy clothes even when they are trying to be casual.They are in Key West staying at their second home,at a 400+$ per night hotel, a yacht or flew down on a private jet.
Sometimes they are in a drunken stupor,barely able to tell me where they are going.Others brag the entire time about what they own or do and how big it is.Some are just plain belligerent.
It’s like they all operate from the same script when we get to the destination.Too lazy to walk,but when we get there all they have in their pockets are credit cards.They are never apologetic nor do they try to make any effort to get cash.They stand limply,swaying in the breeze and shrug their shoulders,hoping I’m sure that I will just leave.But I stick to my guns.These guys have enough money to stay at the best hotel in town and their last drink but they want to stick it to the cab driver.They couldnt care less.These situations always take painfully too long,I could be making twice as much back downtown,as what they owe me but I’ll be damned if they get a free ride from me.
And so it was one of these kind of rides I got one Friday night.The taxi stand was busy I could’ve gotten a simple fare but no.Three drunk yacht race fucks,,here for the regatta,2 crew and the captain.
They had to make a few stops before going back to the marina on Stock Island.The captain discussed money with them a few times on the way there.I made sure to tell them I didnt take credit cards and they reassured me more than once, that they had money.But I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach it was going to go bad,and one of the mates chuckling when the capatin asked him again if he had money made it even more so.
The marina,once a working boatyard with lots of live-aboards has been turned into an upscale yacht club complete with a private restaraunt,gym and slips starting at 700K$.This is the current trend,the greedy dreams of the mover and shakers that run the city of Key West.
By the time we drove through the gate,the meter was 36$.More time was taken up by their stalling.I cant tell you how infuriating it is to watch drunken assholes check and recheck their pockets and wallets,and even the goddamn cab seats for money.They only had 19$.At first they tried to talk me into coming back in the morning and getting double.Until the I had been relatively patient,but I started yelling there was no tomorrow only now.Though one of the mates had told the captain he better go to the ATM,he continued to shuffle and stalled again.The mate dragged the drunk fom the front seat out onto the ground near some bushes.The captain dicked around looking in the back seat again.I go out and ordered him back inside the car,demanding we go to the ATM.Finally he got in back,and I pealed away with the front door still hanging open.I sped through the gate to the store a few blocks away.The captain made reluctant excuses from the back seat.He confessed that he had been having problems getting cash with his card all day.Mind you I had asked 20 minutes ago if they had money and they said yes.So they knew the whole time they didnt have enough money,lying to me.I was steaming mad now.
I told him he should’ve thought of that before he took a cab.This jerk-off bragged to the drive-thru lady his boat had 3 swimming pools but he doesnt have any money to pay me!
I sat in the car,watching him through the window as he tried the ATM.It wasnt looking promising,despite his assurances he was going to give me a good tip.Luckily the clerk stepped in,and he was able to get cash back if he bought something,he chose beer,big surprise.
He handed me 3 twenty dollar bills.Which meant a 12$ tip,though we still had to drive back to the marina,about a 6$ fare.We get to the yacht club,a virtual maze in the dark,various brick paths that led to concrete barricades.I never saw one boat.He had me driving in circles with his bad directions.Thta’s when I fiinally lost it and told him to “get the fuck out”.By then the mate had run up to the cab.He was screaming in the window as the jack-ass captain wanted me to wait so he could check the seats once again.This same mate had tried to start a fight with me while we were still downtown.It is part of the game,they start a fight so they can justify not paying me because I had a bad attitude.He yelled a final time that they were good people.No they werent I told them,they were fuckin assholes.
Forty five minutes later I was back downtown.
Last week,Fat Tuesday night I’m working.And by the way;No,we do not celebrate Mardi Gras here for everyone’s information.
I get a call uptown about 1 am,at the cheapest motel in the city.The room was way in the corner of the building and a big Hummer was blocking the window.I uaually never get out to knock on the door but it was the only way they would know I was outside waiting.
One dread comes out first,I ‘ve given him a ride before.He comes down on the bus from Miami.I say hello and ask where they are going,just downtown he tells me.A few minutes later his friend gets in,and I ask again where they want to go but I get the same answer.
I am just getting close to Duval when one of them wonders outloud where we are.I remind them I asked where they wanted to go.They say that’s okay and have me drop them off up the street at a dark corner a block off Duval.The friend asks the other one for money,he only has 4$.His friend doesnt have any money at all.He gets on his phone and makes a call.
“Where you at?Where?”
He tells me to go to the A-Rab store on Whitehead.I pull up to the deserted intersection, not a soul around.He gets on his phone again,a little mad now asking where the other person is.They have me take them to another store a few blocks away.There are a couple people sitting outside when we drive up front,but they are all Mexican and I doubt that is who he is looking for.Just as he’s getting ready to make another call,I see a kid in a dirty sweatshirt,running from around the corner,he looks maybe 14.He jumps in the front seat.
“No man,we aint goin nowhere! Give me a dime.” Says the guy from the back.
The kid spits a crack rock out of his mouth.
“No man! Give me money,so I can pay her! ” He says in an irriatated tone.
The kid gives him a twenty.The meter is 18.95$.The guy hands me the twenty ,I start to make change but the other dread in back tells him to just let me keep it.I thank them for being genuine.
And the lesson here is crack dealers have more intergrity than the mother fuckers who belong to the yacht club.
It’s bad enough I have to deal with not making money,driving in circles for hours just to get a blabbering drunk in my cab and the redundant questions from tourists,but I have to deal with my mainly male co-workers.They treat us few females as feeble-minded,incapable tiresome burdens in their atmoshpere.Yeah,well I listen better,I see better and I remember better than all of them.They need their hands held to find a fare in front of a hotel lobby.
Lately the worst is one of the dispatchers,so in love with the sound of his own voice he shares every mundane detail of life with all of us on the radio.The topper is how he complains he works too much.Trust me most of us are sick of hearing him and dont want him working practically every night.The tone of his voice is snide and scarastic too.Well what do you expect from an ex-cop thrown off the force for inproprietary?
So it’s Friday night one of the best nights of the week we have right now.But like I said this is the slowest month of the year.
I just got one the road,racing downtown when I get a call at one of the strip joints.Six o’clock is not a regular or beneficial time to get a call at a strip joint.But the first hour driving is crucial to make money to pay for the cab.
Luckily my fare is waiting outside,as opposed to not being there at all.He is an older,tall gentleman with gray hair.He gets in the front seat.I ask where he wants to go.
“Take me around the island.” He says in a Russian accent.
“Okay” I’m thinking,I may make a hundred out of this.If it were season I wouldnt have the patience for this.There are not many calls on the radio,so I am not missing out on business.The sarcastic dispatcher is working tonight,whining and verbally abusing all the drivers because two calls are hanging-“hanging” means noone has bid on it,and it needs to be picked up.
A few blocks down the street the Russian asks if he can drink in the cab.Sure he can.I take him to a liquor store .I see him come out clutching a bottle of Crowne Royale,the blue bag unmistakeable.
We proceed to drive downtown.I make small talk,but he speaks sparingly.He mentions girls,the girls at the strip joint.I decide to take him to the one massage parlor we have.He thinks that is a good idea,but I tell him he has to give me something to hold if he wants me to wait.
“Money is no problem.” he says with a wave of his hand.
This is looking better and better.We pull up to the club.I bring him up to the door,but first he hands me 60$.We go inside and I introduce him to the girl behind the counter.I tell him I’ll be outside waiting in the cab.I tell ya,I was a little concerned from his stoic demanor that he might’ve gotten kinky in the cab.I have never had anyone try to jerk-off in the cab,and I would like to keep it that way.
I listened to the radio,and there was not much business,I wasnt sorry I was dealing with him.He came out with the girl a couple minutes later.As he quietly got back in the front seat,she told me she had lost her dog and to keep an eye out for it.
I start driving down Duval Street.He wants me to drive to the beach.But then he suggests we go to a bar and dance together.I tell him I dont dance.It takes a lot of persuasion on my part to convince him that not only is it too early in the night but that he has been drinking and I havent.I dont get out of the cab,I make money in the cab.I will not got out to dance with anyone.He finally stops trying to talk me into it.I am still making small talk with him,where he’s from,what does he do?He tells me he builds houses.Then he say while we are sitting at a red light that he thinks he may be gay.He has already said he married and that his wife is in town with him too.But the way he was telling me about the great houses he builds I’m thinking oh because he builds nice houses or something.hey was drunk,you gotta undersatnd it’s like reading hieroglyphics in a public bathroom with sunglasses on.I’m just nodding and going okay.He keeps on the gay,or should I say it the way he was,faggot subject.Now he wants to go to a gay bar.He asks if that is the word,faggot.I tell him no that is not the word,gay is the word.I show him the gay block,point out the bars and the difference between them.It is not even seven o’clock yet so the bars are pretty quiet.He wants to go in one and I drop him off,showing him where I’ll be parked.
Fifteen minutes go by,I’m watching the meter,click click.When it gets up to 45$ I decide to go inside.His bottle of Crowne Royale is still sitting next to my seat.Some drivers might’ve left him by now,but the guy had money and it didnt mean anything to him,it sure did to me.
I walk into the gay bar,only a few men sitting at the bar.I ask the bartender if he has seen the man.He points to the back bar outside,I have to ask permission to go back there.Yes,it is men only past that point!
I find him sitting at the bar.I tap him on the shoulder and he says let’s go.
We walk back out to the cab.I ask want does he want to do now and he tells me to take him to the beach.Then he asks if he can touch my “boob” I tell him no.If I let people do that then I would be working in a strip joint.I already took him to a place where he could touch women,he had his chance.I drive a cab for living and that’s all.I’m driving down back streets towards the ocean,looking at the clock.I am getting tired of this routine.I pass by a fancy restaurant,and tell him the name.He wants to go,he wants both of us to have dinner,but I tell him it’s the weekend,you need reservations.A minute later we are near another beach.He tells me to stop.He wants to use the bathroom,and when he comes back;he says he wants to take me to dinner.He stares out the window.He says how money doesnt mean anything.I think of a quote I heard,that only people who have money say money doesnt solve everything.He gets out and I am thinking how to end the whole ride,he’s drunk ,it’s been an hour by now.
He comes back,stands next to my window and once more tries to convince me to go to dinner but I decline.He asks what does he owe me,the meter reads 55.75$.I tell him,he asks how much has he given me?I say sixty.He hands me another 20$,kisses the top of my head and walks away.The Crowne Royale still nestled by my side.
And so,he who has everything didnt get what he wanted,but the lady who has nothing got what she wanted.
Sorry no exciting cab stories this weekend.It was even slower than I expected.Friday I went a good 2 hrs without a fare.It costs me 25$ an hour to operate the cab.What gets me is the tourists,if there are a few live bodies on the sidewalk they think it’s a busy night and I must be raking in the big bucks.And on late night shifts mid-week they complain about how dead it is.Yeah;think about it,your hotel room was cheap for a reason.Most people think we are busy 365 days a year,well they are very misinformed!!
Friday my first fare was a guy from Uganda here for a financial conference.The world’s biggest finacial whizzs having a mind fest in Key West,how ironic.Later I had some British folks,the man related when I told them how much I hate to drive on my days off.He also drives for a living and said he hates to drive downtown when he is not working.
Saturday night I didnt go 2 hours in a row without a fare,instead I went two separate hours without a fare.There was nothing and nowhere I could go to find a fare.And the streets were full of other empty taxis.Shortly before the end of my shift I got a call at a local restaraunt.I pulled up,the people walked out and stared at me.Then they asked if I was here for them,I said yes.No- I just showed up after you called in the middle of a residential area by accident!They continued to stare at the cement,fidget and shuffle.
“Do you need a cab or not I asked?” As traffic was lining up behind me.No they called a different company.
Next call was at a hotel.I pull up to the driveway there is a cab dropping off in front of me and the attendent puts the people in that cab,though he called us.Great!
I was disgusted at that point.I had enough of people who want me to take them to get beer off the meter,promising me that they are good tippers.I wonder what they would’ve given me if I hadnt loaded 6 cases in the trunk?
And yes a big surprise for all of you,Thanksgiving sucks for business,and it sucks for bartenders too.And since we are making 50% less than last year it should be especially bad.It will continue to be bad way after next year.Dont tell me it’s like this all over.Those of us in the hospitality industry dont even get a pay check.
Okay I promise more interesting reading at a later date,soon! Maybe it will even be cheerful,ha ha.