Tuesday, April 04, 2006

XVIII

I never in a million years would have dreamt that becoming a cab driver would restore my faith in humanity. But, I've determined that by and large most people are good people who are just trying to have fun. After almost two years of driving I have yet to have a run out, I can count on two hands the number of times I haven't been paid for a ride in one way shape or form and there is really only one instance where I feared for my safety.....

**For the sake of my own personal safety and that of my brothers in the future, I have changed distress radio communication procedures for the purposes of this story**


I was cruising DT searching for a fare or a good stand to stage on. I found a flag on the corner of Main and Bridger. A black gentleman, mid 30's got in the passenger side backseat and gave a destination of Arizona Charlies(west).


I don't know what it was but I had a bad feeling about the guy from the start. As a cabbie your instincts are really the only thing you can count on when it comes to your safety...that and your two-way. My instincts told me not to take this guy but I was lured by the nice ride going up to the west side of town. I should have told the guy to get out before I even took my foot off the brake, instead I activated my turn signal and made my way towards the freeway.

I don't get but a couple of blocks and my passenger slides over the backseat so he is now sitting directly behind me. Seriously restricting my view of him in the mirror.
I can only think of a few reasons why you would need to sit directly behind me and none of them end up with me going home tonight.

After immediately having a bad feeling about this guy, Im now pretty fucking nervous. I knew that I needed to get him to slide back over so at least I could see what he was doing, but before I attempted that I got on the radio. In situations like these your two-way is your lifeline.

Normally when you call dispatch on the two-way you state your cab number and wait for a reply. In situations such as these there are a lot of codes that you can say on the air to inform dispatch of your status. Anything from I don't feel good about this ride, but everything is ok as of this moment, to an emergency situation. Dispatch knows where you stand by not only what you say, but more importantly how you say it. This is also useful because everything that is said on the radio the passenger can hear just as easily as I can.

At this point Im fine and this entire dilemma could be in my head so I get on the radio and inform dispatch accordingly. Basically at this point I just want to let them know my location, where Im dropping and my status.

I was driving cab #443

Me:
cab #4443 to dispatch


Simply by adding a four in front of my number dispatch immediately knows the situation.

Dispatch:
#4443 go ahead


Me:
4443, I just loaded Main and Bridger. Going on a 105 to 58


105 is a code that is basically reiterating that as of this moment Im ok, but something might be happening. It also informs all the other drivers to stay off the air so dispatch can keep in constant contact with me without interference. 58 is the cab stand at Arizona Charlies.

Passenger:
what was all that about?


Me:
Oh...I was just letting my dispatcher know that I have a passenger and Im leaving the strip corridor to drop off at Arizona Charlies. .....Anytime you leave the strip area they want you to tell them, that way if they have a call in that area they know Im there.


I stated it like that knowing that dispatch was gonna be calling me shortly to see if I could pick up one of their regulars. When dispatch asks you if you can pick up a company regular, that means they want to know if you are alright. Yes means yes and no means no.

At this point I need to try and see if I can get this guy to slide over.

Hey man can I get you to slide over, you're blocking my mirror.


sure man, no problem.


And he did. This made me feel a little better that I could at least see what he was doing. Not two seconds after he slides back over he goes:

can you break a hundred man? All I have are hundreds.


I just got started tonight. You're my second ride, I don't have enough change. We can stop somewhere along the way if you want, otherwise we can just run into the casino when we get there. No biggie


I was glad he slid over but that question is very bad news. My only hope was that he believed my answer. I don't recall but I'm sure I had at least $200 in my pocket at that time. Could have been as high as $5-600.

Dispatch:
Cab #4443


Me:
#4443 go ahead


Dispatch:
I just got a call for a company regular on Flamingo & Decatur, can you load that after you clear?


Me:
Negative, we just got on the freeway, I'm still 15 minutes before I clear...call me back though if nobody else wants it and I'll see what I can do.


Dispatch:
that's a copy


From that point I was floating up the I-95. Whatever it was that was going to happen to me I wanted to get it over with. If I got pulled over, at least there would be a cop there. Along the way dispatch called me once more to see if I could load the company regular and I declined again. I made it to the Decatur exit and made my way south. Now only a couple miles from my destination. Then one of the supervisors gets on the air. (also a cabbie)

Supervisor:
Cab # 404 to cab #4443


Me:
Cab #404 go ahead


Supervisor:
Did I hear you say you were clearing at 58?


Me:
that's a copy..Arizona Charlies in just a couple minutes


I actually said the name of the place as opposed to saying the stand number this time in an attempt to inform my passenger that what I said before wasn't a lie. 58=Arizona Charlies. The more conflict I can keep out of this situation the better. The last thing I want is this guy to think I lied to him before.

Supervisor:
Im actually behind you right now. I'm picking up a personal of mine in this neighborhood and they're are actually going to need two cabs, there is 8 in their party. Can I follow you to 58 and then you can follow me to my personal so we can get all of them?


...A little risky considering all the guy had to do was turn around to see that there wasn't another cab there. But I liked where my sup was going with this. At least right now this guy thinks there is a cabbie right behind me that's got my back.

Me:
that's a copy #404, I can help you with that


As we're pulling into 58 I'm starting to feel a little relieved since I've made it this far. We get to the front door and the guy actually pays me for the ride, with a $20 bill mind you. I definitely didn't see that coming.

Thankfully he didn't notice that there wasn't another cab behind me when I cleared him because as he was walking away from my cab he lifted up the back of his shirt to show me the gun that was tucked in his pants. Almost as if to say...." I was gonna rob you, but you're a smooth cat so I'm gonna let you go this time"

I pulled out of there and drove a block:

Me:
Cab #443 to dispatch


Dispatch
is that a copy on the company regular?


Last but not least dispatch is double checking to insure that I'm ok.

Me:
that's affirmative dispatch...Thanks a ton guys, you have no idea. Breakfast is on me tonight


Dispatch:
that's a copy, glad you're OK


I then called metro and informed them of the situation. Hoping we could catch this guy before he gets in another cab. They informed me that there wasn't much they could do because I wasn't sure of the exact location of the suspect. What am I supposed to do? Follow the guy with the gun that wants to rob me? However they did instruct me to meet TA at the yard so they could view my camera footage. Nothing came of that.

It was crazy. That entire time, he knew, that I knew. And most likely because of that he did nothing. There are undoubtedly dumber cabbies out there that will make much easier targets.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad you are ok, brother.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I enjoy your blog and keep up the good writing.

Anonymous said...

i luv reading your blog....

was i in your cab recently???

my wife and i got a ride from wynn to the fitz on sunday night 03/19. our conversation had to do with cell phone service and u had a cingular razor...the cab driver was a bigger guy. just curious. we also talked about the wynn hooking up the the cab drivers with show tix and hotel room. anyway, never got the guys name, thought it might be you....keep up the blog!

Anonymous said...

my heart was racing just reading your story. Glad you're okay! Be safe!

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, i see u and i like the same kinda music...."got moe.?" anyway, any word on vegoose in vegas this fall?

thanks!

MrFunkMD said...

Anony @ 10:38-

Nope that wasnt me. Im not nearly cool enough to have a razor. Ha Ha. I've always thought that camera phones were retarded anyway. I went with the $10 Samsung and the 2 year Sprint contract.

Anony @ 10:50 -

From all accounts Vegoose is on for this year as well. I personally thought that fest was an overwhelming success last year. They also sent out a lengthy survey a month or so ago asking last years visitors how they could make the fest better. So that tells me they're serious about it. Personally, I thought the UM late show @ HOB was the best show in Vegas in 05'. And who could forget Ween on Halloween @ the Joint??? Although the Review Journal ranked the top 10 concerts in vegas in 05. The UM and Ween shows did not make the list, and surprisngly the Arcade Fire set @ Vegoose made #1. I think I was at JJ at the time. If it is on for this year, I'll be up front ragin it with the best of them. Good to see other folks on blogger have good tastes in music too. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Enjoy your blog...Thanks for taking the time to write.

Kristin said...

God damn, Andy. That is one scary ass story. I'm glad you're a smart guy & taking care of yourself though. The last thing we would want is to visit you in the hospital, or worse.

Surviving this situation is certainly more of an achievment than taking a shit ;)

DNA024 said...

Holy shit man. Glad to hear every thing turned out ok for you. Stay safe.

Andy Kaufman said...

Great story.

I'm glad Mr Funk wasn't harmed in the writing of this blog.

Anonymous said...

You could drive cab in Vegas for 10 years with out a problem, then one day someone throws gas on you, and lights you on fire. Or shoots you in the face, for a gang initiation. Or stabs you in the neck, just because they want to see what it feels like. Or strangles you with your own michraphone cord. It is not a safe job. But you do it to make a living. You do it 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. You probably wont make more than 30-35 thousand a year, including tips, perks, and referrals. You may make more, if your a thief, a long hauler, and a pimp. But not much more. You are a grunt for the Taxi-Limo monopily king pins of Vegas. You fuck up, they fire you, and hire someone from Nigeria, Ehtiopia, or Croatia. who thinks who thinks 12 hour days, and 5 day weeks are like being on vacation. The press hates you, the hotels hate you, the public distrusts you. The police watch you, the Taxi cab Authority watches you, and cites you every chance they get to justify thier existence. If a pedestrian is hit by a tourist, it never makes the news. If a pedestrian is hit by a cab, it's front page news. If you drive cab in Las Vegas, you are in for trouble. One way or another. Unless you are a masochist, my advise to Vegas cabbies is to get out. Take a normal, ho hum job that gives you paid holidays, sick days, overtime pay. And best of all, an 8 hour work day. And if you must drive a cab as your means of livlihood, do it where you can lease, or own your own cab. Where you can set your own hours, days off, and drive when it is to your own advantage. My 2 cents worth, having been there, and done that.