**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
cab #4443 to dispatch
Simply by adding a four in front of my number dispatch immediately knows the situation.
#4443 go ahead
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.
what was all that about?
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.
#4443 go ahead
I just got a call for a company regular on Flamingo & Decatur, can you load that after you clear?
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.
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)
Cab # 404 to cab #4443
Cab #404 go ahead
Did I hear you say you were clearing at 58?
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.
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.
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:
Cab #443 to dispatch
is that a copy on the company regular?
Last but not least dispatch is double checking to insure that I'm ok.
that's affirmative dispatch...Thanks a ton guys, you have no idea. Breakfast is on me tonight
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.