Thursday, March 04, 2010

XLVII

I had made a comment before about how every time somebody calls me an asshole I know I’m on the right track. The more I thought about that the more I realized that you may not fully understand what I mean exactly. There is a good chance that you could take it to mean that I actually enjoy getting under peoples skin and when they finally call me an asshole that’s some sort of verification that my methods are working. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I hate people that purposely do that and therefore I consciously try to avoid it. Being an asshole for the fun of it doesn’t lend itself to good tips anyway. However some people do indeed have it coming and just like Timothy Leary said about himself, I believe with me, you get the cab driver that you deserve. If that happens to mean that I’m an asshole than that’s what it means. And you calling me one is much more than a verification, it’s a victory. Continue reading if you’re still confused.

I loaded a middle aged white man at the airport and after I placed his luggage in the trunk he got in he told me his destination of the MGM. I sighed sadly having come to the realization that the Cabbie Gods had seemingly determined that I would be stuck in traffic for my entire shift today. Today was going to be one of those.

“Well Sir” I replied, “normally we would just take Tropicana straight there and be there in no time but that road has massive road construction going on right now and it’s down to two lanes from four which effectively makes it a parking lot today. So if it’s all the same to you we can take the freeway. Normally the freeway would cost you considerably more but right now it’s going to cost you the same, maybe even less and I can get you there in 10 minutes instead of 30. Ok?”

“What are you saying now?”

“Sir there is a lot of road construction and ridiculous traffic getting to the MGM at this time. The ride normally costs ten bucks but unfortunately today it’s going to be more than twenty due to the traffic. So as I said, if it’s all the same to you we can take a different route and I can save us a lot of time. I’m just telling you what’s going on as a courtesy.”

“Lemme guess, you’re trying to take me the long way aren’t you?”

“Technically I suppose you could say that but I’m not costing you any more money and saving you a lot of time in the process. If we get stuck in traffic that meter is going up a dollar every two minutes. So like I said, if that’s ok with you than that’s what we’ll do.”

“How do I know there’s traffic like you say there is? Sounds like bullshit to me.”

“Well I just drove by it going the opposite direction on the way here so I’m certain. If you’re asking me why you should trust me, I don’t know what to say about that.”

“I’ve never met a trustworthy cabbie in my life.”

“No offense taken Sir.”

This is going swimmingly I thought to myself. Then I wondered if in my 6 years of driving a cab, I had ever met a trustworthy passenger. And the answer to that is hardly. I don’t even have to think about it.

“Listen just take the shortest route ok? I know all about your guys' highway bullshit. I come here all the time.”

“Have it your way,” I said.

And I had planned on that being the last words I would say to the guy. There is really no reason to make any attempts at small talk from this point on. I mean, after someone calls you a liar and a cheat there isn’t any point in trying to be friends. In fact if the situation were different you might just get knocked-out.

I was right about the traffic. In fact it was much worse than it was when I drove by it less than an hour ago. It was so bad that we waited through the light at Swenson and Tropicana 5 or 6 times before we were even able to make our way onto Tropicana. The meter read close to 12 dollars already, more than the whole ride should cost and we weren’t even off of airport property yet. When we were finally able to make the turn, one of the two lanes happened to have about 10 less cars in it and everyone, it seemed, was trying to jockey for position to get into the shorter line and save themselves a indeterminable, fractional amount of time in the process. Everyone but me that is. I on the other hand, went out of my way to get into the lane that had more cars in it. The longer line. Afterwords I waited for it and the guy didn’t make me wait for very long.

“Why did you do that?”

“I’m sorry Sir?” I said playing stupid.

“Why did you get in this lane?”

I pretended to think about it for a second, “I don’t understand Sir, what do you mean?”

“WHY DID YOU GET IN THIS LANE? THE OTHER ONE HAD WAY LESS CARS IN IT!”

“I thought you wanted to wait in traffic sir, so let’s wait in traffic. I thought you would like that.”

“You’re an asshole, you know that?”

“Sure I am. You’re accusing me of deceiving you in an attempt to take you a more expensive route when you don’t even know what the fuck you’re talking about. I was trying to save you time and money, you called me a liar and a thief…but I’m the asshole in the cab?”

Neither of us said another word the remaining 30 minutes in traffic. In the end the ride took the better part of 45 minutes and cost the guy nearly $30 dollars, a full 30 minutes, and 10 dollars more than it could have if he had believed me. Naturally, I received no tip.

-----------------------


I had the green arrow to make the right hand turn into the Bellagio. As I neared the intersection I noticed a couple, both pushing strollers moseying their way in the crosswalk and completely ignoring the don’t-cross signal as well as anyone or anything else that they may be inconveniencing. This is not a new phenomenon by any means. The Las Vegas Boulevard is rife with individuals disregarding pedestrian laws for a wide variety of reasons. It’s just one of those things that you as a cab driver must deal with and should constantly be on the lookout for. I don’t care how in the right you are, if you killed somebody I’m guessing that’s the sort of thing that remains in your mind forever.

So wanting to avoid any potential disasters, as I approached the intersection and the ill-attentive parents in the crosswalk, I tooted my horn twice just to inform these people that myself, as well as a long line of cars right behind me were coming and they’d be best suited to get themselves and their children out of harm’s way. In China, cabbies (and all other drivers) use their horns as a useful tool to make those crossing the streets aware of their approach. I recall a certain cab ride from an airport to a hotel where the driver used his horn easily 100 times during a 15 minute ride. We didn't hit any pedestrians (although we did turn down the wrong way on a one way once and almost forced a moped into the fence). And yet, not a single person yelled at us for being so rude.

Unfortunately, or should I say naturally, the father misinterpreted my honking as something other than a useful warning and proceeded to shout at me,
“FUCK YOU CABBIE YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE!”

“HEEEY I WONDER WHAT THAT ORANGE HAND MEANS.” I yelled back at him out my window.

“YEAH HILARIOUS BRO FUCK YOU AGAIN OK?”

“YEAH YOU GUYS ARE QUITE THE PARENTS AREN’T YOU? YOU BRING YOUR KIDS TO VEGAS AND TAKE THEM OUT AT 2 IN THE MORNING AND TEACH THEM HOW TO J-WALK AND CUSS AND PUBLIC AND EVERYTHING. THAT’S GREAT MAN!”

“YOU’RE A REAL PIECE OF SHIT CABBIE YA KNOW THAT?

“RIIIIIIIGHT, I’M THE LOWLIFE HERE HUH?”

With that they continued to cross right in front of me, only now taking their sweet time out of spite instead of ignorance. The numerous assholes behind me laid on their horns as we all waited.

-------------------------


I loaded four middle aged white ladies at the Las Vegas Hilton and they needed to go to the Wynn. They seemed like nice enough ladies and we were doing just fine until southbound Paradise Road brought us to a red light at Desert Inn Road. Desert Inn from Paradise on the East side of the strip, to Valley View on the west side, is what they call an “arterial”. That stretch of DI is a miniature freeway right through the heart of town and it’s incredibly useful for anyone needing to get from one side of the town to the other quickly. There are no stoplights or exits as it tunnels underneath the Las Vegas BLVD and bridges over I-15. Every New Years Eve that stretch of DI is like a pot of gold for any cab driver as all of the intersecting streets on the Strip are closed. For one night a year it is the only way to get from one side of the strip to the other from Russell to Sahara.

The Wynn-Encore property sits adjacent to the DI arterial on the South side and as you are headed South on Paradise there it appears as though you need to make a right turn on DI to get to the Wynn. It’s right there. Or so it seems. However, any local would tell you that you can’t get to the Wynn from Desert Inn Road. Even though the Wynn sits on the very property where the Desert Inn once stood and coined the name of the road in the first place. Call me crazy but I just always thought it was funny that you couldn’t get to the Desert Inn from Desert Inn. At least, not in the time I lived in Vegas. This reminds me of Frank Sinatra Drive though. Please tell me that I’m not the only one who thinks it should be Frank Sinatra Way? Isn’t it obvious? I had some kind of traffic engineer guy in the cab a while back and I ran this no-brainer by him as we happened to be driving on Frank Sinatra Dr. and he responded in a burly voice, “Well a Way is a certain kind of road and they have to abide by those rules...” Blah blah blah blah Bullshit. You obviously have no idea what “My Way” was about. In Las Vegas we have a Jerry Lewis Way and a Frank Sinatra Drive. Figure that one out.

For the sake of clarity, one could easily, when needing to go from the Las Vegas Hilton to the Wynn, take Convention Center Dr. to LV BLVD and make a left and avoid any problems such as the one I’m about to encounter in the process. But, I prefer making two right turns instead of two lefts. You can be at the south door at the Wynn in 5 minutes and 8 bucks. Plus, it’s an easy out from there for me. I can go to all sorts of places. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.

“Aren’t you supposed to turn here?”

“No. I know it looks like it but we gotta go up a little bit further for our right.”

“Pam do you know?”

“I’m not sure Beth” said a voice from the backseat.

“Are you trying to fuck us?”

“No Maam,” I said trying not to laugh.

“Well I don’t understand it’s right there how can this not be the turn?”

“As I said Maam, I’m aware that it appears as such but believe me that that is not the way.”

“Why should we believe you?”

“Why should you not?”

“We’ve been fucked a few times already by you guys.”

“So I’m not my own person? I’m all those other guys?”

“Well we’ve been fucked already and it looks like you’re fucking us now.”

“Do you wish to make a right turn here Maam?”

“It’s right THERE!”

“Ok the light is green now so make up your mind.”

“Make the turn.”

“You’re sure?”

“Make the turn I said!”

We made the right and began heading straight towards WynnCore. Or so it seemed. Ten seconds later the entrance of the tunnel becomes visible as the giant all-encompassing concrete walls rise above your head and that is when the ignorant become enlightened. We cruised right past the Encore and at that moment if I really was an asshole I would have said, “look kids, Big Ben, Parliament!” But I didn’t say that, or anything for that matter.

Picking up speed we drove under the Las Vegas BLVD and then climbed up the medium grade ramp to get over I-15. Then a long straightaway followed by a couple of S-curves and at that point is when you need to back it off from 75 to the posted 45. As you descend the hill on the other side towards Valley View, Las Vegas Metro is usually waiting for you at the bottom. The bike cops love to camouflage in the business park on the North side there. It’s almost like I do this for a living.

The women didn’t say much to each other and I was the one who finally and sarcastically broke the silence when we got to the stoplight at Valley View.

“Ok. Now which way do you want to go?”

“You’re an asshole you know that?”

“Uh huh. The question remains.”

“Just take us to the Wynn asshole.”

“Very well.”

I did a U-turn and went straight back to Paradise and to the scene of our mishap. After two right turns we were at the Wynn two minutes later.

“So how much is it,” Beth said.

I looked at the meter and said, “24.70.”

“Fuck you how much does it really cost?”

I knew this was coming. So much so that, it’s almost like I do this for a living. “That doesn’t matter; you pay what the meter says.”

“You can’t do that. You screwed us over you prick!”

“I followed your lawful directive Maam. You must pay the meter.”

“Fuck you asshole. Who do you think you are? You can’t treat us like this you knew what you were doing this whole time.”

“Precisely.”

“Well we’re not going to pay you a dime how about that?”

“WHY DO YOU HAVE TO DO THIS ALL THE TIME BETH? Let’s just pay the guy and go, you told him to do that did you forget that already?” one of the other ladies said.

“Whatever Mary, I’m not payin this guy shit.”

Beth said and she started walking away. The other three ladies were still right beside me, and there is no doubt that they would have paid me. But it wasn’t them I was after. My victory was walking away from me.

“I wouldn’t do that Maam,” I raised my voice.

Beth turned around and started walking back towards me aggressively and said,
“Oh yeah, what are you going to do?”

“Well the first thing I’m going to do is call hotel security, who will find you and detain you and your friends. Then I will call the police, who upon questioning both parties will determine that you do indeed owe me twenty four dollars and seventy cents. If at that point you still refuse to pay me you will be forced to surrender some sort of collateral and or be arrested. Defrauding a cab driver is a misdemeanor in Nevada Maam. Besides all of that, I was doing right by you until your ignorant self accused me of nonsense. You’re calling me a thief and you don’t even know what the fuck you’re talking about. Think about that. Had you given me the benefit of any doubt whatsoever we wouldn’t be in this situation would we? Instead you were so convinced that I was screwing you that no one was going to stop you from you and here we are. Your friends know this already. So try as you might, you will pay me the meter or you will spend the night in jail. It’s entirely up to you.”

“You really are an asshole you know that?”

“I’m the asshole who’s about to get his 25 bucks though huh?”

“That’s right, you know you’re not getting a fuckin tip don’t you?”

“Knowing that you lost, and I beat you, is enough of a tip for me Maam.”

“Go fuck yourself cabbie ok?” Beth said as she handed me a twenty and a fiver. She quickly hurried off and did not notice Pam double back to hand me another five along with an apology.

At least from here it’s an easy out for me.

Back to work.

34 comments:

SoCore said...

Good writing, keep it coming!

Anonymous said...

I missed these stories, please keep them coming!

montrealmax said...

Karma! Keep it coming, please.

LilBit said...

I recently was led to your blog by Waiterrant, and LOVE IT!! You're straight up, honest and hilarious. Dude, keep it up!!

PS Now I've learned not only how not to piss off waiters, but to let the cabbies do the driving. LOL

Rich said...

Great stuff man! Love your stories!

Noto said...

absolute classic, I run bars for a living and pretty much get told I'm an asshole everyday, usually for the most trivial things. It's pure bliss when you let a rude person fuck themselvesafter you've given every opportunity to behave like a civil human being.

love reading your blog, it really brightens my day.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you write, really. but I feel like it's you against them. And while I can understand that. And that it makes the blog more interesting. Would it not be advantageous for you, to be with them? Everyone that climbs into your cab is at your mercy, and knows it.(Scary) If you enlist them in the journey, you empower them, comfort them, and do your job of getting them to their destination, as quickly, and cheaply as possible, isn't that a win, win? Example: Sir, the MGM is only one mile away, but the road is under construction, and the delays may take up to 30 minutes and cost you up to $30. If I take the longer route without the delays the ride will be 10 minutes, and approx $20. What would you like me to do? No matter what the customer decides, he has a clue as to what is happening, the choice is his, and can not feel fucked either way. Go ahead, call me an asshole.

Anonymous said...

i too was recently brought here by waiterrant.net and absolutley love this blog! please update more!

Hawaiianmark said...

As usual, very good.

Dont let 'em win.....Ever!

Aloha - Hawaiianmark

jan said...

I think people are just so pissed off at CEO's, government and anyone that has the potential to control their money that they "mistrust" and assume the worst when they are forced to trust someone. Are we in the age of SCAM?....I hope not!

HoundOfDoom said...

Glad to read you again. I'm sorry for the jerks that occasionally cross your path.

The blog is excellent. I used to work in the service industry, and reading about people that are living that life keeps me grounded and grateful. I could never do your job.

Keep the faith!

SPRUNT said...

Keep on keepin' on!

I think the very sad truth of the matter is that people keep hearing about bad experiences and long-hauls, as well as experiencing them personally.

Case in point, on my last trip a cabbie tried to take me from the Venetian to the MGM via I-15. I asked why and he said we'd be sitting in traffic on LVB. Traffic didn't look too bad to me so I said I'd rather take LVB. He got all upset and got in the left turn lane (in retrospect, we should have gotten out of the cab there). We made it down LVB with no issues whatsoever and he seemed terribly upset about that fact.

It's shit like this that make people wary about the cabs around LV. It would be nice if there was some kind of way to identify the trustworthy cabbies from the long-haulers.

I'd like to say that I'm a trusting soul and give people the benefit of the doubt, but it's difficult after experiences like this.

So, as consumers of the services you offer, do you have any words of wisdom for us?

MrFunkMD said...

To LiBit:

Something I've been sayin for a long time...Everyone knows not to piss off the waiter before he brings your FOOD, and yet people will jump at the chance to talk shit to their Cabbie while their LIFE is in his hands.

To Anonymous @ 7:33:

Realize that I've been driving a cab for 6 years and if you just count the stories here they represent only a fraction of a fraction of the rides that I've had.

Of course it's advantageous for me to be on my customers side and in most every case I feel that I am. Make no mistake this is a service business and it's easy to make good tips being the good guy in a sea of bad ones.

Perfect example happened tonight. Hours ago I picked up these two blonds at NYNY going to Palazzo. It was 1:30am they just got out of Rok and didn't have a good time. I was having a great night and when we got there I told them not to worry about the fare. 12 bucks. No problem, this one is on me now go win some money your luck just changed! They were thanking me as they were getting out and then one of them asked, "Well can we at least give you a tip?" I laughed and said I guess and then she handed me ten bucks. What goes around comes around, sometimes in mere seconds.

But you work 12 hours. Many days. Thousands of people in and out. Sometimes you're in a good mood and sometimes shits just not going your way. And sometimes the people just have it coming. And then other times, it's just fun to be a sarcastic sob.

The only question here is to determine which ride makes the best story.

MrFunkMD said...

To jan:

I don't disagree, but there is a predisposition towards cab drivers, be it deserved or not.

The real issue here is principle. A lot of drivers would say something like, "these people get all pissed off about 5 dollars and then go drop thousands in the casino". And to some extent this is probably true in most cases, but it's about the principle. You ripped me of for five fucking dollars and I'm pissed! I totally understand and more importantly I totally agree.


To Sprunt:

I've made the joke that the first longhaul probably happened soon after the first cab started picking people up. It's the nature of things.

I will admit that I've done it many many times. It's not something I'm proud of but it happened.

What you don't know is that there is a much much larger order here. I'm not comfortable talking about it except to say that if there were no outside forces upon cab drivers you would see the level of integrity skyrocket.

My advice would be to do what I do. You've all been here enough times. You have a basic idea of which direction you need to go or about how much it should cost, especially if your going back to the place that you came from for example.

When I get in a cab, which I have done many times, usually when I'm hammered and going home, I never let on that I'm a cab driver and I never tell him which way to go (unless he asks) and then I just sit back and see how he plays it. I give them the opportunity to do the right thing. And if and when he doesn't, I know which direction he should of went, I know how much it should cost, and that's what I pay him.

"I dont' give a shit what the fuckin meter says. I know it cost me x to get home from here and that's what I'm paying you. If you have a problem with that you can call the TA and get them here and explain to them the route that you took and after they tell me to give you x dollars they are going to write you a ticket." That's what you say. And then hold your ground.

Stand up for yourself. Stand up for what's right.

If you have real problems with a cab driver always get the cab number. It's posted everywhere on the outside of the car and inside by the permit. This is paramount. The number for TA is 702-486-6532. It is also posted in the cab on the drivers permit. The permit is also numbered and it's a bonus if you remember that. It's a 5 or 6 digit number in red.

But fear not. There are many many many times more crimes committed against Las Vegas Cabbies than they commit against you. The instances of a Cabbie assaulting, a victim or anything else for that matter are very rare.


Thanks everyone for reading. Good night.

aburtch said...

Fantastic writing. Keep up the good fight.

joivan said...

Drove cab in two cities for a total of 10 years. Never had the nerve to say the things that you said to customers. My father also drove cab and died before he should have. The big problem for all drivers is stress combined with lack of exercise puts on weight and creates conditions for cardiovascular degeneration. Although I enjoy reading your blog, I hope you find another line of work that is not so taxing on the body.

Saline said...

I too just recently started reading your page from Waiter Rant. I love your page... please keep writing! I still want to know what happened with the woman that gave you her number =) Did you ever call?

DodgerGirl said...

I've been going to Las Vegas for years and can honestly say I've only ever had one bad experience with a cab driver there.

Enjoying your blog, thanks!

Christina said...

Hi there. Found your blog through the Waiterrant site last week and have just finished catching up on reading it in its entirety!

I love your style and the amazing stories you have to tell. Even if you consider a story to be boring, it's still of interest to me! I come from a totally different world and currently reside in London, UK.

Keep up the good work!

Bushman said...

I've driven in Vegas enough times to kinda know where I'm going, and your Desert Inn/Encore experience story is like a friggin' bullseye to me. I was there 2 weeks ago w/ my parents when my father told me what I needed to do along that road...of course, he's been to Vegas twice and never driven. I told him he was wrong. And then he gets mad and says I'm an idiot...and when I proved him wrong after just a few short minutes, I got the "well, that was a smart move, babe!" comment...

He's an idiot but I love him. Thanks for making me laugh right along with ya'!

Bob Mergaert said...

Wow, I'm thinking that the comments, and your response to them, is damn near as good as the original post! Your "there is a pre disposition against cab drivers, be it deserved or not." OK, your out there, what is your honest, best guess, percentage of honest (normally) to dishonest drivers?
And , I don't care how many times people have been to Vegas, they are not going to do what you do, or know what you know. If you have an experience where you feel you were butt F**ked, your not likely to want to repeat it, and the shuttle bus (owned by the cab company's) will be your lousy alternative.
In my opinion, the greedy cab company's are committing suicide by requiring their drivers to steal for them by long hauling, and putting their tips on the meter to keep up with the "average". There will come a time when only the worst of the worst will be able to compete for the job, and the tourist when asked about taking a taxi will say "what, do I look stupid?". I don't know how much longer you can hang on to your gig, and still maintain your self respect. Because I know you will either maintain the average, or be out of work. And that the average is going to be determined by those of least character. Tell me there is no pressure on you to maintain that average.

Tasia said...

Absolutely hilarious and divine! Keep it up!

MrFunkMD said...

Everyone needs to listen to what Bob is saying...it's obvious he knows what he's talking about.

To answer your question:

"OK, your out there, what is your honest, best guess, percentage of honest (normally) to dishonest drivers? "

It's complicated, as there are many things that one must consider.

If you only talked about the companies that own medallions enabling them to legally operate on the strip, airport and downtown. And drivers who took the most direct route reasonably every time versus drivers who purposely long-hauled one ride or more a day on average:

4 years ago I would have said it's about 50/50. Half the drivers are looking to do the right thing, half are looking to long-haul. Today I would say the drivers doing the right thing are next to zero. In this day and age an integrity prone hack is an unemployed one.

Eric said...

I actually got a little heated reading that story...good for you!

The Social Worker said...

I suppose you need a thick skin to be a cab driver. People in society have changed a lot and not always for the better. I guess it's true, just because someone is paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get them.

Vestige said...

hahaha, this shits awesome. glad i found it

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Anonymous said...

You are a f*cking a**hole and an idiot as the MGM passenger told you. Just do your god damn job and get in the lane with the fewer cars. You are a shitty cab driver in life...you are not here to teach lessons to people who pay for the food on your table. Just shut up and drive to where you are told with no backchat, please.

ManInBlack said...

Now I live on the Desert Inn Arterial behind Wynn/Encore. In the past week I have given the cabbie my address and told them where I was going. Both times they over shot my condo and went under the DI arterial. Each time when I told the cabbie afterwards that I am a local, and that I don't like being longhauled, they got mad and threatened to call the cops on me for not paying the full meter. When I said fine and I would also call the TA, they backed down when they saw I had the TA's Number pulled up on my cell phone.

Now most cab drivers in Vegas are honest and just trying to make a living. The problem is that the bad apples so to speak are ruining the reputations of all drivers. Hell I blame the companies themselves for making the drivers have to maintain a "average", or they get in trouble,

ltndncr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henna said...

good post, i liked your way of writing, the way stories are told is very genuine and fun to read

vishal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vishal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
manho valentine said...

I suppose you need a thick skin to be a cab driver. People in society have changed a lot and not always for the better. I guess it's true, just because someone is paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get them
gclub