ATTENTION READERS: WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IS A CONTINUATION OF AN EXISTING STORY. FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR, I WOULD SUGGEST YOU START AT THE BEGINNING
OR PREVIOUS POSTS:
It was after midnight on a Sunday night and I was talking to my girlfriend on the phone while dead-heading downtown from the Strip. The Strip hotels were stacked full of cabs so even though it was late I decided to try my luck downtown. Shortly after merging onto US 95 south at the spaghetti-bowl, I discovered that the usual downtown exit, Casino Center Dr., was closed for repair forcing me to continue to the Las Vegas Blvd. off ramp where I was able to exit the freeway. I made a right turn heading south onto L.V. Blvd. and caught the green lights at Stewart and then Ogden. I thought the Strip was dead but that was nothing compared to this. It was a ghost-town. After passing Ogden I noticed four individuals standing on the curb to my right, one of them, a man, was frantically waving his arm indicating he was requesting taxi service. The universal signal.
I quickly pulled over, unlocked the doors and ended my phone conversation in one maneuver. Two boys and two girls climbed in and asked me to take them to the Palazzo. I guess you could say that my pending citation failed to serve as a sufficient deterrent to the crime. Besides, they thanked me for picking them up. I continued past the intersection of LV Blvd and Fremont and out of the corner of my eye I noticed the lights turn on and in no time the cop was behind me. He had parked in a unlit parking lot across the street beside a building and I didn’t see him. Undoubtedly, he was parked there to catch somebody doing this exact thing. That intersection has a lot of foot traffic generally and there isn’t a cab stand nearby. On a dead night like tonight, this is a major score to find these people as it saves me from killing an hour of my night sitting on a stand waiting for a fare to approach me. Personally I feel it’s unconscionable for anyone to expect me, or any cabbie trying to earn a living, to 1.) Refuse that business & 2.) Deny the public the service. To my knowledge, in no other major metropolis in the world is this practice illegal. Only in Vegas, or so they say. Considering the time, location and situation surrounding my detainment, and even though the bright lights of the squad car blinded me, I knew already that this was a TaxiCab Authority officer behind me. There was no question.
“Why are we getting pulled over?” the man sitting shotgun asked.
“Because I picked you up, don’t worry it’ll be ok,” I replied as the Officer was already approaching my window.
Taxi Cab Authority Officer Kevin S. Hinkle stopped just short of my window and leaned forward to peak inside the vehicle, “Driver I need your registration, permit, health card and drivers license. Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“No sir I do not,” I replied and handed him the documents.
“How long have you been a cab driver Mr. ….uh, Funk?”
“Almost six years.”
“And you don’t know why I pulled you over?”
“No sir, I do not.”
“I pulled you over for interfering with traffic while loading.”
“I see… But sir, there was no traffic there.”
“Yes there was, there was two cars right behind you.”
“Um I don’t think so sir, I don’t see anyone around.”
“There were two cars there.”
“Sir,” my passenger sitting beside me interrupted, “we’ve been standing out here for a few minutes waiting for a cab and this guy was the first car we’ve seen since we got here.”
“That’s not your concern sir, just sit tight and we’ll get you out of here real soon,” and he walked back to his squad car.
“I don’t get it,” my passenger said, “is that guy retarded? There weren’t any cars anywhere!”
“I know I know,” I said excited that my passenger were already catching on to my theory, “this is how it goes man. Don’t worry I’ll deal with it.”
“You think he’s giving you a ticket?”
“Well maybe I can help you,” he said, “ I’ll give you my email address and you let me know and I’ll send you statement that I was a witness and that there wasn’t any traffic.”
“Yeah we all will,” the others agreed.
“Thanks, yeah I might take you up on that, that might help thank you.”
Officer Hinkle finally made his way back to my window and gave me the bad news. As he handed me the oversized palm pilot for me to make my mark and promise to appear, I asked him, “ officer you’re citing me under NRS or LVO?”
“NRS,” and he handed me the ticket, “I’m going to let you keep this ride you have a safe night ok?”
We continued south bound on the Strip until we reached my passengers destination of the Palazzo. Upon our arrival the man sitting shotgun besides me asked for a sheet of paper and pen so he could write down his email address for me. I gave him a business card and he wrote his email on the back and returned it to me. I was flattered that all of them seemed genuinely concerned about my plight. The man gave me a nice tip in addition to his previous generosity and even took it as far as to apologize for their part in my getting a ticket.
“That’s ok,” I replied, “I’ve been trying to get this ticket for years.”
To be continued…PART V