Monday, March 22, 2010


December 30th, 2006, 11pm.

I loaded a middle aged gentleman and his three boys at the Venetian and they gave a destination of the MGM. The oldest boy, probably in his early teens, sat beside me up front and the two younger sons shared the backseat with their Dad. We hadn't even traveled 20 feet, just to the little turn around past the valet tunnel and the Dad seemed to be innocent enough in posing the question:

"Sooo are you looking forward to working tomorrow?"

"Actually sir I'm not. New Years Eve is the only day of the year that I don't really like this job."

Which is true. NYE is more of a grind than anything. It's more about surviving and keeping all four fenders on it than it is about cashing in. The road closures make traffic unnavigable and it's fucking amateur hour out there as far as the tourists and locals alike. At least, that's what it is these days. My first ride of the year this year was a puker. The first five minutes of the year for me were spent watching a boyfriend clean up her girlfriends puke of my backseat while I tried to bum a cigarette from someone to cover the smell. I received no tip.

But his reply to my answer is one that I'll never forget. It's the reason I remember the event in such detail. It's the reason for the story. He'd seemed to have forgotten that I was actually still in the cab when he preached to his sons

"You see guys....that's why education is so important."

Did this guy really just say that? I mean, good lord what a dense motherfucker. There are a lot of things that I can handle as it pertains to my job. Obviously, the lesbians and I are all good. I can have fun with the idiots and make fun of the posers. I can handle the same stupid asshole questions a dozen times nightly. "Excuse me sir, what is that big project they are building there next to the Bellagio?" "Oh that? That's a strip club." I can kick it in traffic. And yes I'll even get over an occasional puke session. What I can't handle, and what any reader of this blog will know, is not being paid and not being respected. I'm a very big proponent, if you will, of respect, and will always treat most everyone as such. That is until you no longer deserve it. If you can't respect me or what it is that I'm trying to do, than you and I are going to have problems. And these days I'll most likely have no qualms about hashing the matter out with you. Or better yet, just simply kicking your ass out. If you think about it, this is something that seems to be missing in our worlds these days. Respect. As much as I hate it, even I will take the opportunity to engage in a little self righteousness every now and again. But this situation was different. There were kids in the car and although Dad was apparently clueless as to the proper way to raise them, that's no good reason for me not to take the high road.

I was contemplating my reply so deeply over those following moments, I couldn't even tell you how the kids reacted to their fathers lack of tact. Perhaps they had grown immune to it already. I don't know. Finally I interrupted:

"That's a little presumptuous don't you think sir?"

"What do you mean?"

His question to my question is peculiar because it really can mean only one of two things. Either he is so thick headed he can't understand that he just might've offended somebody, or he simply doesn't understand what presumptuous means. Either way, you're not the brightest bulb if you don't know what the definition of presumptuous is and at the same time chastise people for not attending college. I'll even turn the whole thing upside down and say that this sort of person is actually an argument against college. If going to college means I'm going to end up like you I think I'll pass dude thanks.

"You assume quite a bit about someone you don't know. You think that since I drive a taxi I must not be educated. Isn't that what you mean?"

"Oh. You went to college?"

He said as we made a right turn to head south on Koval.

"As a matter of fact I did."

There's no reason not to play the charade at this point.

"Did you graduate?"

"I did not."

"You flunked out?"

My Lord what an asshole...

"I was three semesters from finishing when I left on my own accord."


"Didn't see the point any more. Some meaningless plaque that qualifies me for a task that was destined to never be pursued in the first place and for your cooperation you'll only receive a 5 figure debt sum if you're lucky."

"What did you study?"

"I was pursuing a B.M. in Music Education."

"What kind of grades did you get? ...If you don't mind my asking?"

"Now you're concerned about offending me?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Since it pertains to the conversation, I was the recipient of two different scholarships. I made the deans list on three occasions and I was on pace to graduate with honors when I left."

"School was easy for you?"

"High school wasn't, but in College I studied subjects I was interested in."

"And now you drive a cab?"

"You got it."

"So you got good grades, you obviously see value in education, why didn't you finish?"

"I answered that question. And it's foolish to conclude that there is no education devoid of a university or any other educational institution for that matter. The most important lessons in life will most assuredly be learned far from the constraints of the classroom anyway. I used to think it was cliche like everybody else but I think differently about it now. I guess you could say I'm more educated. A friend of mine told me once that school wasn't there to teach you anything except how to learn. Presumably so when you do graduate and find a job, you'll be able to learn it very quickly. School doesn't teach you history, it teaches you how to teach history. Think about how detached teachers are these day. Now they have the online classes and the closest you ever get to your so called teacher is an email address. Is that really that much different than going to the library and reading a book? It just seems like a useless drone of institutions that were never proven by anyone to be the best method in the first place and yet we will repeat their failures religiously. The chalkboard and the lecture and the reading assignment and the homework assignment and then a quiz and then a test and then a final. It just seems so antiquated. It's 2010 and our education system from kindergarten through grad and post grad are in shambles financially and even worse actually. The results don't lie. We are an incredibly dumb populous as a whole and you can't point to any specific reason for that more than the education system. We need to tear down the walls. Substitute the antiquated with the innovative. And I'll tell ya, grades are nothing but a detriment to the educational system. You don't prepare to educate yourself, you prepare for a test and there is a world of difference in that. And we penalize creativity within that process. Pirsig said, "the best students are always flunking, every good teacher knows this."

The young boy sitting next to me interrupted

"Do you feel like it was a waste of time, going to college and not finishing?"

A fair question from anyone, but especially from a thirteen year old.

Absolutely not. I enjoyed my classes, I learned a lot. I played sports and was in a few bands. Met some great people and had a great time. I could never regret something like that. Besides, to say an unfinished college education is a waste of time is to put to much stock in the degree itself. It means something because society tells us it does, and not because it does necessarily."

I got out and opened the door for the dad who was sitting behind me. He paid me an amount I can't recall for a fare I don't remember and almost seemed apologetic when he said,

"Hey, I'm just trying to teach my boys about the value of education."

I handed the man his change, looked him in the eye and replied "that's nice, but perhaps first teach them about manners and about being gentlemen."

Which in my opinion, is something far more important than anything learned from a history book or a calculus worksheet, a political science lecture or a foreign language crash course. Or some fucking cab driver. He walked his boys into the MGM, holding the littlest ones hand and most assuredly never heeded my advice. At least he wasn't a puker.

Back to work.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


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?”


“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,

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





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.”


“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.