Thursday, May 14, 2009

caps fan

I picked up a 40-something guy wearing a Capitals jacket just south of Clarendon yesterday and took him up to Dupont Circle. I had NPR on, and we talked a little bit about which bridge we were gonna take into DC, when suddenly, he says "you know what?" I assumed he had some special request about directions...."FUCK Dick Cheney!" (The radio had been about how Cheney has been talking about enhanced interrogation, etc.) "No seriously, FUCK THAT GUY. He's EVIL - I said it - he's EVIL."
I'm no fan of Dick Cheney, but I had no idea that was coming - I sorta shook my head, agreeing with him, and said "Yeah, he's not that great," or something vanilla like that. But he'd already moved on by then and made a phone call - "Hey baby - oh you're so hot.....Yeah, I got the tickets....Uh huh, I told you I'd get the tickets and I delivered and you're so hot. Uh huh, yep....ok, love you long time" Sure, I felt a little dirty hearing his conversation, but after he hung up I said "You lucky devil, you get to go to the Caps game tonight."
"Yeah that girl is a cute little thing, it's my buddy's girlfriend. She's so hot!"

I didn't know what to say, so I just kept on driving. Finally I dropped him off at Front Page, he stepped out of the car, threw his hands out wide and yelled "I'm looking for a gay man!"

What a nut! Good tipper, too.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

thanks for the advice, buddy

I picked up a guy on an account at a bar near Capitol Hill yesterday evening. While telling me that he keeps a stack of cab vouchers around and goes through about four or five per day (basically defrauding his company), he dispensed the following nuggets of advice:

Bribe the Red Top dispatchers
Lose my "dumb jock" attitude (Ha! the guy guessed that I went to school on an athletic scholarship - who the hell would EVER believe that about me?)
Claire McCaskill is a loser Democrat
Don't ever get married (been married 21 years, and it sounds all good at the time but you don't realize how MISERABLE you're going to be and how much SHIT you have to put up with)
Work on a committee for a few years then leave and make huge amounts of money

He also said he's quitting next year and he's returning to California. What's he going to do? "Walk the earth." Yeah, he sounds like a real flower child. Also, he said we should get drinks and talk about my future, which I think I'll pass on.

Monday, May 11, 2009

manager material?

I walked in to pay for my cab this morning and my "mentor" waved me over to his office. There's been talk about moving me into the Inside operation at Red Top. He said that I've been doing a good job and that people like me around the office. I told him that I'm interested, of course - it would mean that I'd be a substitute manager, so I'd get a free day of the cab, work inside and get paid for it, and then I could drive a few more hours if I wanted to make some more money. It seems like a rapid rise to me, too, and pretty silly of them. I'm like Andy Garcia's character in Godfather III.

I bet they wouldn't think of me as manager material if they knew what happened on Thursday. I pulled off what has definitely been my most massive boner yet. I picked up an attractive woman in her early thirties at some apartment building in Georgetown and took her a really bad route to National Airport. She was furious. Really really angry. But once you start going somewhere in Georgetown, you're kinda we just kept going the way she hated. She said "Oh God I'm gonna miss my flight!" and then I offered her a free ride and we sat in silence for the rest of the 20 minute ride (woulda been about 12 minutes if I had gone the right way....). I spent most of the trip admiring the scenery to the left side of the car so that I didn't have to look anywhere close to her direction. I was dreading what I knew had to do when we got to National - ask her which airline I should drop her at. She said "United - not like it matters now." I nodded and stayed silent. "Do you EVER drive in DC?" she asked in an agitated voice. "Fairly often, actually," I tersely responded. And then, finally, I dropped her off at United. She paid (and tipped, actually - probably so that she didn't have to wait for me to pull out change) and ran out of the cab before I could give her back her money. I mean, it's great to get paid for bad work performance, especially because my mistake made it more expensive, but I wish I could have that one back.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

famous passenger

Well, sorta. Yesterday I picked up General Petraeus's wife, which is about as close as I've come to someone famous. She was a nice lady, although maybe a little too quick to mention her famous husband. It's kinda hard to naturally work that into a conversation, and she didn't make much effort at it. I don't mind though - I'm happier knowing, right?

Also, I took a guy for the second time in a week. He's a young, sharply dressed west African guy who speaks with that cool African-French accent. What is really amazing about him is that he speaks five languages, his native dialect, French, English, Spanish and Russian. I heard him talking on the phone to someone and he was switching in and out of four of those, sometimes in the same sentence. I couldn't understand the parts in French or his dialect, but he would say things like "Well of course he gave you that, es lo que hace con todo el mundo." Crazy, and really impressive.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

i hate taking kids to school

This morning I was busy as hell but couldn't make any money. I sat through outlandishly bad traffic, a five minute red light at S Four Mile Run and Columbia Pike (can you believe that? I'm serious - FIVE minutes!) and an accident that closed two lanes on Rt. 50. Those were each to go pick people up, and they each turned out to be kids going to school. School trips are really bad. They are always pretty short rides, and kids never tip - one girl gave me a credit card for $6.75 and made it $7.00 even, and one of them was on a voucher from Arlington Co., which doesn't allow passengers to tip.

Anyway, that's just a little bit of whining, thanks for indulging me. It's really not so bad - yesterday I had a quick, solid morning and then went to the Nats game at 12:35, which isn't the worst way to spend a day.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Because 55's license plate has clearly been flagged by all DC traffic cops, I switched it up this morning and grabbed cab #158. It's a little newer (about 150,000 miles newer) and is clearly in much better shape....but I miss ol' 55.

Had my first crazy lady this morning who refused to pay the full fare because she thought I was screwing her on the meter. That got pretty unpleasant - fare was 17.95 and she paid me 15, and there were some strong words exchanged. Oh well, what's three dollars, right?

Friday, May 1, 2009


I was picking up at a grocery store yesterday afternoon, which usually means an old woman, a half-mile trip and about $4.50 for me. I don't mind - I'm just saying that I spend most of those trips looking forward to the next one. Well, I picked up a young guy, mid-30s or so, who was on the phone and hollers at me when he gets in "MVC." I thought I had heard him right - MVC Late Night Video is a porn shop, and they have a couple different locations in the area. I asked him which one he wanted, and he said "Man, I don't care, any of them, I'm not from around here." Well, I'm no expert on MVC late night videos or anything, but I can tell you that anyone who used to be a 13-year-old boy in the Bailey's Crossroads area knows EXACTLY where that MVC is (well, 13-year-olds in the pre-internet era, anyway. Maybe things are different nowadays). I took him right over, and then waited outside for him (and watched some very nervous fellows walk in while I was idling outside) and then took him back. Needless to say, he and I shared a lot in common, it was a good long trip and he tipped great.

Two fares later was a guy going from Crystal City out to Herndon, which is a huge fare. That was all fine and good, except that he spent the whole (long) time trying to convince me to join the Marines, which is really just an awkward conversation if the cab driver isn't interested.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

odd payment

I took a guy to National Airport yesterday evening. He was a little strange in the car - nothing too huge, but it seemed like he was breathing uncomfortably. Maybe he was afraid of flying or something? Well, the fare came out to $14.75 on the meter. Dude handed me a twenty, two fives, a one, and then counted out exactly 45 cents. $31.45 on $14.75! I mean, don't get me wrong, I was delighted - but what the hell was he thinking?

I also had the honor of being the last civilian a dude saw before he shipped off to Afghanistan. He was incredibly calm and collected; he said it was his third or fourth time going over. Nice guy, and great fare, we went up to Ellicott City in Maryland, which came out to $81 on the meter.

Monday, April 27, 2009

help reid out

Reid is feeling a little sad today. Help him out - he really has had some great adventures in Colombia, and he uses a lot more graphics in his, for those of you who prefer picture books.

cabbie>sandwich artist

I worked at Subway for three semesters in college, and if you ask any one of my friends who ever ate a sandwich that I made you'd know that I was awful. I'd get distracted because I was so happy to see a friend that I consistently chose the wrong bread, put on the wrong kinds or amounts of meats, and misapplied toppings. I gave such steep discounts on sandwiches that I didn't get too many complaints to my face, but I'm sure that I really annoyed some people.

Well, I'm a much better cab driver than I was a sandwich artist. I take buddies around all the time now, and I don't think I've screwed up once (except one time when I took Jimmy and Brink a little bit loopier of a way around some of the one-ways around Midtown, but that wasn't too bad). Some of that has to do with being paid per ride instead of my hourly sandwich rate. But I think most of the difference is that a meatball sub on parmesan oregano bread is essentially pretty close to a meatball sub on Italian herb and cheese bread, while a cab ride from Clarendon to Adams Morgan is a lot different than a ride from Clarendon to National Airport.

On another note, protests are really annoying. I was supposed to take a guy to GW Hospital this morning, but they closed down 23rd St, which really screwed up how we were gonna go. But then he said we could just go up near Dupont Circle, so we avoided all the hubbub. I have no idea how he decided that Dupont Circle was an acceptable alternative to the GW Hospital (it's a thirty-five minute walk away), but I don't get paid to question the man.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

leesburg is far!

I took a young woman from her law firm in Georgetown yesterday out to friggin' Leesburg, VA! Then I took her back. If you'd like me to do the math for you, that's $167 on the meter, a sizable tip, and done in exactly 2 hours. I'm basically paid up for the rest of the week, so all the money I make now is gravy for Foxfield this weekend. Totally sweet.

This morning I took a woman from near the Nats Stadium to her work in Ballston. It's the second time I've gotten her in the past few weeks, and so we had a nice chat. Well, mostly nice, but really boring. She lives by herself, and was able to successfully change the subject to her cats three times during our ten minute trip.
1) I rolled down the window, and she asked if it was because of her perfume, which she has to wear a lot of because her cats piss all over her house.
2) I commented that it was such a nice day. She said she didn't like nice weather like we have today and we had last weekend because it reminds her of the day one of her cats died.
3) I told her that I had a good weekend because I saw a lot of her family. She said that her daughter won't visit because of all of her cats. Her son-in-law claims that he's allergic, but she KNOWS that he was living with her daughter's cat and dog, but that was just "when he was trying to get married."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

verbal tip or no tip?

Can't decide what's worse - a verbal tip ("you're personable, I bet you get great tips" followed by "you can keep the nickel" on a 7.95 fare) or someone giving me a 5, a dime, and a quarter for a 5.35 fare. It's a really tough call, actually.

Had a nice little ride with Dunny again this morning. He was supposed to come in last night on a flight from Atlanta but had some sob story about getting hosed by Delta. Secretly, I was delighted that he came in this morning, because I was really tired last night.

Monday, April 20, 2009

quote from hannah

This is why I like my job, put succinctly by Hannah.

Hannah: your job is ideal... make a connection with a person, brighten his day, and then send him along, never to be seen again

I get to do that all day long. And if it doesn't work, I still don't have to see them ever again!

Friday, April 17, 2009

smoooooth morning

I crushed it this morning. Started off with a nice Dulles run with Dunny, where we had about as delightful a conversation as 4:30 am allows (if it's morning - we've had great conversations at 4:30 when we've been hammered, natch, but that's not really fair). Then, even with some rough no-shows and getting screwed over a little bit, I had a slam-bang efficient 5.5 hours.

On the way back from Dulles I picked up a very nice family around Arlington Hospital and took them to National. Minor boner by me - she asked if I could do change for a hundred, I looked through the cash that Dunny had given me (thanks Dunn!) and realized that I could. Then when we got there, she asked that it be $26 total, so I gave her $76 back. Turns out I'm bad at subtraction.

Then I went to pick up at a local elderly nursing home to take a passenger to the hospital. They took a while getting the passenger ready (fifteen minutes or so), which is unpleasant, but I feel good when I help out sick or injured patients. Not to mention that Red Top gets a lot of business out of moving patients from location to location, so it's well worth our time to wait for them. What sucks though is that they were wheeling the patient out to me when the nurse slapped his forehead because he needed - you guessed it - a wheelchair accessible vehicle. So I called our dispatcher to get a different vehicle down and had to take off.

Then my next call was at the Doubletree Hotel....but I've never actually picked anyone up from there successfully. There are always so many cabs there that by the time I make it, the people are always gone, and this morning was no different.

So, anyway, after dropping off Dunny, I had exactly one (underpaid) fare between 4:50 am and 6:45 am - and still made some good money by 10:30 when I stopped. Not bad! Now it's Friday, and I'm gonna nap and then hit it hard tonight, so give me a call if you're out and about and need a ride.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

couldn't sleep

This morning I woke up at around 3:15 am from a bad dream (really terrible! so scary that there's no WAY I put the details in the blog). I rolled around for the next fifteen minutes or so trying to sleep more....but then I just got up and put on a pot of coffee. I was in my cab by 3:50 and I gotta tell you, it's nice to have 8 hours of work in before noon. Whenever you suckers can't fall back asleep early in the morning, it's just wasted time, but I get to make money. Not too shabby.

I almost had my first trip to Baltimore today. My last fare of the morning was a couple latin men dressed up in drag with suitcases on their way to Union Station to go to Baltimore. One of them (the better looking one...?) had a sequined t-shirt that emphasized his/her "Apple Bottom" and the other was wearing a shirt that showed off a lot of cleavage. I don't really get how that happens, actually, but it was there. Anyway, I think they liked that I speak Spanish, and so as we got onto 395 toward the 14th St Bridge, they asked me how much it would cost them to go all the way to Baltimore. I really really wish I had said 100 or 120 instead of 140 or 120, because they lost interest at the 140. Coulda had a great trip! I didn't really sell it, what a moron.

Also, whoever had money on Emily Moffett being my first completely random passenger that I actually know, you're a big winner. I think it freaked her out to see me driving.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Since I am an egotist and I love giving directions, being a cab driver is great. People roll down their windows to ask how to get somewhere all the time.

Places I have given other drivers directions to in the last few weeks:
From 9th and Penn to the 1100 block of Penn.
From the middle lane of Independence eastbound at 15th St to 395 South.
From 1500 Arlington Blvd to the Rosslyn Metro.
From the Key Bridge to the entrance ramp of the Whitehurst Freeway.

Unsuccessful attempt at giving directions in the last few weeks:
From Northbound Washington Blvd at Pershing to Rt. 123. Or maybe he wanted 123 up to McLean? Coulda been that he wanted it down to Burke. But it is really unlikely he was going down to Occoquan.

Look, it's hard to give directions to 123 from Washington Blvd and Pershing, ok? Give me a break.

Monday, April 13, 2009

baseball games

I love my cabbie schedule because I can take off whenever I feel like it. Last Thursday, the Danner and Anya and I went to Baltimore for an afternoon game (thanks Ned!) and today my brothers and my dad and I are going to the Nats Opening Day game. Well, it's opening day if we discount the 0-6 start so far.

Also, I worked both weekend nights - made a ton on Friday, less than a ton on Saturday. DID get a bag of pretzels on Saturday night though. I took a group of young ladies from Pentagon City into a club around McPherson Sq. They had been drinking a little beforehand and were a little silly, and we were all we getting along great. When we pulled up to the curb next to the club, the loudest girl in the backseat leaned forward and asked me if she could leave her pretzels with me. Her friends laughed and said that I wasn't going to be her cab driver on the way back, and she was really weird for leaving them with me.
Pretzel Girl: What's weird about having pretzels, I didn't eat anything all day and I don't want them to take up room in my purse.
Other girl: It's not weird to have pretzels, it's weird to leave them with your cab driver.

They appealed to me for a verdict.
Me: Yeah. That's pretty weird.

Goat of the weekend: The girl who had me take her from Ballston to a club in Suitland, MD. Meter read 37.95, and she gave me 38 singles. Hero of the weekend: my cab ride with E, which was hilarious and well-paid. Thanks boss!

Friday, April 10, 2009

slow week

So, the weather is pretty nice and Congress is out of session, which means things are slow for Red Top this week. REALLY slow. I'll sit in my cab for forty minutes without a call. Considering that my average fare+tip comes out to around 12 or $13, and I need to pull in about $25 per hour to be having close to a decent day, you can see where getting about 12 or $13 in forty minutes is a serious problem. As of right now, I'm about breaking even for the week. That's better than losing money....but not nearly as good as making money.

In bad times, you've gotta make money on your own. So yesterday morning I (after waiting for a half hour) got a call in Pentagon City and picked her up. I had the windows open and was listening to NPR. She was a fairly oldish woman, late 60s or so, and immediately asked me to turn down the radio because "kids these days are going to burn out their ears!" (remember - it was NPR that I was blasting). Then she told me she was going to 901 New York Ave NW. As you can tell from this map, her address (point B) is very close to Mount Vernon Square (point A). I asked her, "Oh, that's right at Mount Vernon Square, right?" She snapped back that she didn't know if it was or not, and I said that Mount Vernon Square is right where Massachusetts and New York intersect, and she said that it wasn't there, it was many blocks down New York closer to Pennsylvania. Well, lucky for her, I already knew she was wrong, so I didn't bother arguing, and she and I then had a really nice conversation the rest of the way, despite her being really annoying to start. Turns out she's going to Norway on Wednesday and we set up my giving her a ride*. And then I dropped her off at 901 New York Ave NW, right next to Mount Vernon Square. Gotta make your own business!

* that's a ride to Dulles airport, not to Norway.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

this blog isn't supposed to be only about foreigners...

...but a couple days ago, I committed another boner. This time it was a young Belgian woman who was asking me for advice on whether she should move to DC or to New York from her current home in Chicago. It seemed like her biggest priorities were working in international affairs and cultural activities in the city (plays, symphonies, museums). So I gave her some advice (sorta), then asked how she liked Chicago in those respects. She likes Chicago, and I told her that it's a pretty great spot, and then I have to confess, I took the opportunity to make a gratuitous dig at the rest of the midwest, Iowa specifically. How the HELL was I supposed to know she went to Drake University in Des Moines (from Belgium!?), played tennis there, met and married her husband there, and lived there for five years?

Monday, April 6, 2009

lost brazilian

I was having a pretty good Friday night when I took a guy back to a hotel in Crystal City at around 1:45 am. Before he even got out of the cab, another guy jumped into my front seat, begging me in broken, hammered English to help him out. He told me that he was out that night and had left his suit jacket somewhere, and it had his cell phone and, more importantly, his passport, because he had a 5 pm flight the next day. Here's the problem - homey had no idea where he had been that night. He knew that they had gone to dinner in Crystal City, and then they went to a club in DC. It sounded like we were gonna be the plot of a buddy movie - language barrier, impossible task, possibility for adventures....and then we're friends!

I asked him where they ate, and he said "It was a place where buffalo." What does that mean? "You can eat buffalo, it has buffalo. Buffon [that must be buffalo in Portuguese]." So we drove around Crystal City until it hit me - he had been at Ted's Montana Grill (check out the logo at the top left). We went and knocked on the glass until the people cleaning up came out. They searched around but didn't find it. That was a strikeout.

I asked him where he had been in DC. He had no idea, and the poor guy was practically crying. He begged me to take him to clubs in DC where people would go.
"It was club. There were girls dancing."
Was it a strip club?
"No no no, not strip. It was club, it was disco."
OK, where was it?
"I don't know. You have to help me! I have wife, she's pregnant."
I'm helping you buddy, who were you out with, do they know the club?
"I don't know them, I was just here for conference. OK you have to help, if people are in Crystal City, where do they go in Washington DC?"
Well....I mean, there are hundreds of bars and clubs in DC. A person could go anywhere. Can you remember the neighborhood?
"No, I don't remember. Oh....why am I so DUMB!? What did I do, God?"
Was it Georgetown? Dupont Circle? Midtown? U Street? Chinatown?
"Could be Chinatown, maybe it was Chinatown, yeah."
OK, let's try that.

We drove up to Chinatown and meandered around, seeing if he could recognize the bar or club. First one we drove past on 6th St he didn't recognize so we went to some other place on F in between 9th and 10th. He thought he might recognize it....he got out and sorta wandered around the entrance until he came back and with a hang-dog look said "That wasn't it. What other clubs are there in DC?" We went to Midtown, where there are some clubs on Connecticut and some other bars where girls might have been dancing. He got out around Lucky Bar and roamed around for a couple minutes, and when he got back in, I made the point for the third time that not only would he have to recognize the bar, but he'd have to actually go in and find his jacket. There was no way that his jacket would have made it to a lost and found yet - there were still lines for people to get in, the clubs were still open. So he finally gave up, and I wrote him out a list of things he should do first thing in the morning - 1) Call the Brazilian Embassy, 2) Call your wife, 3) Find the other guys you went clubbing with, 4) Call Ted's Montana Grill to see if they'd somehow found his stuff.

Well, as you can guess, we never found his stuff. I finally convinced him to let me drive him back to the hotel before we spent all night doing a hopeless task with the meter running. I wonder if he made it back home.

Friday, April 3, 2009

best fare

I just had my best passenger of my two months with Red Top. Picked her up in Rosslyn, took her up to Gaithersburg (have you ever been to Gaithersburg? it takes FOREVER), got lost a little, dropped her off. Total time was one hour, meter read 69.55, she paid me 90. Not bad!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

law school advice

I drove tonight, and picked up a couple interesting fares. My first fare was an enormously fat guy that I picked up at a bar near Columbia Pike and Walter Reed. He actually had a tough time getting in the cab; I had to move the front passenger seat forward so he could squeeze in, and he was really drunk and out of breath until we got to the Burger King. I ordered for him (sometimes passengers scoot over to behind me so they can order, but this guy wasn't doing much scooting) - a #2 large (that's a double whopper) with a coke, 2 junior whoppers, and 12 chicken fries, which are like small chicken tenders or something, I guess. Anyway, $14.91 is a hell of a lot of food at Burger King. I had to help him out of the cab when we got to his place. Then he grabbed my hand to shake it and said, "A white cab driver!" I responded that I know I'm not common, and he said "I don't get it. But I love it!" It was a gross and uncomfortable encounter all around.

My last fare of the night was an awesomely drunk guy from a hole-in-the-wall bar in Clarendon (I didn't know those existed). We got to talking and he asked if this is all I do, and I mentioned law school, so he gave me some sage advice.
Jay: Look, man, when you go and do thing, keep doing YOUR thing. Keep doing what you do [did he mean driving a cab? or just "being me"?]. And...get a real estate license.
Me:Real estate, huh? That's a good idea, that way I can be a one-stop shop, right?
Jay: Yeah, one stop, and....also, you should....get to know people. Get to know an athletic trainer, or BE an athletic trainer, that way you can meet people, you know NBA or NFL players or whatever. Like, my cousin....he used to train Chris Samuels.
Me: Hey man, thanks a lot for the advice!

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Boner

In honor of this terrific Batman comic, I wanted to mention a small boner I had the other day. Really, one of the smaller boners I've had. I picked up a young lady on Saturday morning. She was going from S Scott and Columbia Pike to N Quincy. The obvious move is left on Columbia Pike, right on Glebe, right on Quincy and BAM we're there. Well, she was cute, so I immediately committed a boner and tried to impress her with a cooler route (R on Columbia Pike, 27 North, L on N 10th, L on Wilson, R on Quincy). I have to say - my boner was probably so small that she didn't even notice, but I was embarrassed by it anyway. We went about a half mile and a minute or two longer than we should have. What a boner!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

people honk at me

People honk at me all the TIME now. I love it - there's nothing funnier than somebody honking at me while I'm dropping off a passenger or picking someone up. Do they really think it's gonna change what I do? I gotta make mine! Used to be back when I was a regular citizen and someone would honk at me, I'd get nervous and jumpy and flustered. Now I just laugh my ass off and hope that they see me laughing.

I picked up a guy at the airport yesterday who started a company that does online booking and cell phone payments for cabs, which then go immediately into your expense account. Needless to say, we had a great talk about lots of stuff, but most important was that they try all their new products with Red Top because he says they are the best run cab company in the country. Looks like I lucked out getting into Red Top.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

good news about potholes

They finally filled in the potholes on the far right lane of N Lynn heading over to the Key Bridge. I drive in that lane several times every day - every time I use the Key Bridge to go to Georgetown or to use the K St Expressway. I've been trying to figure out how to avoid each pothole, and I'm pretty sure it's impossible. But I went away for a week and they fixed it! Terrific news.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

tonight's heroes

Greenie and I finally got back late tonight from Las Vegas after we got paid by the airline to extend our trip for a couple days. Brian was the first hero of the night - I got into my cab and the battery was dead. I had turned off the lights and whatnot while I was gone, but I hadn't thought about how my dispatch computer of course draws from the battery, too. Since I didn't turn that off, it killed my battery. Greenie's pretty good with jumper cables, and five minutes later I was on my way.

About a mile down the road, I realized that I had a flat tire, too. I am no expert with cars by any means, but I actually can change a flat tire (I learned after I got a flat on the way to pick a girl up for a date my senior year of high school and had to have her come pick me up....that was pretty embarrassing). I swear that the jack Red Top has in my trunk does not work though - the little lever-wrench thing actually doesn't fit, so the jack wouldn't rise. My brother Andrew is hero #2 - he drove all the way out to help me with a new jack and a flashlight. Turns out his jack didn't work either, but just then a cop came by and helped us out, and Andrew did all the work and changed my tire. Thanks!

Anyway, that was a great way to be greeted by DC, and I'm back driving again tomorrow morning(after Red Top gives me a new spare tire and checks my battery). And really, if you're gonna get a flat and have a dead battery, might as well just ruin one night with it, right?

Monday, March 23, 2009

excitement wednesday morning

Anyone wanna take a ride with me up to North Arlington on Wednesday morning? I just got this email.

Good evening,

Please see message below received on the "Training Exercise with Large Simulated Explosion Planned for Key Bridge Area".

For the filming of a TV pilot, there will be a simulated explosion on Wednesday, March 25 between 9:30 a.m. and noon near Key Bridge in the District. The explosion will produce a 20 to 30′ fireball that will last for approximately 2 minutes.

Please pass along this information to others appropriate. The Department of Homeland Security and D.C. Police and Fire departments have been notified, along with the Washington Airports Authority. The Virginia State Patrol and Arlington Police Department will be contacted. If you have additional questions, contact Kathy Hollinger or Burt Warner with the DC Film Office at 202-727-6608.

The explosion will take place on the Potomac River just north of the Key Bridge and Jack’s Boathouse (K / Water Street, NW under the Whitehurst Freeway). In the scene to be filmed, there will be six (6) sculling boats on the Potomac River and one of them blows up.

CBS Paramount television is filming a pilot titled “Washington Field.” This is a new television series about the elite Washington field office of the FBI and a team of agents with exceptional and diverse skills who are called together for only the most critical cases.

Thank You. Have a nice evening,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

quick dispatch from las vegas

Obviously, cab drivers in Vegas have better stories than I do.

First: Guy we had yesterday morning said that the craziest thing that ever happened in his cab was two gorgeous European models got in his cab and told him just to drive up and down the strip. They were high on ecstasy, and then they started [hooking up] in the back seat while he drove up and down. That has NEVER happened in my cab!

Second: One of Brian's cab drivers yesterday is the actual guy from Taxicab Confessions. He's got some great stories, too, and luckily, you can watch them on TV. Entire season box sets are reasonably priced.

Monday, March 16, 2009

big downer this morning

I had to be at Red Top at 5:30 this morning to guarantee that I got a cab to drive around (I was able to get Red Top #55 back - totally sweet). I had to take all my junk out of the cab because someone else was driving it this weekend, which creeps me out a little bit, to be honest. Getting in this morning it was like someone had slept in my bed or something (someone besides Corey or Pat, of course). I crashed at Greenie's place last night right when I got back from the airport so that I could walk over to Red Top from his place.

The big downer was that when I was racing around to pack up all my stuff on Friday morning, I didn't think to take a map with me out to Colorado, so I didn't have it in the cab with me this morning. No big deal, I pretty much know all the streets by now and I even got a couple compliments last week about how well I know the roads without using a GPS. Well, you can see where this is going - my second fare of the morning took me out to some obscure address in Fairfax city that he had never been to and didn't know the way. I called up our dispatcher to ask for directions, and he was able to get me out there....but really, considering the dude has maps right in front of his face and presumably used to be a cab driver, his directions were laughably bad. Combine my being tired from 4 hours of sleep last night, pissed off at myself for being a cab driver and not having a damn map in my cab, and angry at this dispatcher for not being able to look at a map and notice that the street I was trying to find loops around and hits Jermantown Rd twice.....I was an unhappy little boy. Anyway, the guy asked "does the tip go to you or to the dispatcher?" and then tipped me nicely, so I guess I can't stay angry.

But actually, it's good to be back driving again! I wonder if I'll miss it as much when I stop this summer as I did this past weekend.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

going on vacation!

I'm leaving tomorrow for an unpaid (to put it mildly) vacation, my cousin's wedding in Colorado. I'll be back for a couple days next week, then it's off to Las Vegas. I won't have too many cab-related stories during my vacations, natch.

One quick note: earlier this week, I took a woman from Crystal City up to the OEOB right next to the White House. Except I didn't really take her there, because 18th St was completely blocked off. It was impossible to cross the E St corridor there, so I had to let her off a couple blocks away. That is basically an admission of defeat, and a serious blow to my pride, which I didn't like at all. The reason? Friggin' Angelina Jolie was shooting some movie. Wouldn't you think that basically any other time would be better than 9 am on a Monday morning? And anyone who knows me knows how much I HAAAAATE Angelina for what she did to Jen. Ugh.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

totally sweet wednesday morning

I'm pretty tired right now, but I just had a great morning. I got in from driving last night around 11:45 and woke up this morning at 2:55 am to go get a friend in Woodbridge and take her to National. I immediately followed that with a trip from Crystal City to Dulles (wooooo!), then got a guy on my way back and took him to near the White House, then picked up a woman from Georgetown and drove her back to Rosslyn. If you're keeping track (no worries if you're not - I am), that was a hugely efficient morning. Now I'm gonna sleep it off.

By the way, the lady I picked up in Georgetown was the same lady that I picked up last week that smelled like lady gym sweat. I took her to work, and I can report that she smelled delightful this morning, so it's good to know that it was probably just because of working out last week, not a constant thing.

There's something noble about taking pride in your work, I think. I stopped at a 7-11 at around 3:55 this morning to get another cup of coffee (I was really really tired). I went to go pay, and he asked if I had a minute, which I did. He told me to dump out that coffee because it had been sitting around for a while, and they were about to finish brewing a new pot, and I'd like it better. What a sweetheart! I mean, it was 7-11 coffee, so it still kinda sucked, but it takes real pride to be that friendly to a customer at 4 am.

Monday, March 9, 2009

bag lady

I really did not mean for this blog to be about odors in my cab, but it turns out I wrote that one post a little too early. On Saturday morning, I went to go pick up a lady at a nursing home, and she was a bag lady. You know, big bags of random stuff, a little cart to carry them, and a cane, all of which I dutifully loaded in the trunk. She was heavily made up, but not like the drag queen; more like a person who has no idea how much make up she is putting on. Then I took her to the Safeway around the corner.

I feel kinda bad saying this, but she reeked of, well, piss. I definitely opened the windows immediately and practically stuck my head out. Nothing a little febreeze couldn't take care of afterwards, though! She was perfectly pleasant - we talked about how nice the weather was, she mentioned that she usually walks, but not that day for whatever reason. I guess I don't understand the bag lady economy particularly well, but since when do bag ladies take cabs? And why would she bother bringing all of her stuff with her to the supermarket?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

drag queen

I picked up a guy dressed in heavy heavy make up and some sort of weird pirate-looking bandana-wig get up last night. She had a very deep voice, but actually did appear pretty feminine, and then she asked to go to 17th St in DC. I asked where on 17th, and she said "Oh anywhere, I'll find my way from there," which really kicked in my chivalrous, classy side, before I remembered that she was actually a dude. But she was slender - I wonder what the rules are on that? I wouldn't drop off a young woman just somewhere on a street in DC to let her "find her way" somewhere, but does a slender, feminine drag queen count as a guy or a lady? I ended up dropping her off at Nelly's at 9th and U, so I felt good about that. On her way out, though, I goofed up and said "Have a good time man!" Is that acceptable, or should I have just stayed gender neutral? Tough calls.

Friday, March 6, 2009

pretty good morning

A strong morning like today's sets me up well for a great Friday night. I'm excited. I didn't have that many fares, but they were all long ones, so I got PAID. Only bad part so far - the GOP lobbyist guy who made up a story about how he was jogging along the Potomac in the '90s and saw Vice President Gore running and so he introduced himself and then ran with him for three or four miles. There's no way he was able to do that. Why would he bother telling his damn cab driver such a dumb story?

I'll report back tonight or tomorrow about any Friday hijinks (by the way, hijink is the only word in the English language that has three dotted letters in a row).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

passenger smells

I get a glimpse of my passengers when they get in the cab, and occasionally I'll turn around if we're having a conversation, but for the most part the sense that really sticks out is their smell. I had some good ones today.

I picked up a couple Japanese guys at a golf shop in Shirlington and took them to their fancy hotel near the White House, and one of the dudes (the one who was doing most of the talking, unfortunately) had gross breath. Really gross; I had to cover up my nose without making it obvious. I picked up a young woman from an office building in Rosslyn that clearly has its own gym, which she had used, and she stank pretty badly. You know, like lady gym sweat. And finally, I picked up a guy who talked exactly like Ali G and reeked of weed. What a night!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

snowstorm, reston trip

Snowstorms are actually pretty scary for a cab driver. The more miles you drive, the more likely it is that an accident will happen, even in the best of conditions, and when things are slippery and gross and treacherous, it only gets worse. I drove for a couple hours yesterday morning during the heart of the storm, and then I had to go home once I started not being able to make it up some hills. The customers that I had in the morning were delightful though - they took a cab because they recognized how dangerous it was for themselves, and so they were all very understanding about how damn slowly I was driving.

This morning I took a woman from Cherrydale (Lee Hwy and Old Dominion) all the way out to Reston, which was a $40 fare. We were chatting, and then she had a phone call and mentioned it was a doctor's appointment, so rather than drive all the way back by myself, I waited and got a cup of coffee until she was done, then took her to work in Alexandria, a $60 fare. She tipped not at all, but it was still a great couple hours we spent together.

And, just to respond to the comments about the Friday night girls - they were actually pretty hot. And again, I'm a classy dude who doesn't like potential legal problems, which is why I didn't take them up on it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

funny friday night girls

At 2:50 am Saturday morning, I picked up a girl (let's call her Madison) outside Hard Times Cafe right by the Clarendon Metro, and sat there waiting for a few minutes for her roommate (how about....Steph) to come out of Hard Times.
"Can we wait just a few minutes? She's in there talking to this REALLY CREEPY GUY! UGGGHHHH. He was so CREEPY!"

I turned on the meter, so of course I had all day to wait, but she kept apologizing for it. That was sweet of her, since I was making money just sitting there. Finally Steph got in the cab and we started going.

Madison: You didn't give him your number did you!? He was gross!
Steph: I dunno maybe. [turns to me] Hey, you're American....and white, and kinda cute.
Madison: Yeah he's cute for a cab driver. [I don't think that was actually a compliment]
Steph: Hey, wanna come party with us in DC?
Me: DC, eh?
Steph: Yeah what are you doing? You should come party with us.
Me: I'll drive you to DC, sure, where do you wanna go? [DC trips make me money]
Steph: How about Adams Morgan?
Me: Well, you know the bars are closing, right, it's 2:50 am.
Steph: Oh God, it's late. Hey, do you wanna make out with us? We're roommates.....
Madison: UGHHH! When she's drunk she hits on EVERYONE!

Friday, February 27, 2009

slowest morning EVER

Starting to get worried about when the weather is this nice all the time in the spring. Tonight better be good or else I'm in rough shape. There's only so long I can sit with three or four other cabs at a stand waiting for a call and burning gas.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

red top's golden boy taken down a notch

I parked legally in DC last night on the west side of 16th St. During the morning rush hour, though, the west side of 16th St is a no-parking zone because it severely hampers rush hour traffic, which I had completely forgotten about. By the time I got to my cab around 7:30 this morning for a new day of driving, my cab had disappeared.

Getting your car from DC after it's towed is a pain in the ass, because you have to pay at Judiciary Square then go down to get it near the Anacostia metro, but it's even more annoying if it's a cab. I don't own my cab, I just rent it, so DC won't let me drive it off the lot without proof of my lease from the owner, Red Top. I had to metro over to Red Top World HQ in Clarendon, confess to my illegal parking, withstand some pretty nasty glares while they got me the paperwork, and then go back to do all the DC government stuff. And since it's a $100 ticket and a $100 towing fee, plus all the missed hours of driving....well, that's a real pisser.

BUT, it turns out that I didn't get towed all the way to the impound lot, because I had just gotten a "courtesy tow" from the DC government to a street a couple blocks away. They are so courteous! I still have to pay a $100 fine (sucks), but I got in my cab by 10:30 am, instead of much later, and I didn't have to pay a towing fee. And now I'll be driving all night to make up for it, so give me a call if you're out and need a ride.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

insane guy

So, yesterday afternoon around 4:45, I picked up by far the craziest and most vulgar dude I've had yet. It was his birthday, and he was already 8 beers deep, he claimed. He got in with a fairly cute girl (we'll call her Shannon), who I dropped off a couple blocks away at her restaurant in Ballston to go to work. Then I continued on with the guy (we'll call him Steve) all the way to Georgetown, so we had a nice time to chat. Keep in mind that everything Steve was saying here was FAR grosser and more vulgar than how I'm putting it*.

Turns out Steve really really wants to get with Shannon, but even though they hang out a lot, do "non-date dates" all the time, and she's got a "tight little body," and she's apparently all over him when they go out to bars, she's made it clear she isn't gonna get with him. Turns out, also, that Shannon will apparently hook up with everybody, just not Steve. In fact, she has known 7 Steves in her lifetime, and she's gotten with the other 6. Steve says he's spent over 2 thousand bucks wining and dining her over the past few months, he went to her lame-ass Super Bowl party instead of going to his buddy's party, which was a real shame because his buddy lives "in a mansion in Georgetown, well, not a mansion, but as BIG as a mansion," and he had ten strippers over for the Super Bowl party, and one of them did some NASTY stuff* and then showered with one of the guys (but they didn't just shower if you know what I mean), and one of the people at Shannon's lame-ass party was her lame sorta boyfriend, who is boring and not NEARLY as attractive as Steve, and Steve knows that the reason she won't hook up with him isn't his looks (because he knows she hooks up with the lame sorta boyfriend) and it isn't his personality (because she hooks up with all Steve's friends), it's just that he's been put in the "friend" category and he can't get out, even though she says she moved back to DC because Steve is here. And what really makes it rough is that (from his friends) Steve has heard that she's totally freaky* but he just can't get with her. As Steve got out of my cab at a bar in Georgetown, he told me to write down my full name so he could put me on the guest list at this club he was having his party at last night - there was a bus full of AU sorority girls coming down, "so you KNOW we're gonna see some titties!"


*this is where I've deleted some really gross stuff that Steve said

Monday, February 23, 2009

baby daddy

This morning I heard a very strange conversation between two young women. One of them was pregnant, and they had a young child in the car, although I didn't do much talking, so I don't know whose he was. It was about the pregnant woman's baby daddy, his other baby mommas, and things like that. Line of the conversation (please don't read this, Mom): "That bitch BEGGED to have his baby; he WANTED to [father a child] in me."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

saturday night

Solid Saturday night. I was really rolling until about 1:30, but it's amazing how a couple missteps can really kill the profitability. From 6 pm, when I started, until 1:30, I was pulling in $44 every hour, which is terrific. Of course, my profit is less than that, because I have to pay for the cab, but it means that I was playing everything right.

I dropped Kayleigh off at 1:30 at her place in DC (after a tremendously long fare and generous tip; thanks Kayleigh!) and I turned to go back to Arlington. Getting to Courthouse around 1:45 would have been great because that's when those bars empty out and there's money all up and down Wilson Blvd. I decided to post where I was anyway in the city, and I got a call up by Adams Morgan. I thought for a hot second and decided to take the call, which was stupid.

Generally, getting a fare to take you out of the city is great, because it means the meter just keeps on running and running. And this passenger was gonna go to Alexandria, which is a pretty big fare coming from Adams Morgan. But it's rarely smart to take a call from Adams Morgan, especially late on a weekend night, because that place is crawling with crabs. The caller probably called us as a backup while she went to go find another cab, which she surely did. Anyway, that wasted twenty to thirty minutes that I drove up there and waited. Balls! On a night when I'm making $44 per hour, losing half an hour really sucks. And it meant I didn't get back to VA until about 2:20 - too late to get the bar closing traffic. What a dummy. I got a couple more fares, but they were little guys.

My favorite fares of the night were this one mid-forties couple that I took to a party down by Fort Hunt, which ran about $19 going there and $17 coming back (more traffic on the way down there). It's nice to get a call back, because it means they like me and that kind of business will keep me moving during the slow times. And, while taking time out of my night to go pick them up can sometimes slow down my income, the guy tipped great on the way down and I figured he might tip on the way back, too. ALSO, the real reason I liked this couple is because they were hilarious - he was the sweetest, most agreeable guy, and she was vicious to him! She thought he told me to take a wrong turn on the way down and just laid into him, which put me in the delightful position of cab driver/marriage counselor ("Oh! This way will work, too," or "We'll find it no problem," etc.) I wonder if they were like that with each other before they got married, because that guy clearly takes a lot of verbal abuse. Anyway, they were absolutely hammered when I picked them up later around 11:30, and homey gave me $40 for a $17 fare. Nice!

Example of how hammered they were:
Woman: "We should have a party. But this was TOO FAR. We should rent out the SPORTS PUB, make them come up too OUR area. That will be fun.
Man: "You know, that's......(silence for a minute).....wait, what did you say?"
Woman: (Not listening anymore, no answer)
Me: (giggle)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Using Spanish

One of the great things about driving the cab is that I've been able to use my Spanish a lot more than I have in the past few years. It's usually pretty simple stuff - I ask where we're going, then answer their questions about how someone so white speaks Spanish. But I gotta tell you, it's a great way to start making conversation and creating the connection between passenger and driver. Luckily, the trips are usually short enough so I'm not exposed for not being a perfectly fluent (to put it mildly) speaker.

I picked up a guy today who worked in all 8 years of the Clinton White House and actually started working on the campaign in Little Rock in mid-1989! A Clinton lifer in my cab, pretty cool. He took down my number because he said we should keep in touch. I have no idea what that means, but my guess is that it probably means he'll just call for cab rides.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Brits say the cutest things

I picked up a group of four Brits last night, and I realized that a Brit can say anything they want and it comes out adorable. They got into my cab while the guy who sat bitch was in the middle of a story. The first thing he said was "so she came up to my room, sat on my bed, and I reached down for a rummage." I'm pretty sure I know what that means, and it's a fairly gross thing to say around someone he didn't know....but it just sounds so adorable coming from a Brit! Then another guy talked about when he was on a cruise and somehow was able to find a view to see where "all the ladies were taking off their knickers."

I also took a guy up to a birthday party at Camelot, so I gave him his change in singles.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tipping guide

I've gotten a lot of questions from people about the appropriate amount to tip a cab driver. As a public service, I'll explain it here (from a cab driver's perspective, natch, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt).

My rules would be if the fare is under $6 and on the low end of the dollar, you're pretty much fine with completing the full dollar ($4.35, you can leave $5). If you're at the high end of the dollar, you should probably leave one extra full dollar ($4.75, leave $6). Once you get over $6, leaving $7 would be ok.....but probably better to leave $8.

After those low dollar amounts, the general rule would be to leave between 15% and 25% or so, like at a restaurant. And if it's a lot easier to leave a teensy bit under 15%, then that's ok (on $8.75, you can leave a $10, which is only 14.3%). We cab drivers generally do tend to have a lot of singles on us, though, so if you really do want to leave $11, we can get you four ones with out any trouble. (an aside: please - large bills can really be a pain in the ass. Last Saturday night, I took a guy from Shirlington to Georgetown, an $18.45 fare. He handed me a $100 bill and told me to keep $22, which is a perfectly good tip. But coming up with $78 in change isn't THAT easy, and it meant that after he left I had to go back to my apartment to get more cash so I could make change for future customers. That wasted a half hour of my time, which comes out to about $20 because it was a weekend night. That really sucked. I'm happy to make change, but I'm not a bank.)

Red Top takes 6% juice on credit cards and on vouchers, if your business happens to use those. So if a fare runs $15.95, and you leave $20, that is usually a very generous 25% tip. But if you use your card, the driver actually only keeps $18.80 of that - it's still a perfectly fine tip (17.6%), but it's not as generous as you thought you were being. There have definitely been a couple times where I've come away with less than the fare or just gotten a tiny tip because of the 6% juice. That Bethesda trip a couple nights ago for example - it was 21.95 on the meter, and he gave me 23.95 on the voucher slip. It was already only a 9.1% tip, but after the juice, I took home $22.51, which is a $0.56 tip (2.6%).

A couple last things to mention - there really are a lot of people that over-tip, so if you happen to only have enough cash on you for a 12% tip or something like that, it's no big deal. A driver's time is usually far more valuable, especially if it's a weekend night, than the coins you gather up to make sure you hit 15% instead of 13%.

And finally, and most importantly, a tip is actually a TIP. This whole post assumes that your driver was pleasant, efficient, and safe. If you aren't satisfied with the service, you have no obligation to tip at all, and you truly never have an obligation to tip as long as you can pay the full fare. But for the sake of karma.....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Expensive nails

I forgot to mention the one fare I had on Sunday. I was on my way back to my apartment in the morning and I figured I'd just see if I could get one ride in, so I signed into our system and immediately got a call. I went to pick her up at an apartment sorta near the Pentagon. She wanted to go to Rockville, which really was a little too far for what I wanted from the morning, but since it was gonna be a pricey fare, I figured I should do it. Turns out I don't really know anything about Rockville, but I think I was able to play it off fairly well, and I actually made it a pretty quick trip. That was good, because while we were driving up, she called her nail salon to ask if they could push back her appointment. She paid $45 for that cab ride to Rockville to get her nails done, and was going to pay another $45 to get home! Who the hell budgets $90 for transportation costs to get their nails done?

Last night, I took Kevin Love's uncle over into Georgetown to see him, because the T-Wolves are in town tonight. He was a nice guy, tipped great, and we had a good chat.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Off Day

I took yesterday, the Lord's Day, off. It was a tiring couple nights, so I feel like I earned it. Since I don't have any new cab stories, I thought I'd just mention that it turns out I don't let just cute girls smoke in my cab. On Wednesday night, I took a couple about 10 blocks from their house to a restaurant and I let the guy - a large, ugly bearded man with nasty long curly hair - smoke. So I guess it's pretty much open season on smoking in cab #55.

Also, thanks to all of my buddies who have been calling me to get rides - it makes the evenings go by a lot quicker when I can hang out with friends along the way.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

strong weekend

This has been a solid weekend - Friday night was spectacular, and tonight was fairly successful. I drove from about 3:45 pm Friday until 3:45 am Saturday, with only a quick dinner break in there, and I made a ton of money. One of those nights where everything is clicking - one fare led right to the next, I was taking efficient routes, customers enjoyed our trips so much that they called me to give them return trips, etc. Couldn't have been much better.

I thought tonight would be just as good. It's a Saturday night, which I wouldn't think would be any different than a Friday, plus all those couples who don't usually go out on weekends would be getting dinner. And if they're going into Georgetown where parking is a bitch, or planning on splurging on a bottle of wine at dinner, then they'd be taking cabs, too. Seemed like a perfect storm of fares.

The problem, though, is that every other cabbie in Arlington was thinking the same thing. And Red Top's system basically got overwhelmed with so many calls coming in. By the time we'd get to a call, we'd be late, and with the glut of cabs on the road tonight, the passengers had found another cab and didn't bother to cancel their Red Top call. As another Red Topper put it to me as we were waiting for a group of 8 to come out (they never did - they had already found other cabs), we were chasing no-shows all night. Doesn't mean it wasn't profitable, but it just wasn't as good as it should have been, considering how much demand for cabs there was tonight.

Aside from all that, there were a few heroes of the past two nights. First, the couple on Friday who honestly didn't mind when I took them to the Hirshhorn museum (7th and Independence SW) instead of the Corcoran (17th and E NW). Second, the couple tonight that didn't mind when I took them to Irish Times (near Union Station) via one of the Pentagon parking lots and then dropped them off a block away from the bar. Both those couples were understanding and sweet, and tipped nicely even though I wasted their time and ran the meter longer than it should have gone. Thanks!

Aside from that, the goats would have to be the passengers that come in and say racist things to me about other cab drivers and expect that I'll laugh at them. Boy does that get uncomfortable really quickly. There aren't too many of those, but I get a couple of them per weekend night.

Friday, February 13, 2009

happy day!

This has already been a great morning (thanks for the Dulles trip, Jilly!), and it's going to be a great afternoon (thanks for the upcoming Dulles trip, Ilana!), followed by a great night (because it's a Friday). So, I'm in a great mood.

But mainly, I'm in a great mood because I completely OWNED some guy this morning. He was actually a repeat customer; random, though, I just happened to be the closest cab each time. I already knew this guy was a fool from our trip last week*, so I was prepared. I picked him up a couple minutes after 8 am, and we were going from Court House to the House (south) side of the Capitol.

We had three options:
1) Roosevelt Bridge, hop on to Independence and ride it all the way down to the House side.
advantages: geographically shortest distance, which I am legally obliged to use; if traffic moves and we don't hit the lights, it's also the quickest
disadvantage: if the bridge is blocked up or we hit all kinds of red lights on Independence it will take forever

2) Memorial Bridge, hop on Independence and ride it all the way down to the House side.
advantages: the bridge is never stopped up, and then if Independence is clear it's pretty close to being as quick as the Roosevelt bridge; and if Roosevelt is blocked up, it's far quicker
disadvantages: it will usually take longer than Roosevelt Bridge, and while it's not much longer geographically, it feels like it to the passenger, which would upset him

3) Take the GW Pkwy down to 395 and the 14th St Bridge
advantages: 395 lets out right at his destination
disadvantages: 14th St Bridge is ALWAYS blocked up, seemingly no matter what time of day it is, and definitely at 8:10 am; geographically much longer, which would upset a passenger

So, I went with the Roosevelt Bridge, thinking that it didn't look particularly backed up. As soon as I took the Roosevelt Bridge exit, he said "you think this is the best way?" I asked him if he had been thinking about the Mem Bridge or 14th St Bridge, and he told me he thought 14th St would have been best. I said that if traffic was moving on the Roosevelt Bridge, and it seemed like it was, then we'd just shoot out on Independence and get him there quickly.

Well, needless to say (since I already said I OWNED him) the Bridge moved beautifully, and there was no traffic at all on Independence. It was an incredibly quick and efficient trip. We were chatting a little, and while we were on Independence, flying through green after green after green, I mentioned that the trip was going great. He, like the lame-o I already knew he was, said "Yeah, there must be a lot of people taking off today or something." What a lame-o! A far more appropriate response would have been "Wow Mr. Cab Driver, you were so right," or "Mr. Cab Driver, you OWNED me."

Oh, and one last reason I'm in a great mood is because another passenger gave me a bag of Cheetos! A big one, too, I think I'm gonna give it to my sisters.

*I already knew he was an idiot because last week we were chatting on the way in to town about Metro. He doesn't like Metro. I do, so I told him they need more money, and that even being underfunded like they are, I was really proud of how they did on the Inauguration. He agreed about the Inauguration. Then he said he was confused about how they have a budget shortfall because they had record ridership that day. This is incontrovertible proof that he is a fool, because
a) Metro's budget shortfall is $173 million
b) Metro's ridership on the Inauguration weekend was a record 2.6 million
c) 2.6 million rides * $2.35 per ride = $6.11 million income that weekend
d) $173 million - $6.11 million = $166.89 million shortfall
e) $166.89 million is still a hell of a lot to be underfunded
f) therefore, my passenger doesn't understand basic arithmetic and is a fool

Thursday, February 12, 2009


In response to a couple of the questions about the hug in the comments, you all should keep in mind that I am a VERY classy young man, so when I drop a passenger off at the airport, I get out of the car, open the trunk, and place their bag on the curb for them. Piece of cake.

Can you believe that a fare from Rosslyn to Bethesda only comes out to $21? That was pretty disappointing last night. I thought I was in the money, but it turned out I was just in Bethesda, which really isn't that great.

In other news, I drove around the general manager of a bar I watched football at 6 or 7 times this fall with Shithead and Jimmy. He recognized me, then admitted that his bar wasn't particularly good. I already knew that, because last time we were there, Greenie saw a drug deal happen by the bathrooms in the back*.

* update
Mom, and Mrs. Greenhalgh -
That's why Brian and I don't go to that bar anymore.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nice weather = bad

I know, I know, everyone loves a mid-May day when it's actually February. But I have to tell you, it just crushes our business here at Red Top Cab Co. All those lame-Os that were taking a cab last week when there were snow flurries have decided "you know what? let's just walk today - it's so nice outside!" I wish it could snow all year long, that would be great.

So that means I'll be working late tonight, until probably at least 11 pm, so anyone out there that needs a ride, give me a call.

In other news, we had another first last night. My first hug from a passenger, and she was cute, too! Not to brag or anything, but she said it was the best cab ride she's ever had (because of the conversation, Corey, ok? Nothing dirty there). I don't think I'll often get hugs from my passengers, but it was nice to be appreciated. What she didn't know is that it was an illegal ride because I forgot to bring my license with me; that was dumb.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Awkward guy

So last night I picked a guy up around 6:30 or so at Rosslyn and took him in to a nice restaurant near Metro Center (why don't people metro that? I don't get it). We said only a few words to each other at the beginning of the trip, then we were silent and listened to NPR on the radio the rest of the time. When I dropped him off, he paid and asked for a receipt. While I was filling that out and he was leaving the car, he said, awkwardly, "You know, in all my years in this town, you're the first Engli...uh, first, uh, Native American driver I've had."

And because it's been a while, egg beater.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Long weekend makes for tired Monday

The great thing about working until 3 am on Saturday morning is that I made a ton of money. The bad thing is that following that with a long, fun, festive Saturday night means that I am exhausted this morning. I'm gonna rest up, take a nap, then hit the road again this afternoon. Morning was kinda slow anyway, so I need to have a good evening to make it a successful day.

I was able to do some good, though, this morning. My first fare was taking a guy home from the hospital at about 7 am, and I can only imagine how tired HE was. So maybe he's feeling better now and resting up. Then, I took a Mauritanian guy from near Ft. Myer/Clarendon, where it looked like he had been visiting his girlfriend, to the Greyhound station in Northeast DC to go home to Philly. She walked him out to my cab, very concerned that he wouldn't make the bus, because he got in at 8:45 and had a 9:15 bus, which is pretty damn tough to pull off during the heart of rush hour. But I took some crafty routes and got him up there at 9:11. He says he has a small store where he sells souvenirs and knick-knacks, so if I move to Philly this fall, maybe I'll buy some dinky* keychains from him or something.

*update: I didn't mean to call the keychains crappy; I bet they are high-quality, just dinky.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Friday was so good. I drove a lot of hours, from 5 pm until 3 am, with only a quick break to pick up some VA Square buddies, but it turned out to be very profitable. I'm bone tired, but it was worth it. It's pretty clear Fridays or Saturdays are how I'm going to really make my money in this job.

I learned a couple things, too. I drove a guy from Clarendon to my neighborhood in DC, Logan Circle. After I dropped him off and stopped to do some paperwork on P St, I learned that the only thing better than an impromptu sidewalk dance-off is an impromptu sidewalk dance-off with scooters. Also, being a young white cabbie means that drunk people will say the damndest things about how happy they are to have a white cabbie who doesn't speak like (insert really racist mocking of other languages). That was uncomfortable.

The other notable last night - two identically douchily dressed guys (dudes) who went to ballroom and insisted on starting every sentence with "Dude," as in "Dude, you should really bang girl X," or "Dude, you know what's funny, is how I KNOW, but you know it would never work out between us," or "Dude, he's the guy with the really hot girlfriend. But dude, he's cool, we're going into business together," or "Dude, where are we going?" (that was to me). I answered that we were going the quick back way to Clarendon Ballroom, and he said "Dude, cool, because we have NO problem yelling at a cab driver and not tipping." Those guys were AWFUL.

Friday, February 6, 2009

First Friday night tonight

This could be a good day. In fact, I tend to use superlatives too often, but this could be my best day driving a cab EVER. I already had a solid morning, and my plan is to go out this evening (5ish or 6ish or so) and stay out until all the drunk people in Arlington go home. If there's going to be a night for stories, maybe it's tonight. Or, if nothing else, maybe someone will leave a scarf in my cab. I left mine at Knoll's at New Year's (am I gonna get that back, buddy?), so I could use a new one*.

*Red Top has a lost and found, you goofballs! That's where anything I find in my cab will go.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Last night rocked

Wow, I really have to work more nights. I just have to set off a couple per week - maybe a Tues, Wed, and Friday or something - and that will cover the other days when I work fewer hours. Last night I had calls pretty much straight from 4 pm until midnight, except for a couple breaks (thanks for dinner, Mom, and terrific shuffleboard playing (shuffling? shuffleboarding?), Brittany). And this morning went fairly well, I only worked from 6-9, but I got a couple airport trips and a couple DC trips in, so it was pretty good.

Last night I had a couple firsts - my first really cute girl, who I let smoke in my cab. I'm pretty sure that I am not allowed to smoke, but also pretty sure the law allows passengers to smoke if I'm ok with it. And there was no way I was gonna look like a square! I also had the most aggressive questioning of why I'm driving a cab, too. A young Somalian woman got in and said, "You're young, white, American - what the hell are you doing driving a cab?" She also called me handsome, but it was dark. I don't think my answer satisfied her, but we had a nice chat anyway.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

No crazy stories yet

So, it turns out that most people that take cabs aren't insane like I was hoping they would be. Most of them are fairly normal and just want a ride somewhere. I get to hear phone conversations that are sometimes interesting - this morning, some big shots trying to sell an oil tanker, or talking about how their customer was really pissed off because the latest tanker totally failed one of the tests. But nothing truly crazy. Or, to put it another way more along what Greenie was hoping to hear, I haven't met even one transgendered couple so far. Not ONE!

I do plan to work tonight (anyone at a happy hour, give me a call, 703-822-3991), and Friday night, though, so maybe I'll get some crazy drunk people then.

I've had some fairly stressful situations, in a "I'm fairly sure I know where I'm going, but if I'm gonna make it to that exact point, I'll need some luck" kind of way. My strategy is always to stay in the middle lane and watch the street signs very, very carefully. For example, do I generally know where the Navy Yard is? Yeah, because the Nats stadium is right there. But I have no clue how a passenger would enter the Navy Yard for a meeting, none at all. That was this morning, but those three dudes got there, because I basically lucked out. I wonder when my first fare who really loses it on me is going to be.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 2

I'm really tired. It's been another good morning, though, so I can't really complain, except about how awful traffic gets when lame-o DC drivers freak out about snow flurries. My cab's been full all day, which means that I'm making money. My first fare was $51 on the meter, but we got turned around because he didn't really know where he was taking me (it was way into Maryland, I'm not supposed to know all of that). I gave him $15 off because we got turned around a bit, and on top of the reduced $36 fare, he gave me a $2 tip. Owie. That guy was NOT a "good egg."

I turned on the meter at about 5:35 am or so this morning, which is REALLY early, and then didn't get my first call until 6:45, so I think this will be my last 5:30 morning. 6:30 is plenty early for me.

I drove a guy and his niece to the hospital yesterday because she had some sort of broken leg. He spent the whole time talking about his prostate, and how he had to have a catheter.

Other than that, I just drove a bunch of Republicans in this morning, and I was able to control my Democratic temper. I was proud of myself.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cab #055

I was pretty nervous and flustered this morning. I woke up at 5 am and got over to Red Top around 5:40. Since it's pretty rare for any cab driver to start immediately in Red Top, I sounded like a doofus when I didn't know: 1) where the key to my car was, 2) how to use the credit card machine (that's still a bit of a problem), 3) that I had to have my own pens, 4) how to turn on the dispatch system in my cab, 5) how to turn on the meter in my cab, and, maybe worst of all, 6) where the hell 1 N Granada St is in Arlington. I think someone didn't make it to the airport on time this morning.....

Since then, though, I've had six fares (passengers), and I've known pretty much how to get to all their destinations. Buying maps this morning was REALLY smart.

Ok, back to the road - every minute I'm not working, I'm losing money!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Nuts and Bolts

Since I don't start driving until tomorrow morning, I figured today would be a good day to answer a bunch of the questions people always ask me about how the economics of driving a cab work.

I am going to be a full-time driver, which means I will keep my cab with me 24/7. To do this, I pay Red Top a daily fee of $98 plus a variable fee that depends on how new the car is (a 2009 is $10, 2008 is $9 and so on). So, depending on which year car I get tomorrow morning, I'll be paying between about $104 and $108 to Red Top every day to rent the cab. Red Top gives us Sunday as a free day, so it comes out to around $625-$660 every week. The rental covers the insurance, the cab's maintenance and repairs and a daily carwash, but not gas. I can fill up at Red Top though, which has gas that's usually twenty-some cents cheaper than regular gas stations. With the gas costs, it probably runs an extra $20 or so every day, so we'll make that a little less than $800 every week in total costs.

When I get a "fare" (a passenger), I get to keep everything, though - the meter reading and the tip. Having to make well over $1200 or so every week is ambitious, but the guy who ran my training the other day said that in 32 years of driving a cab, he never once didn't make enough money to pay the rental fee for the day.

For example, the fare from Arlington to Dulles airport usually runs about $50, and with a good tip, it can come out to $55 or $60, and that's a hell of a productive hour or so, even counting the trip back to Arlington. When cabbies talk about a fare to Dulles, they get a misty look in the eye, as in: "Never turn down a call. You don't know until you get there - maybe they're going to Dulles....." or "Crystal City is a good area to pick up. Lotta people go to Dulles...." And, a trip to BWI is too sweet to even say aloud - it's the Holy Grail for Red Top drivers. I won't even tell you how much that fare is because I don't want to jinx it.

egg white

Friday, January 30, 2009

Training Day

First things first, I am almost CERTAIN that I passed the drug test this morning. I drank a ton of coffee so that I was really raring to go. And, unlike drug tests I'd heard of, the very pleasant nurse did not have to watch me pee, so that was really great. It's been years since I've peed in a cup, but I don't think my accuracy has ever been better. I hope I pass!

I had about four hours of riding shotgun with a nice Ethiopian guy who has been driving a cab for twenty years. I learned a lot about how to make money, and he drove me by all the cab stands in Arlington. It wasn't a particularly thrilling day, but that's ok.

I'm trying to figure out when I should be driving. It seems like early mornings are great (taking people to airports) and weekend nights are great (drunk twenty-somethings), but both of those would kill my own evening drinking habits. During the day, if today is any indication, I'll mainly take seniors from adult day care centers to their homes or to the grocery store, which doesn't sound like a particularly great way to make money. Regardless, 5:30 am Monday morning, I'm picking up my cab and going at it.

"salad sandwich" often follows "egg"

Drug Test

I've got a drug test this morning. I hope this sack of Dave's piss works out for me!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


A proud day. Arlington County gave me my Hacker's license (look up the definition, ok?). I'm H19869, which means I'm in a select group of fewer than 20,000 individuals who have ever received a hacker's license in Arlington County. Pretty heady stuff!

I also got fingerprinted, and we mailed them off to the FBI for a criminal background check. I'll admit, it's pretty badass to have to put down that I have a scar over my left eye, even if it's just because I got drunk in Iowa and fell off my bar stool.

One sad note about today. It was one last goodbye to the Class of January 26th 2009 Arlington County cab driver's test crew. I'll miss those guys. Jamshed, Havid, and Ali #1 and Ali #2 were nice fellows. And you know how it always goes. We say we'll keep in touch, but people get busy, kids have soccer practice, nobody took down anyone else's phone number....and suddenly you never see them again.


Welcome to eggnotnog, my blog about experiences driving a cab in Arlington, VA. This is a bit of a career change for me, so I figured I'd like to keep track of what it's like to be a cab driver. Judging from the surprised looks and the battery of questions from most people when I tell them about my new job, there might be some interest in reading about the Life of a Cabbie. I'll try to update it with interesting stories, or, if I can't pull that off, stories.

Also, "shell" is a word that follows "egg." Think about it.