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.

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