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!