Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Scares Me The Most

What scares me the most is knowing what people are really like. If this is the first blog entry that you’ve read, then you need an explanation, but if you have been following me through my shifts for a while, I think that you know what I mean. I’ll lean to the former and offer an explanation. I just began my 7th year of driving a taxi here in Salem, Oregon, on the 5th of July. During that time I’ve driven a minimum of 3 – 12 hour shifts a week, with an occasional 4th, to help pay the bills.

For the purpose of the following calculations, we will consider the time that I’ve taken off from driving a taxi, for the purpose of an occasional vacation, medical procedures or illnesses to be offset by the occasional 4th day, which varied from every week for a month, to one or two days a month, and even an occasional no days a month. Since there are 52 weeks in the year, and 3 days a week times 52 equals 156, that will be the base number. For a year. Each time that I pick up a fare, depending on whether I’m driving a sedan or a van, I may be able to pick up anywhere from 4 to 8 people. Then there were the times that before the seat belt law was passed in 2007, I could cram as many as wanted to squeeze in my van or sedan. I drove a clown car on many an occasion, and still do if the tip is right, since I could lose my license and get fired, if caught. But wait, I’m incriminating myself, so I want to announce that I repent of any wrong doing, and will walk the straight and narrow path of righteousness, and obey every law that Caesar requires me to follow.

For the purpose of this blog, let’s get back to the point, which is how many people I have driven in my cab over a 6 year period. Since the number varies from 1 – 7, how about if I call it the number 2, as my average amount of passengers? The number of trips that I do each day varies as much as the passenger do. If a driver has an average of 2 fares an hour, for a 12 hour shift, that is 24. Some nights a driver may have less trips, that travel longer distances, or it may be slow. Since I always work the weekend, on Friday & Saturday night, I am guaranteed 20 – 30 trips, regardless on the economy or time of the month. My other regular day is Monday, which is sometimes good, until 10:00 PM or even Midnight, and if the dispatcher cuts loose, some of the drivers that want to go home, even Monday becomes a 20-25 trip night. The other nights that I drive for a 4th shift are pretty much like Monday, and vary from week to week and month to month.

So for the purpose of my calculations, let’s say that I have an average of 20 trips a night, with 2 passengers, which equals 40. Then multiply 40, by 156, which we already established as the base number for a year. The result is 6240, which then needs to be multiplied by 6 years, resulting in 37,440. This means that I have driven 37,440 people. Some I only drove once, while I drove others multiple times ranging from a few to hundreds. I drove an arbitrary cross section of humanity, who by chance or planning needed to take a taxi, at the precise moment that I became their driver.

My passengers ran the gamut of possibility, from completely stark raving insane to alcohol poisoned drunk, from battered, abused and fleeing to spirit filled, rapturous and fulfilling their destiny. There have been drug dealers, prostitutes, strippers, students, seminarians, merchants, marines, mercenaries, young people and old people, and every kind of person that can be imagined, but the bottom line is I need to make some extra cash, and driving a cab is the best way for me to do it.

I’m a writer, and whether I appreciate it or not, driving a taxi gives me stories that most people only watch on their TV sets. If I’m going to be somebody’s TV program I want to get paid like one of the people on CSI or Sex in the City, but I’m only reality, and nobody wants to hear about that, because they live it, even if not as intensely as me.

Like this past Monday night, when I picked up an arguing couple at the Roxxy, and drove them home, while they had a borderline hysterical argument, about how much the guy played in the video poker machine after his girlfriend said enough. They were originally going to go to Stars, a strip club, but went to their apartment instead after the guy got in and was angry. The 15 minute drive was at a volume that even my diminishing hearing was able to understand. The only good thing about it was that the woman paid with a $20.00, for the 12.60 fare and said to keep the change, which is why I do this in the first place.

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