Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cycles, Seasons and Patterns

Back in pre-ancient times, before creation occurred, in 4004 BC, according to Bishop Ussher, the world was made up of primarily agrarian civilizations. This was after the age of the hunter/gatherer, and the mother goddess was still the primary deity. Then humanity began to build cities with walls and war became a refined art as civilizations became more politically sophisticated and expanded their territories. At that time religion was still in its primitive stages and none of the modern religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam were born yet. These primitive religions, which worshipped the mother goddess, followed the yearly seasons, so the year began with the Winter Solstice, moved to the Spring Equinox, then to the Summer Solstice and ended with the Fall Equinox. This went on year after year, decade after decade, century after century, until millenniums passed by. Humanity understood that life moved in cycles and rhythms, in a circular direction like a Mandala, so it’s earliest religions were based on them.

As modern religions burst upon the scene, based upon the entheogenic visions of the primitive ones from which they evolved, they embraced the truths found in their predecessors. Many of Jesus’s parables talk about recognizing the way that nature teaches us about cycles and seasons, and He relates it to the spiritual dimension. So here and now in the year 2010, we are approaching the end of summer and the time for seasonal change with the fall harvest festivals associated with the equinox, like the Octoberfest or Halloween.

There are cycles, seasons and patterns found in the taxi cab business too, just like all human endeavors, and they merge with the ones that already exist in nature. After driving for a 7 year period, one see’s the patterns that are peppered in the fabric of reality, as they are interwoven into everyday life. Business is always better in the bad weather of the winter months, than during the summer, because people don’t like being cold and wet. There are always more fares and bigger tips at the beginning of the month, whatever month, than at the end, because of welfare, retirement and social security payouts occurring at that time. There are also patterns in passengers, incidents that occur and synchronicity frequency.

The difference between a seasoned cab driver and a novice, is their ability to reach into the recesses of their memory for similar experiences to base decisions on, like an incident that occurred Saturday night, when I got a call to Copper John’s, in downtown Salem, at around 2:30 AM, at the peak of bar rush. I was supposed to pick up Bruce, and when I pulled up to the bar, there was a crowd of at least 20 people standing there, with some of them waving at me. When I stopped and unlocked my doors 4 guys and one woman, who all appeared to be around 30, opened them and got in. A rule to make sure that you get the right person, is to ask them their name rather than telling them who you are there for, in case they lie, but I didn’t care, so I asked if it was for Bruce and they said yes, in a tone of voice that seemed insincere. After everyone was in, I turned around to the back seat of the 4 passenger sedan that I was driving and saw 3 guy and the woman, plus the guy who was sitting up front with me.

“I can only drive 4 people,” I announced.

“There are only 4 of us, look,” the guy sitting up front with me said, as he pointed and counted, “1,2,3,4.”

Then I pointed at him and said, “5.”

“We’re freezing,” the woman said, “we’ve been waiting outside for the last 45 minutes for a cab.”

The temperature was probably in the low 60’s, and I told her, “you should have called for a van.”

This initiated complaints that they weren’t told that they would need a van. So I told them that the law and the company demanded that I only drive as many people as I had seat belts for, and I only had 4. In the worst case scenario I could lose my job and license, along with a ticket and a fine, I told them. They told me that they only lived a few blocks away, but when I asked them their address it was in North Keizer, which would run about $15.00, and was 5 miles away. So I asked them to let me call a van for them.

“I’ll give you a $40.00 tip if you take us,” the guy sitting next to me said.

I thought about it a few seconds and said, “okay, put the money in my hand and we’ll be on our way.” I really didn’t want to go, because the last time that I overloaded my cab to help out my passengers, they called up and complained about something that didn’t even happen, and the boss confronted me about their lie. There are those who promise you a big tip and then when you get them there, after risking your job they renege on the tip. So I took a chance that he was bluffing and would come up with some excuse to not give me any up-front money.

Sure enough he told me that he was going to pay by debit card, so I said that he could stop at the ATM across the street, to which he balked and then demanded that I drive them to their house since I already incriminated myself by agreeing to break the law in front of witnesses. It wasn’t the first time that a passenger tried to blackmail me into doing what they wanted, but that was the last straw with this group.

“Okay, that does it,” I said, “I’m not taking you, so get out.” Then I called the dispatcher and told them that my passengers needed a van, since there were 5 of them. Dotty told me to see if anyone else needed a ride before I left.

As my blackmailing passengers exited, the guy next to me, who appeared to be the group mouth, said, “I’m going to call Yellow cab and complain about you, what is your name?”

“You don’t want my name,” I told him, “it’s #25. That’s a 2 and a 5.” I heard him talking into his cell phone after he dialed, as a couple of guys peeked in and asked if I was now available. I told them that I was, and I drove them down to the fairgrounds, but it was over for the night, so the streets were deserted. My current fares were so drunk that they were barely conscious, and the guy sitting next to me seemed to be trying to be confrontational with me, but he mumbled and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. When I got them to their place, they paid me and gave me a $2.00 tip.

I decided to get gas before I picked up another fare and drove to an Arco to fuel up, since I’d be off in an hour. When I was exiting the car to pay for my gas, I saw a $20.00 laying on my armrest. I picked it up and put it with my wad of big bills. I wouldn’t know until I added up my book for the night whether it belonged to a passenger or I dropped it. Honesty isn’t always the best policy when you don’t have all the facts. Like the time that I gave a woman a $5.00 bill that I thought she dropped, only to find out at the end of the night that I was $5.00 short on my cash, after adding up my book. I always keep a running total on tip, and add that to my trip sheet record.

When I went into the Arco to pay, the Mexican attendant who was filling my tank came in for a few seconds to lay a $20.00 bill on the counter in front of me, while the cashier clerk was in back. Then he walked out as I looked at the $20.00 within reach and thought larcenous thoughts, while remembering that cameras caught every action, so that what was done in darkness would be brought out into the light.

My last passenger of the night was one of my old co-workers from the post office, that I picked up at Duffy’s hanger, a favorite haunt of the post office crowd, since it’s the closest bar, to the main office, on 25th and Mission. At first we didn’t recognize each other, and I even suspected that he could be a problem, but suddenly we were talking and he asked me if I was retired? One thing led to another, and I suddenly turned to my fare and said, “Patrick Fortune.”

He looked at me and I had to tell him, “it’s Bob Gersztyn,” and he remembered who I was, unlike Jim Moran, who I drove numerous times after working with him for years and he doesn’t remember me. It’s real blow to your ego, when someone that you knew for years, and had a good relationship with, doesn’t remember your even when you explain everything to them. However, the reason why was terminated was because of a drinking issue. One time Jame’s McGrory called me to drive him and we had a great conversation about gone by postal days, as we drove from Jammer’s to the Pink Elephant. So Patrick grilled me about being a taxi driver and asked me if I could just drive around, to which I responded, “that’s my job.”

He had me drive downtown and I pulled up to the Beanery where I have a rock & roll exhibit on display, through September. We sat in front and he looked through the window as the meter ran and he said that he would be retiring soon and wanted to see about getting a job as a taxi driver, because it seemed like fun.


  1. Hello Taximan,
    I always enjoy your writing, I feel like I'm in the cab right along side.
    Start the meter ...

  2. The flag drop starts at $2.70, where do you want to go?