EXTRA, EXTRA, Don’t Want To Be One!
I thought I would bring my readers into the backstage workings of a Hack in Vegas. I was talking to a buddy of mine that I use to work with at another cab company and he was telling me that he was wanting to leave that company. He really can’t stand how the company has changed and he finds it harder and harder to keep up with the long haul drivers they have. I asked him why he didn’t’ just go somewhere else. He said one of the worst words in the Vegas Hack language. He said that he’s too old to be an “EXTRA” and if he went anywhere that’s what you start off as.
What’s an extra you may be asking. Well as a cab driver being, an extra means you sit and sit, oh and don’t forget you sit some more (we are commission employees so we sit for free). See when you get hired at a cab company in Vegas you are not given a schedule at most companies and are just told to show up at 2:30am and check in. After you check in you are told to have a seat and then you wait. At the company my buddy still works at, you are sitting outside on bleachers. You have a roof over your head but otherwise you are open to all the elements. As you sit there you wonder if you are going to get a cab. You wonder how they decide who goes out and who doesn’t. Oh yeah I forgot to tell you, not everyone gets a cab. Here are the most common situations an extra finds him/herself in.
You show up at 2:30am 7 days a week, check-in and have a seat. About every half hour to an hour they put out a shift. So as the drivers who have a schedule show up, you get less and less hopeful. You learn faces and routines of each “shift diver” (drivers with schedules) and when one of them isn’t there at the normal time you hope to god they are sick or got pulled over on the way in. Why you may ask, well that’s easy. If you’re a shift driver and your shift starts at 3am then you have to be there at 2:45am and not a second later. Otherwise, your shift is given to an extra. As an extra you really look forward to that time for every shift. You find yourself sitting up, slightly leaning in toward the launch supervisor and giving him the biggest googliest eyes you can without freaking him out.
You have freaked him out so much he bumps a shift driver standing right in front of him (whispering “I owe you one”) to give you a cab just so you will leave. You smile, say thank you so much and pat him on the rear proclaiming, “he’s the best” as you skip to the cab.
You sit there trying to figure out if you’ll be missed while you go take a baseball bat to the knees of the last shift driver you hear running from around the corner before returning to take his cab. (hey it’s survival of the fittest)
You have been “booking” (money you make on the cab meter) well on the other days and so when a shity shift driver is close to being late they give you his cab and they tell him, “sorry my watch says you’re late”.
Enough people have called in that you are given a cab right away and off you go to make money.
You sit there waiting as your inner most hopes of making money that day are ripped to shreds and you watch every cab go out and you are told to go home. Not to mention they send you with the parting gift of, “if someone gets sick we’ll call you back in to go out. OK?”. No that’s not OK. But if you don’t come back in if they call, you get put on “the list of drivers who don’t like to work”
Outcome #6 (Save the worst for last)
You sit and wait and wait and it’s now 5:30am and the last driver doesn’t show up. YAY you get a shift right? No not so much. You got up for work at 1:30am to be there by 2:30am, you sat for 3 hours and now they hand you a 12 hour shift. That means you don’t get off the road until 5:30pm and you don’t start heading home until about 6:00pm once your paperwork is done. You get home about 6:30pm and eat some dinner, by now you know if you don’t get to bed you wont even get 6 hours of sleep. You have a wife and or kids to care for so that goes out the window. After only getting maybe 4 hours of sleep you wake up to do it all over and hope for outcome #1
So after my buddy said he didn’t want to be an extra, I simply said, “Come over to my company. We have an enclosed room to sit in and you only have to come in 5 days a week. It’s great! “. He shakes his head and says, “God it’s sad when we consider that to be great”.