Archive for United States

The Few, The Proud, The Marines

Posted in Driving Basics, Random Info, Touching Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by HackingVegas

This last Thursday was like any other day until I got to Apple Bees restaurant. Why was I there you may ask? Well that’s easy, I had a call there.  I pulled up and an older man got into my front seat and said, “ok let’s go”. I asked where we were going and he simply said, “Carefree”. I know that Carefree is a senior living center in town but couldn’t remember where it was. I asked for the cross streets and after he gave me a few streets that ran parallel I realized that he is suffering from some for of Dementia.

I looked it up on my phone and it said that Carefree was only a block away. I started that way and had a good feeling that I was wrong. When we got to the intersection, he said to go left. I asked if he was sure and then made the left.  He then started naming off streets and I noticed that the parallel streets he was talking about were the streets in order east to west that lead to Carefree.

I continued on until I came to the first red light of the trip.  A mother with her daughter, who was about 4, crossed the street and the old man started rambling on. He kept saying, “Look at her, so sweet and innocent. How lucky for her to grow up in a great place like this and not worry about being killed.” At this point I started looking at him cross-eyed and was about to tell him he needs to keep that shit to himself when he said, “sorry, I don’t mean to sound creepy. I was a in the Marines for 44 years and have seen what other cultures do to their young.  I’ve seen babies get beat to death, abused and ripped apart all to punish families for not fighting in the wars.”I couldn’t do anything but listen. He continued talking about how in some countries the local men would take babies and strap them to their bodies. They dis this knowing that most Americans would never shoot the baby and therefore it gave the enemy more time to shoot. The light turned green and he was getting upset as we continued down the street. He asked if I ever joined the military. I never did, and had strong reasons as to why, but didn’t want to tell him and get him to stop talking. Luckily he never asked why and just continued to tell me stories. He went on about some of his fellow soldiers that were killed and how they had to do unspeakable things to survive.  At one point we both started to tear up.

I’ve heard many stories over the years and have yet to have any of them effect me this way. I asked if he could tell me what he did in the military and he simply said, “kill people”.  I was stumped. How do you follow that up? I just sat quiet for a second and then he asked how I was doing. I gave him a quick “ok” and asked him the same. He said he was doing good and was looking forward to his son coming over later. They were going shooting and he was looking forward to this day for a long time. He continued on, telling me how he was born and raised in Texas and learned to love guns there. After the military, he got into hunting and kept talking about going to Africa.  He was hoping to live long enough to take his son there once his son got out of the military.  I asked what his son did. He said, “luckily nothing that I ever did. His Marines are a lot different then the Marines of yesterday.”

Marines of Today

VS

 

Marines of Yesterday

We pulled into the living center and he thanked me for letting him open up and hoped that I would pick him up more often. I gave him my number, knowing he would never remember and wished him a good day.  I finished my day and as I was dropping off my last fare I heard a cell phone go off.  I hunted around for it and found it under the front seat. I called back the number and asked if they lost their phone. The man said no but his dad must have. I knew right then whose phone it was. I asked his dad’s name and it was him.  He told me that he was trying to get a hold of him so they could go out that day. I let him know that his dad was really looking forward to it and I heard a lot about him on the way back to his dad’s house.  I let him know that I would drop the phone off to his dad in about 45 minutes on my way home for the day. He thanked me and asked for me to drop it off at the front office and he would get it on the way to go see his dad.

It’s fares like this that really make the job worth doing. I love sharing these moments with complete strangers.

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P.T.S.D.

Posted in Driving Basics, Random Info with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2011 by HackingVegas

It’s a true eye opener when what you read in the papers and see on the TV comes to life in the back of your cab. With Las Vegas having a huge military base I pick up a lot of our countries finest. Most are just wanting to get to wear they are going and move on with their day. A few weeks ago I picked up a guy from an apartment complex who looked like he was in the military but didn’t act like the other hundreds I’ve picked up.

This guy was very nice like all the others but acted like a small child would when they are being abused at home. I said good morning and asked where we where going. He gave a quick and quiet response then apologized saying, “I don’t know much about this, they just said I needed to go down here and do this thing.”  He was going to the Gas Company to get his service turned on. I let him know that the office he just asked for was on the other side of town and that they have an office a lot closer if he would rather go there. He just sat there looking out the window like he was lost and said, “no I better just go here. That’s the address they gave me”. I informed him that it would cast about $35-$40 each way and he said that’s fine because “they” gave him enough money.

On our way down it was very quiet at first. He didn’t seem to want to engage in a conversation. So I tested the waters with a simply question.

Me: So you just moving to town or just moving in there?

Him: I just got here to Las Vegas and don’t know anything about this place.

ME: Oh, Welcome. Where are you here from?

He went on to tell me about all the places he’s from and listed off about 20 different cities. I was confused and had to know more. I got him to go into more details about his travels and found out that when he “got back” (that’s all he would say about that) his whole life was gone and he knew no one and had no one to turn to. So not knowing what else to do he took the bags he had and started looking for people he knew. He said it took him a few months but he found someone who was able to help and next thing he knew “they” put him in contact with “the people” to get him here.

After that he just shut down. I asked a few more questions and got silence. Then out of no where he started asking questions about the city and some of the stores he saw on the way. One that really took me by surprise was when he asked what Wal-Mart was. I first asked,” you don’t know about Wal-Mart?” and he said no “they” told him about it but he’s never been there. So I explained what Wal-Mart was in detail and continued on.

I pulled up to the Gas Company and gave him my number to call me when he was done. He thanked me and went in. I finish my paperwork for the ride and pulled out my lunch but before I could take a bite of my sandwich he was walking back out and asked if I could take him back. I said of course and off we went. I asked if he got it all taken care of.

Him: Yes but I could have done it over the phone they said.

Me: Why did they tell you to come down then? 

Him: The Gas Company didn’t “they” did.

Me: well that sucks. What a waste of time and money.

We headed back and the random questions continued. About 3 miles from his place he asked if we could go back to Charleston and Decatur to the Wal-Mart. I said of course but if he’s just wanting to go to Wal-Mart there is one right by his house and it would be much closer and cost less money to get back from. I dropped him off and waited for his call.

When I picked him back up I noticed that he had what I would call a bachelor survival kit. This consists of a pillow, top ramen, personal hygiene stuff and a pot and pan. He got in and again I had to ask,

Me: when did you move in?

Him: yesterday

Me: Ah just getting the essentials?

Him: Yeah I have no gas for two days so I figure I can at least have a pillow for a change and microwave water for a hot meal. 

Before I dropped him off he let me know that he spent about 3 years “over there” and so not hearing gun shots and having a roof over his head is a huge improvement. This really made me think. I bitch about all kinds of shit and don’t think twice. This guy has spent years at war for this country and has payed the price mentally. I have a beautiful family and a nice house that I come home to every day, who am I to complain.

Am I an Aussie?

Posted in Crazy Families, Driving Basics, Foreigners with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2010 by HackingVegas

Days Like this make me remember why I like my job, at least one day a month.  It’s close to the end of my shift and I’m downtown hoping to get at least one more fare before I have to turn it in for the day. I head to the marriage bureau, where I at least had a chance, and a group of four come out.  They get in my cab and off we go to the Las Vegas Outlet Center.  A nice group from Australia gets themselves settled at the next stop light (get out and change seats which happens more than the TA would like but who cares). We go down the strip because they want video on the way that they havent been able to get yet. I find out that the young couple is getting hitched the next day and from what I can tell, the other two ladies were their moms (or something to that effect). They start talking about all the stops they plan on thier trip and make it clear that they are on a world tour. One thing I wish more Americans could do is travel like people from other countries do.  I hear the older two women inform the younger lady about some things that they should do on their travels (and the do’s and don’ts). Did you know in Singapore (I think she said) they will publicly flog you for littering.      

As we are heading down there, I suggest the Welcome to Las Vegas sign for the popular photo-op most people forget about.  I pull up and get out to help with the picture. I take the group and then the younger girl pulls out a gnome from the backpack shes holding.  They tell me of a Australian tradition of traveling with a gnome that you’ve stolen from someones yard and you take photos of it on your travels. Then upon your return, you put it back where it came from with the photo book of its travel memories.

They thought I would think that’s dumb. Little did they know that I love shit like that and wish people out here would do things like that without the worries of getting into trouble or getting shot. Then they asked if I would take a picture with it. HELLS TO THE YEAH I WOULD. So I’m a little crazy like that. I love doing silly stuff and that was right up my alley.  So now I ask, does that make me an honorary Aussie or what? I hope so! They seem to be cool people. Almost everyone I’ve had from Australia is nice and out for fun. Besides, I could move there for our winters  and enjoy their summer. HHHMMM I think I’m onto something. Plus, I think I could finally find someone to control my dogs.

Taxi Cops

Posted in Law Enforcement with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2010 by HackingVegas

Here in Las Vegas we have a “Police Agency” that over sees the taxi industry as a whole. This is nothing new to many drivers around the world, most know them as transit cops so I’ve been told. But just like anything else in Vegas, this special group of cops are corrupt and out to get what they can from us drivers , not to help us.  They call themselves the Taxi Authority. These fine men and women are the end all – be all of the taxi world.

When you get hired at a company (there are no owner-operators or leased cabs), before they do anything with you, they have you go to the Taxi Authority (TA) and get your permit.  You have to pass background checks and a written test (with no study guide or idea whats on it). Then you have to go to a safety class where they try to scare the hell out of you for two days. During all of this you still do not get very many rules as to the does and dont’s of the road. They basically say don’t long haul (taking a fare the long way to run the meter up) and don’t get killed. I’m sure there was more but who cares, a good driver only has to really worry about speeding tickets.

This post could go many ways but I plan to use this to talk up the good side of the TA. For the most part they are really out there to try to help you guys (The Fare). They take all complaints and deal with them based on importance. The one thing they don’t wait on is dealing with “Long Hauling”. This is mainly seen going to and from the airport. There is only one way any driver should take you out of the airport to the strip or downtown and that’s via side streets. A tunnel was made a while ago to help local traffic get through the airport and to the Highway but about 10% of your Hacks will use that to run the fare up between $8-$12.  This is illegal! The TA is more than willing to help you guys out with this. So come with the knowledge of your fare and avoid being ripped off. 

Other than that I personally have nothing else good to say about them. I have had a few run-ins with them and have all been negative. I’ll go into more details about that later. Meanwhile when visiting Las Vegas speak up and don’t be walked on.

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