Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Last Minute Express

The other day I had a call to pick up a guy (let’s just call him “John”), in Gilbert, and take him to the airport. I was supposed to be there at 1:00pm, but as the call was sent to me just a few minutes before 1:00, and because I was unfamiliar with his neighborhood, which was a brand new subdivision, and because traffic was rather heavy, I was about fifteen minutes late picking John up.

When I got to his address, he got into my cab and began to berate me for being late, as it was very important that he make his flight. We had to be to the airport by two-fifteen. Since we were about thirty or forty minutes from the airport, I knew that it was going to be a really close call.

I thought to myself,

“You know, only a moron would allow so little time for such an important trip. Even if he was absolutely certain he’d be picked up on time, you’d think that he might have enough imagination to allow for time killers like flat tires and heavy traffic.”

But, rather than saying this him, I said,

“No problem sir, we’ll be to the airport by about two o’clock.”

He visibly relaxed, and off we go.

After a few minutes, John said to me,

“You know, I don’t have my ticket yet, so we need to stop and pick it up.”

Did he just say, ‘I don’t have my ticket yet?’

“Well, where do we have to go to get it?”, I said.

He replies, “Well, he lives at about Fifty Second Street and Van Buren, and because he’s leaving his house soon, we need to be there by a quarter to two.”

Talk about pressure! I was pretty sure I’d get him to the airport by two, but with this side trip, I now had my doubts, because it’s already one twenty-five, and we were still almost twenty miles from Ticket Guy’s house. We were going to have to hit every traffic light green, and go balls to the walls on the freeway to even have a chance. Needless to say, I’m a little worried. You would be, too! But I’m a professional, so I tell the guy that I’d do my best, but I wouldn’t risk a ticket or wreck.

I put the hammer down, and offered to lend him my cell phone to call Ticket Guy to buy a few minutes, but he had his own phone, and sensibly, made the call. Ticket Guy didn’t answer. It figures! Anyway, by driving an average of about ten miles per hour over the speed limit, I got Mr. Leave-It-To-The-Last-Minute to Ticket Guy’s house with about five minutes to spare. Whew, what a relief! Not only was Ticket Guy at home, but John came back to the car with a smile on his face!

So, it’s now about one-forty, and we’re only about ten minutes from the airport. As long as nothing goes wrong, I’m going to get him there with plenty of time to spare.

Now, under normal circumstances, this would pretty much be the end of the story. But, if you’ve read my column for any length of time, you know this isn’t the end of the story. (Can anyone out there guess what is coming next? Yes? No? Maybe? Well, read on.) By the way, I forgot to mention that I had been sucking on a Super-Duper Extra Large size soda for about an hour, and a few minutes after picking John up, I began to feel a slight urge to find a tree. As we left Ticket Guy’s place, that slight urge began to move a little higher up on my list of things to do. Just what I needed at this particular moment in time: more pressure! Anyway, back to our story; where were we? Oh yeah…

So, it’s now about one-forty, and we’re about ten minutes from the airport, plenty of time for John to make his flight. As we pull out on to the road, John says to me,

“You know, airplane food is terrible, and I’m really hungry. Take me to the Jack-In-The-Box drive through.”

Well, why the hell not? It’s only about a mile away, in the opposite direction, is likely to have a seven car wait, but, hell, we’ve got plenty of time to spare, lets go for it! As I turn the car around towards The Jack, I began thinking,

"What’s up with this jag-off? He was practically screaming at me half an hour earlier for being late, but now he’s telling me that there’s nothing more important in his life at this very minute than a freakin’ Jumbo Jack with cheese, which he just has to have before he gets on the plane, which at this point is looking like it’s going to get in the air before the first French fry gets down his cake-hole. What the hell is up with this guy!”

But, ever the Helpy Helperton, I say,

“Jack-In-The-Box it is, sir!”

Luckily, there wasn’t a line at all, but the service was really slow, with a net result of only about ten of his precious minutes being chewed up, much like what he did to two Jumbo Jack’s, and a large fries. It’s now about one-fifty, but we’re still not much more than ten minutes from the airport, so I’m going to have John to the airport at about exactly two o’clock, which is what he said he wanted in the first place. With any luck at all, I’ll be able to put an “X” in the box marked, “Another satisfied customer.”

But wait! There’s more! Mr. “Leave it all to the last minute, fuck-it, I like living on the edge, because it gives me such a rush!” has additional plans that must come to fruition before I can finally drop him at the check-in counter, so he can haul his sorry ass up the jetway and get on that big silver bird. Now, I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it, too:

“What the hell else can he possibly need to do, seeing that time, precious time, is so short?”

Well, friends, let me tell you, although it blows my mind to remember it, just as we’re pulling into the airport, John pulls out his cell phone, and calls what sounds like his wife. He talks to her for about a minute, and when we’re about three seconds from turning off onto the ramp leading to the terminal, he tells me there’s going to be another short side trip, because he wants to go give his wife a kiss goodbye! He says to me,

“She works over near Twenty-Fourth Street and University. We can be there and back by two-fifteen, right?”

Can you believe it? I still cringe when I recall the moment…Anyway, I’m thinking,

“Why in the hell should you stop at a kiss! Why not grab the wife AND the kids, get a picnic basket from the nearest deli, head on out to the park and make a fuckin’ day of it. We’ve got plenty of time! The plane, and whatever you we’re going to do when you finally get where you were going, can wait! Let’s live for the moment! How about we go to a strip club, shove some dollars into the G-strings of a few strippers, and really get down! Then, when the excitement of seeing all those naked titties begins to pale, let’s stop and get the cab washed, waxed, and detailed!! And what the hell, while we’re at it, let’s stop and get a hooker, and have her suck some of the tension out of what is by now an extremely tense situation, at least from my point of view.”

And why shouldn’t I be tense? If this guy misses his flight, you and I both know it’s going to be his fault, but I know who he’s going to blame. That’s right, your Cab Guy! He’s not going to consider all the side trips he added on to the trip, he’s just going to think about how I picked him up twenty minutes late. There’s just now way I can win. But what I say is…

“Sure, why not, I’m kind of a romantic at heart, let’s go for it!”

What the hell, the meter’s running, isn’t it? Just as long as he doesn’t ask at the end of the trip if I take credit cards, because it takes a couple of minutes to process the transaction, and I want this guy gone.

So, anyway, we go over to where John’s wife works. When we get there, he calls her out, and they stand there hugging and kissing for a few minutes. I’m starting to get diabetes, the scene was so sweet. They kiss one last time, and as she turns to walk away, John gets back into the car, shuts the door, leans back with a contented look on his face, and sighs. I’m touched. He says,

“Okay, we can go back to the airport now, I’ll still make the plane on time.”

Well, it’s about freakin’ time, because I’ve got to piss like a racehorse. Relief is just a few minutes away. Away we go…

As we pull into the terminal, I say,"Thank you for your business sir. That will be sixty-five dollars.”

And he says, (All together now, with feeling and harmony…)

“Do you take credit cards?”

I almost wet my pants!

Until next we meet…

(A version of this column first appeared in the December 11-24, 2003 edition of "Fast Lane Magazine," a Phoenix, Arizona biweekly entertainment magazine, under the byline of 'Matt "The Cab Guy" Kelly.'


Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Gas Can and the Traffic Cop

Hello again, my good friends. I’m glad that you could come along on this week’s journey. Since we last conversed, not one person has asked me, “Well, is it hot enough for you?” I guess the word got out that I hate this question. But it has been a hot summer so far here in the Metro Phoenix area. Here’s a good survival technique: stay inside as much as possible!

But seriously folks, no matter where you are, drink plenty of fluids, and don’t forget the same for your car’s radiator. As a matter of fact, while we’re talking about it, go ahead and fill up a gallon jug with water, and put it in the trunk of your car, just in case. You never know when you, or the car, are going to need a drink. Nothing beats planning, that’s what I always say. Say, that reminds me of a couple of short little anecdotes.

"The Gas Can"

I think that it’s always a good thing to plan for every contingency, or at least as many as you can think of. However, I know there are people out there who think they are good planners, but in reality, aren’t. I mean, on the surface, it appears they have good planning skills, but when you get right down to it, they really don’t have a clue. Here’s a good example. The other day I was tooling down the freeway when I came upon this car off to the side of the road, with its’ flashers blinking. As I went by, I saw that there was no one in the car. A few seconds later, I came upon a guy walking down the side of the freeway, carrying a little red can. Ah, the mystery is solved! I pulled over, and gave him a ride to the nearest gas station, and didn’t charge him for the effort. He thanked me, and I went on my way, as I had to pick someone up few minutes later.

As I drove away, I got to thinking about this fellow’s lack of ability in the effective planning department. Of course, some of you have figured out what’s going on, and agree with me: the guy was a poor planner. And I know that some of you reading this right now are saying, “Lack of planning? Cab Guy, the dude was obviously a planner! He had a gas can in the car, just in case he ran out of gas! If that’s not planning, tell me what is, smart guy!” Well, to you folks I say, yeah, you’re right, the guy was a planner. But what he planned to do was run out of gas!

That’s right, he planned to run out of gas. Why else would he have a little red gas can in his trunk? I mean, it’s not the same thing as having jumper cables in the car, just in case your battery goes dead. Most of the time that you need your jumper cables, your battery went dead without any warning whatsoever. But when was the last time your gas tank went empty with no warning whatsoever? It just doesn’t happen.

Now, a few years ago, a buddy of mine had a car that gave audible warnings for various conditions his car was in. For example, if he left his lights on after turning off the engine, a little voice would say, “Lights are on!” My friend would then turn his lights off. Anyway, I was thinking, for those people who carry the little red gas can in the trunk, what they really need is this sort of audible warning system, because it’s obvious they either:

a) pay absolutely no attention to the gas gauge; b) don’t believe it anyway, or:
c) pay attention to the gauge, know it is correct, but believe that the truth doesn’t apply to them in this particular situation. (Oh yes, there are indeed people who have just such a warped sense of reality!)

So Detroit, give these people a little help, and put an audible gas warning in cars. Here are my suggestions for the warning statements:

1. “You have less than a quarter of a tank of gas remaining. Might I suggest you fill up soon?”
2. “Your fuel situation is getting critical. You have two gallons of gas remaining. Please stop for gas in the next few minutes.”
3. “Hey, buddy. I’m working off fumes. How about we get some gas? Now!”
4. “Uh, dude, I hope you have got on some comfortable shoes, ‘cause you’ll be walkin’ real soon!”
5. (As the car comes to a juddering halt.) “Okay, I tried to warn you, but no, you wouldn’t listen! You figured you could stretch it just a few more miles. Well, screw you, Einstein! I’m empty! Get out, and start walking! And take that stupid little red can with you, moron!”

You know, I’m not really sure this would cure the problem of people running out of gas, now that I think about it. Considering that most of today’s cars not only have the gas gauge, and a light that comes on when you’re low on gas, but quite a few cars come with “Distance to Empty” displays, and people still manage to run out of gas! It’s nice to know that technology doesn’t change some things. Like stupidity.

"The Traffic Cop"

Speaking of planning, I really think that all of you reading this should have a plan for what to say when a cop stops you. I really do, because, eventually, almost everyone will be pulled over for one reason or another. If you haven’t had the experience, don’t worry, you probably will. Here are a few ideas that I’ve come up with, to help break the ice at that awkward moment that occurs when a police officer taps on your window. If you play things right, you can turn an otherwise unpleasant experience into a worthwhile personal encounter, and have some harmless chuckles. And maybe a visit to the local Greybar Hotel.

Now, call me a psychic, or maybe a cynic, but I predict that the first thing the nice police officer will say will be something like, “May I see your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, please?” I suggest you politely say, “Why certainly officer, I have them right here!” And then hand over the requested documents. It is extremely important at this point to be polite and cooperative, but say nothing else until the cop says something to you. This allows some tension to build, and gives more impact to your response to the next question, which is sure to be (all together now), "Do you know why I stopped you?” Here is where you get to have a little harmless fun at the officer’s expense. Pick the response that most closely matches your own personal situation, and have at it!

Cop: “Do you know why I stopped you?”

What to say if you are a/an:

Hot Chick: “Hoping to get lucky?”
Bakery Truck Driver: “Running low on doughnuts?”
Schizophrenic: “Yes I do. No I don’t!”
Musician: “No, but if you hum a few bars, I think I can pick it up.”
Secret Agent: “Yes. But if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.”
Ignoramus (Politically Correct version of “Retard”): “Uhh… I dunno.”
Apathetic Loser: “I don’t care.”
Off-Duty Police Officer: “Will you quit screwing around, Bob?”
Efficiency Expert: “No, but I have a check-list if that will help speed things along.”
Private Detective: “I haven’t got a clue.”
Clint Eastwood Fan: “Do you feel lucky, punk?”
Elvis Pressley fan: “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog!”
Comedian: “The same reason a dog licks his balls?”
Taxi Driver: “You’re lost, and you need directions to Dunkin’ Donuts?”
Lawyer: “Objection! Calls for speculation on facts not in evidence!”
Buddhist Monk: “You seek the path of true enlightenment?”
Priest: “You want an impromptu confession?”
Dog: “Same reason I lick my nuts?”
Black man: “Racial profiling?”
White man: “Beats me. I’m white!”

The look on the officer’s face should provide you with plenty of laughs, making the hours you spend waiting to make bail go by so much quicker!

Until we meet again...

(A version of this column first appeared in the July 24, 2003 edition of "Fast Lane Magazine," a Phoenix, Arizona biweekly entertainment magazine, under the byline of 'Matt "The Cab Guy" Kelly.')


Friday, September 7, 2007

Rico Suave Makes a Booty Call

Pay close attention, this story has a moral!

One night, a few months ago, I picked up four guys at a bar in Old Town Scottsdale. They all piled into the cab, and although I asked, they did not immediately tell me where they were going. It was about two in the A.M., but I could see that sleep was the last thing on their minds, except for one young man, who kept saying,

“I have to be up at nine forty-five in the morning!”

The others kept saying things to him like,

“Dude, come on over, we got more booze at home, and women are coming over!”

Sleepy Head finally acquiesced, so one of his buddies finally gave me a destination, telling me to go to the area of Thirty-Second Street, north of Camelback Road. On the way over there, while Sleepy Head is noticeably absent from the conversation, all I keep hearing is the other three guys talking about booze and women, women and booze. This is a scenario that I am somewhat familiar with, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s this: these guys will certainly have plenty of booze, but probably not enough women. If any.

Anyway, we get to their destination, and the three party animals start to pile out, going through the old “who has got what cash to pay the cabbie” act. You know what I mean. If you think about four friends at Denny’s when the check comes, but with far less organization, you’ll have a good idea of what I am talking about. Anyway, they give me fifteen dollars for a thirteen dollar fare, which is not bad for a ten minute trip at two in the morning. I say “Thank you,” and am about to pull away when I notice that Mr. I’ve-Got-To-Get-Up-Early-In-The-Morning is still in the back of the cab. His friends keep saying,

“Come on, Dude, we got booze and women, women and booze!!”

But they can’t convince him to stay with them. He tells me to take him back to Hayden and Indian School, because he wants to go home. Great, I’m thinking, back-to-back fifteen dollar fares! I must be living right. Good times!

Now, just as soon as we get out of the sight of his friends, he’s on his cell phone, talking to some chick. He keeps saying things like,

"Come on baby, I’m in a cab, I’ll be right over!”

Finally she must have agreed to his little late night rendezvous, because I hear him ask her,

“Where do you live again?… Fifty-sixth Street and Camelback… what’s the directions… okay… okay… uh,hmm… I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Now, we’re southbound on Thirty-Second Street, already past Camelback Road, but I’m on the job. I make a quick U-turn, and off we go. He tells me that he needs to stop at the Circle-K on Forty-Fourth Street and Camelback. I figure that he’s gonna hit the ATM, or get some smokes, whatever. I pull into the Circle-K, and he gets out and goes inside. He comes out a couple of minutes later and starts opening what looks to be a pack of cigarettes. No problem, I smoke, so it’s cool. But then, oddly enough, he throws the package in the trash, and shoves something into his pocket. I twig to the fact that it isn’t cigarettes, it rubbers, that he’s just bought. Our Hero is making plans! So anyway, he gets back into the cab, gives me directions to his lady friend’ house, and off we go.

Now, along the way, he tells me that he’ll have to get the money for the cab ride from the girl that he’s going to see, and asks if I would mind waiting. Hell no, I don’t mind waiting, the meter’s gonna still be movin’, and that can’t be anything but good for me. Time is Money! Then he says,

“I guess I must look pretty pathetic. I mean, going over to some girl’s house, and having her pay for the cab ride.”

I disagree with him, partly to be polite, but mostly because I am beginning to think that he’s a hell of a lot smarter than his buddies, because while they’ve got booze and (maybe) women, he’s got a sure thing. Anyway, when we get there, he gets out, goes into the house, comes out a couple of minutes later, and hands me the fare and a pretty good tip. I thank him and say good night, and he turns and starts to walk away. Then he stops, turns around, and walks back to me. When he gets back to the car, he says once again,

“You must really think I’m pathetic, don’t you?”

I look at him for a moment. Then I look at the meter. Then I look at the money in my hand. Finally I look back at him. He’s got a huge shit-eating grin on his face. I start to grin. I say,

“Whatever you say sir. I thank you for your patronage. I hope you have a good night.”

Then I put the car in gear, and get on out of there.

Pathetic? More like a frickin’ genius, if you ask me. I mean, think about it: his buddies buy him drinks all night long; then, over his protests that he just wants to go home, they unwittingly get him to within two or three miles of his girlfriend’s house. As if that isn’t enough, they fall for his lame “I’ve got to get up early tomorrow” story, and let him leave. What they don’t know is that he’s just a phone call away from where the real action is. He then proceeds to set up a booty call, getting the booty to pay for the cab. His total investment for a night of fun and debauchery? About two dollars and change for the rubbers. Do you think he’s pathetic? Come on, this guy is the social-sexual equivalent of that travel book, “How To See Europe On Five Dollars A Day.” Pathetic my ass! Allow me to repeat myself: this guy is a frickin’ genius!

Now, I know all of the people who have just finished reading this story fall into three broad groups. Group One consists of people that realize that there is a moral to the story, and understand it. If you are a member of this group, you are excused from any further reading, as this column is over, as far as you are concerned. Give yourself an “A” for comprehension, but don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.

Group Two consists of people who don’t realize that there is a moral to this story, don’t care that there is a moral to this story, and certainly wouldn’t understand the moral to the story if it were explained to them in words of two syllables or less. If you are a member of this group, you, too, are excused from any further reading, because, for you, this column is likewise over. Give yourself an “A” for effort, but please, try not to drool so much next time we meet.

Group Three is for everyone who doesn’t fit into either Group One or Group Two. It consists of people who realize that the story has a moral, mostly because just prior to the beginning of the story I said there was a moral, and they remember reading that part. Another characteristic of the people in Group Three is that they don’t know the moral, but would like to know it, if for no other reason than to say that they are “in the loop.” It is to the people of Group Three that I aim my next comments. Please pay attention, you may learn something.

The moral of the story, “Rico Suave Makes a Booty Call” is this: “If your buddies buy you drinks all night long, and your girlfriend pays the cab fare for you to go over and bang her, it doesn’t matter what the cab driver thinks. His opinion doesn’t count. He got his. Now go get yours!” All you people in Group Three ought to thank your lucky stars that you have someone like your faithful Cab Guy to explain things to you

Until we meet again…

(A version of this post first appeared in the November 2, 2003 edition of "Fast Lane Magazine," a Phoenix, Arizona biweekly entertainment magazine, under the byline of 'Matt "The Cab Guy" Kelly.')