To be insightful means to intuitively grasp things - an "aha!" moment!

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I am a member of the church of Christ. I have been writing things since I was little. Some have been printed, some posted. I write to teach or encourage; to blow off steam; and for fun! I had my own motorcycle in my 40s; I was a bluegrass music DJ for about 13 years; I've performed some. I am a member of the NRA. In 2003 (age 59), I became high partial legally blind; in 2005, I had to get hearing aids! Franklin Field said: "Poor eyes limit your sight; poor vision limits your deeds". And no kidding, the picture was made April, 2012!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Taxi Time Again

Since finding the taxi drivers' blogs, I'll tell about a particularly interesting fare I had. This would have been between about 1980 give or take a couple years. I was driving a cab the morning of May 9, 1980 at the time the Sunshine Skyway Bridge went down (you can do a search about that) - but I'll save that story for another time. I was reminded of this unusual fare after reading "A Christmas Play on Life" from February of this year on the Taxi Vignettes blog (added this evening to my favorites).

Most of the time, I worked TIA (Tampa International Airport). Most of the fares were locals - some going to and from vacation, business trips, to the Pinellas County beaches, to mouse town (it opened in 1971 - Carl Hiassen is one of my favorite authors - having lived in FL about 30 years, I can relate to some of his hilarious murder mysteries; his novels for children are just as good - as to mouse town, be sure to read his "Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World" ... but I digress!). But this one fare, on a clear weekday, looked like something I wasn't real sure I wanted. He was stocky, not tall, had on a dark suit, had a brief case, and one good size suitcase. I opened the back door of the cab. He got in. I put his suitcase in the trunk. I asked: "Where to?" and he, in clipped English, said: "Sand. Castle. Motel". Oooo-kay.

All I knew about the Sandcastle Motel was that it wasn't in Tampa, so before I drove off, I asked a couple other cabbies. Lotta help THEY were! All they knew was that they thought it was in Pinellas County. I radio'd our dispatcher where I was going - we had to check in if we left the county, probably so someone would know the general area of where to look if we didn't reappear. United Cab was on the same radio frequency as one of the companies in Clearwater, so once we started across the bridge (NOT the Skyway!), I radio'd: "United 27 to Clearwater Cab" - and asked where the Sandcastle Motel was. Their dispatcher told me; I'd probably been by it a lot of times taking people to the beach area.

When we left the county, rather than running the meter, we had flat rates based on roughly the miles to the other area. At the time, the rate from TIA to Clearwater was about $22. Most fares would give us $25.

OK. Got to the Sandcastle Motel, the man got out, I got his suitcase and took it to the front desk. The man asked: "How. much". Knowing that English wasn't his language, I couldn't make him understand. The clerk and I were pretty sure he had a French accent, and the clerk said he had a motel guest from Canada. I wrote down $22, and the man gave me a ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR bill, and brushed me off when I tried to motion: "lower, lower". No French speaker showed up, so I left. I went maybe a mile. My conscience wouldn't let me keep the money - hey, a tip is a tip but I didn't want to take advantage of anyone who didn't know our money. So I went back to the motel.

When I walked in, the French-Canadian was at the front desk, talking to the clerk and the man I had taken there. I explained the situation, offered the hundred-dollar bill back to the man, and what I said was then translated to him. This odd man then held out a tightly packed stack of 100's a quarter-inch high, flipped through it, and said: "Merci ..." and something else which, translated back to me, was: "Keep it".

Even though this was not December, when I left, the desk clerk grinned and said, "Merry Christmas?"

I could have quit for 2 or 3 days - but cabbies can't do that because the next 2 or 3 days, you might get nothing but an occasional $5 fare.

Yes, I remember exactly where I was when the Skyway went down. I remember the time I got stiffed on a fare. The couple of times someone accused me of charging too much which I couldn't do because of the meter of course! The time it was raining and my wipers quit and I had a honeymooning couple in the back seat ... Wanna hear those stories? Just ask me!

Oh, by the way, the man who went to the Sandcastle Motel? He was part of the Church of Scientology. I think maybe they owned that motel. Their headquarters were either across the street or close by.

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