Driving a Taxi
By: Garland Davis
In a second life after retiring from the Navy, I was in the taxi business as both a driver and the owner of a taxi leasing company for twenty years between 1992 and 2012. I met some characters and found myself in some strange situations during that period.
Many people think that taxi drivers are presented with opportunities for sex with a myriad of women. The truth is diametrically opposed to that belief. I can think of three instances where I was offered sex by a customer.
The first was a hooker. She was going to her “stroll” near the Army facility at Schofield Barracks. Since she made the trip often, she knew the fare was twenty dollars. As she got in the car she proffered a twenty and asked, “Is twenty enough or I can give you a blow job.” I took the twenty, you don’t let anyone that unattractive see your junk, much less touch it. Well, I guess it would depend on how much you had to drink.
The second time was a guy. I picked him up at his home and was taking him to a gym when he asked, “Did you ever do anything homosexual?” He got pissed when I laughed at him and sulked the rest of the trip.
The third time was a Navy wife. I picked her up at a club. She gave me an address in Navy housing. On the trip, she said, “When we get to my house, park your car and come in and we will party.”
I got pissed and said, “Your husband is really lucky. He probably has the duty or is deployed and you are out drinking and fucking taxi drivers! You make me sick.”
She then yelled at me, “He doesn’t have the duty. He is out fucking another guy. He should be home fucking his wife. He is a fucking queer!”
When we reached her house, she paid me and said, “Aren’t you coming in?”
I told her, “No get out of the car.”
She was standing in the middle of the street, in Navy housing, at about eleven PM, yelling, “Fuck You,” at the top of her voice as I drove away.
Taxi drivers are fair game for scammers. Someone is always trying to con a driver out of a free ride or a reduced fare. I picked two ladies up at a Jack in the Box late one evening. The older lady showed me a fifty, told me that it was all she had and asked if that was enough to pay the fare to a housing development on the other side of town. I told her yes, they got in and I drove them to the destination. The development was a gated area. Instead of going to the auto entrance, they asked to be dropped at a pedestrian entrance on the other side of the area. One lady got out and went through the gate, the other handed me a folded bill and said, “Thank you, honey, keep the change.” The fare on the meter was forty some dollars. She also went through the gate. I unfolded the bill. She had given me a five!
A number of drivers were scammed by a guy who would walk up to a stand and take the taxi across town. Upon arriving at his destination, he would tell the driver to wait and he would go into the house and get the money from his grandmother. The door to the house not visible from the point where he had the driver park. Some of the drivers talked with the lady who lived in the house. She told them that the guy would arrive in the street go around the house and jump over her back wall.
The drivers got together and came up with a code word that could be passed when anyone had a fare to that address. The dispatchers agreed to pass the code. After a few days, the word came over the dispatch net. To make the story shorter, when the dude jumped over the wall, he was met by five drivers he had cheated. They kicked the shit out of him. As far as I know, he gave up riding taxis.
In twenty years pushing a hack, I had one robbery attempt. The fellow walked up to the stand where I was next up and asked how much it would cost to go out to the west side of the island. I told him thirty bucks in advance. He gave me three tens and wanted to ride in the front seat. I caught the freeway and started west. He then asked if we could pull off in a developing community so he could stop at a convenience store. He told me he would give me another ten bucks. So we stopped and he came out with a bottle of water. To get back to the freeway, we had to pass through an undeveloped section of secondary roads. He suddenly yelled for me to stop that he had to throw up. As I came to a stop, He pulled a hunting style knife and told me to get out of the car. I had a hand-held shortwave radio jammed between the seats. I grabbed the radio by the antenna and slammed him across the bridge of his nose with the body of the radio as I bailed out the door. I went around the car and jerked the passenger door open. He was bent over holding his nose. I grabbed him by the collar, dragged him half out of the car and hit him again with the radio. I told him to get face down on the ground or I would kill him. I dialed 911 and reported the attempt. When the police arrived, I told them what had happened and showed them the knife in the floor of the car. The officer walked over to the guy, lifted his face up, looked, and said, “Junior, you just got paroled out of prison a couple of days ago. Looks like you going back for the full term plus. I kicked his ass and still had his thirty bucks.
Druggies will do anything and spend any amount to get their drug of choice. I once went on a call where the lady asked how much it would cost to make a round trip to town and back. I told her sixty dollars. She pulled four twenties from her pocket and gave me three of them. The druggies knew that going to that neighborhood, payment in advance was required. We made the round trip, she paid me sixty dollars to go buy twenty dollars of meth.
The scariest incident with a druggie happened early one morning. I answered a call for a pick up in a residential area. When I arrived at the house, I didn’t see anyone. I tapped the horn and a guy came out of the shrubbery, ran jumped into the car and said, “Hurry go, they are following me. Take me downtown.”
I asked where downtown did he want to go. He said just drive and gave me a hand full of money. He told me not to talk to the dispatcher that he didn’t want me sending coded messages to the dispatcher about his destination. After we entered the freeway, he started yelling for me to pull over. I stopped and he jumped out of the car for a minute and then climbed back in. I asked him why. He told me he was making sure there were no helicopters following us.
As we moved out he seemed to settle down. A little later he told me to take him to the Pacific Marina Inn, a seedy hotel in the airport area. I was happy with the change, it saved me a trip to town and got him out of the car faster. Right after he changed the destination, the dispatcher told another driver to go to the Pac Mar for a pickup. When he heard Pac Mar, he started yelling, “You sent a coded message! Stop, let me out.”
I slowed and pulled to the edge of the freeway as he got louder. I was afraid he would try to attack me, but he jumped out of the car, ran across the freeway and started climbing the fence into an Army housing area. The trip was worthwhile. He had given me over one hundred thirty dollars when he had gotten into the car.
I met a few celebrities driving a cab. Another driver and I were sent to carry the Platters to the airport one morning. We each carried two of them.
I carried many pro football players who were in Honolulu for the Pro Bowl over the years. Lousy tippers.
I carried Eddie Albert to a Japanese restaurant one evening.
I drove Michelle Wie and two sets of golf clubs to the airport one morning. Tall girl.
Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 1993, about four in the morning, I was in Waikiki hoping to get a tourist load to the airport, when a portly gentleman flagged me on the main street through Waikiki. I stopped and waited while he got into the car.
He asked, “Is there someplace we could get breakfast?”
As soon as he spoke, I recognized the voice. I said, “Uncle Buck!” I had John Candy in my cab. I told him there was a Denny’s nearby.
He said, “Let’s go. I’ll buy you breakfast. I hate to eat alone.”
I try to be funny and I enjoy making people laugh. John Candy and I hit it off. I spent a pleasurable two hours with him laughing and joking. He finally told me he had to go to a PR thing. I dropped him at his hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed and treasure that two hours at Denny’s.
I was saddened a few months later when I learned of his death.
A truly funny man!
I only had one accident while driving. It was in ’97. I was on the north side of the island. Cell phone communication was rather sketchy on that side. I found a place where I had enough service to call the dispatcher and pulled off the road to make the call. As I was on the phone, a drunk driver rear-ended me, totaling my car and knocking me unconscious. I woke up in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. If you must have an accident, get hit by a drunk driver with GEICO Insurance. They paid and paid.
There are many more stories that I could tell. Sometimes driving was boring and monotonous and other times it was fun.
The one thing I learned driving a taxi. I hate driving in stop and go traffic, but I don’t mind it nearly so much when the meter is running.