Before I fucking kill someone… I have to get off the road.

Tonight I did something I haven’t done in a while. I turned in early and let myself get back-booked.
I turned the cab in early because I felt if I stayed out I might end up killing someone.

Not in a violent or murderous fashion, but more in the accidental run someone over in a crosswalk fashion.

When I started my night out there are number of signs that this would not be a shitty night.
Signs that all showed up in the first 30 minutes of my shift. My first assigned cab had every single warning light on except for a couple and within a few blocks the last couple lit up in the car shut down. The few remaining warning lights and bells furiously exclaiming that the car should be shut down immediately. As if I had a choice in the matter.

I headed back to the yard when I finally got it restarted to turn in the cab. The replacement they gave me was one of the test cars the cab company gets from the manufacturer, a newish Jeep Patriot. Being a nice newish car, even though it’s a “gas guzzler”, I thought it might be a cool ride. Stereo was banging and the cab seemed to look nice and clean so I figured I’d have a good night.

The first two rides of the night were hard fought through horrendous traffic.

My flywheel phone didn’t work for shit and I couldn’t accept any hails, despite the fact that I could see the people e-hailing me from the block ahead. Traffic was such a complete cluster fuck it took 40 minutes of driving through this awful traffic just to get out of the financial district and onto some clear streets. Needless to say the first couple hours of my shift were a nightmare for two measly rides.

Frustrated and feeling defeated I headed to dinner, for my best friends birthday, knowing I couldn’t afford it and knowing it would take up to two a half hours of my night.  I didn’t care too much about the lost time because it’s my best friends birthday and i would be in good company.

After the dinner I thought would solve my cranky attitude and strange disposition, I hit the road and nearly hit pedestrian after pedestrian after pedestrian after parked car.  Just a few rapid succession rides having tons of near misses, I decided to turn in.

On the way back to the yard I called a fellow driver and checked with him if he thought it was a good idea to turn in early. While I didn’t really need a second opinion, and my mind was pretty set on what I was planning on doing, I figured I would check with a veteran since I was just not feeling like my judgement was the best.  Charles called me back after he dropped his fare and concurred that I was making the right decision shouldn’t chance it. If I was feeling this off and my head wasn’t in it, I should really listen to my gut and go home.  For my safety and the safety of everyone else.

Being a cabdriver I have the option to turn my vehicle and go home for the night without much hassle.  That said, when I got to the yard the cashier asked me if I was sure I wanted to turn in, and if it was the cab that was the problem or me.  Given the option to take out another cab if I felt I was ok, I indicated that the problem was between the steering wheel and seat.  Of course I will have to make up my lease fee for the evening since I won’t be paying it at the the window.  I’ll make that money up on another shift and I don’t have to force myself to work when it’s not safe for me to.  Unlike the poor SHITS drivers that get bonuses for driving when they shouldn’t or encouraged to keep driving when they are logging off the app.   Cab companies make their money on the lease of the cars, not the number of rides given.  So when I go home early, the cab company makes the same as they would if I stayed out.

While some may disagree with me, I believe this to be one of the benefits of a regulated taxi industry (unlike the SHITS).  In a properly regulated taxi industry there’s a support system in place for the driver both in the vehicle and back at a base of operations.  A driver won’t be on the road longer they need to be (or at least less likely to be) and when they feel they can’t for whatever reason they can turn in without much penalty, and in most cases, none at all.

As much as the gig economy touts their “flexible” scheduling as a benefit, they don’t stress the danger of overworking yourself, especially in the transportation end. Taxis have always been the domain of the person looking for true freedom in work. Freedom of not being governed by anything other than some very simple rules, yet with enough support and supervision to make sure you aren’t working when you shouldn’t be.

Who checked out your Uber driver before they hit the road?  Likely no-one.
Who checked out your cabbie?  Likely ten or more people if you count other drivers at the yard.

Food for thought next time you are standing like a doofus guiltily looking at your phone as empty taxis crawl by.

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