THE FIGHT FOR CABS

It never ceases to be interesting working for a large video game company that is located in downtown Vancouver. We’re almost done skate, we’ve got good press, the rest of the company is behind us (and that starts from the CEO all the way down), and we’ve already got a lot gamers onboard. As such, we’re putting in the final bits of OT and that includes working pretty late on weekends.

Tonight was the first fireworks night on the weekend and downtown was jam-packed. Two designers and I went for a slice of pizza just before 10pm and it wasn’t too bad. It was a different story after 10:30pm. From about 11pm onto about 1am, there was a line-up for the Skytrain at Waterfront Station that extended probably at least a long city block. That was just to get inside the station.

At 1am, three of us realized we’d probably would need to start calling for cabs now if we wanted to get home anytime soon. Jordan got a jump on us and snagged a cab first. That left Arnel and I to wait in the lobby. Arnel’s cab came next and he got in right quick. About 10 seconds behind his cab was another one, which I thought was mine. This guy was just about to pull in front of the building when for some reason, he pulled a quick turn and went to the corner across from me to let this other couple in. I got annoyed and I ran out to the cab against a red light. By the time I got there, the lady had already gotten in. I yelled at the driver.

“Wait, what are you doing? This is a corporate account. I called you guys twenty minutes ago. Why did you pick up a flag fare?”

The driver just shrugged and pointed at the couple who were now firmly entrenched in his cab. He drove off, leaving me to think he was probably an idiot that preferred Deer Hunter games anyways.

I crossed the street back to the lobby and sat on one of the armchairs in the waiting area. I was going to have to call for another cab but it had already taken me 20 minutes of being on hold to get the first one. It was then I noticed a group of about four or five young people who had sat down on the steps outside the building. They were probably in their late teens. They sat quitely, chatting amongst themselves. They also didn’t appear to be drunk, which was really suprisingly or perhaps I’m just old and cranky now.

Anyways, it took me another good 10-15 minutes to get through to the cab company. When I did, I didn’t mince my words.

“Your driver picked up a flag fare right at my corner. He left me here.”

“He didn’t pick you up? Geez… he is going to suspended. Ok, I’m sending you another cab.”

The dude then asked me for my name but he didn’t ask me where I was going. I looked up and the group of young people were still sitting on the steps. At the intersection, a cab with its light on was slowly rolling up. It wasn’t the company I was looking for, so I didn’t care. The group on the steps saw the cab and started waving to it. They got up to go to the corner. Unfortunately for them, the cab didn’t stop but they remained on the corner. Crap, they were waiting for a cab… right on the corner where my cab was coming. I was hoping this wasn’t going to be a problem.

Five minutes went by before I saw the Vancouver Taxi stop at the light. He was in the left hand turn lane, so I knew he was going to drive by the building. The teenagers started waving at him. I exited the building and tried to make eye contact with the driver. The teenagers all had their backs to me so they didn’t see me behind them.

The light turned and the driver made his turn, slowly pulling up to the curb. I began to walk to the curb, about 15 feet down from where the teenagers were. The kids really thought he was going to stop for them. He glided slowly by them and I got to the curb at exactly the right moment.

“You Erwin?”

“Yes, I am.”

I got in and leaned out the window.

“I’m really sorry. I’m just trying to get home from work.”

I must have sounded like the most insincere sumbitch but it was the honest truth. I mentioned to the driver that I had just finished a 14 hour day. Ok, so it was more like 13 hours but who’s counting?

He pulled a u-turn and as we passed the kids, he yelled out at them.

“He just finished a fourteen hour day!”

He laughed and one of the kids said something back that I didn’t hear but it didn’t sound mean or angry. I felt really bad. They did seem like some decent folk who were just trying to get home after fireworks. The fact they didn’t seem drunk made it worse for some reason. I couldn’t care less about some drunken morons trying to get home from the bar but these people weren’t like that.

He already knew I was going to Port Moody, which was weird since I didn’t tell the operator guy where I was going. Did they have my info on file now?

Anyways, my cabbie turned out to be an interesting guy. He’s been both cocaine and heroined addicted. He also freely admitted to having procured prostitutes in the past. He also told me about the women he sometimes meets on the job. You have to take everything you hear with a grain of salt, but I kinda believed him. We even talked about the video game industry for a bit. Suprisingly, he even knew the biggest flaw that most junior designers have when they first start out… and if you mail me $19.95, I’ll tell you what that is.

The dude was so interesting that at the end of the ride, I tipped him an extra $5 outta my own pocket.

I can’t wait to battle it out for a cab next weekend.

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