Tonight, I was the statue.
Logged on at 7:00pm and switched on the roof light. Oops, no light. Mexican Mary had taken the roof light off to wash the cab and had not reconnected the plug. No problem, I mated the two ends and still no light. Hmmm.
Pulled out of the parking structure at The Grand, where ONE-NINE gets its brief rests, and went to the Ballroom entrance. The light is better there to fix these type of problems. Found the blown fuse but it was a "mini-blade" type. Now I carry an assortment of fuses with me, both "blade" and "bullet", but this is the first installation that has used the new "mini-blade" style and I didn't have any of those and there is nowhere in Kihei to purchase them after 7:00pm. Okay, I was just going to have to run the shift without a roof light. I've done that before. When I made this judgement, I was sent to the front of The Grand for a pu-pu run ("pupu" is the Hawaiian word for "small bite" or "tidbit" and also can mean just "small") in Wailea. Made the pickup and discovered that the meter also was non-operative. Now this is problematic. No meter is illegal. I explained the problem to my fare and showed him our meter rate chart and that I was willing to make the run if he was willing to accept using just the digital odometer readings to calculate the fare. He didn't have a problem with that and I completed the trip.
This was not a viable option for the rest of the night, though. As the fares got drunker, the problems of contested fares became more likely.
I radioed the owner and told him what was going on, but he had his own personal problems to deal with. He had been taken by ambulance to the hospital early in the morning suffering from total numbness to the left side of his face. He is diabetic and this is a warning signal of a possible stroke. He spent most of the day in emergency and was finally sent home with orders to relax. Even though he had been diagnosed as having had a TIA (basically, a mini-stroke} he still came back home and took over the dispatch and his fear of facing his inevitable mortality caused him to lash out at all the drivers for any perceived infraction of his unwritten rules. Thats his idea of relaxing.
He was pissed that ONE-NINE was not working and sent me home for the night. I called him by phone and finally calmed him down and eventually got his permission to use cab #7, our Lincoln "Towncar". Drove to the north end of Kihei to get #7 and finally was available to work. It was now past 8:00pm. By having to pull out of the rotation in Wailea, I missed a beautiful run, that would have been mine, from The Grand to the Haliimaili General Store, about a $150.00 roundtrip.
Had my second run, another pu-pu, at 8:36pm. I was making no money, very slowly. At 8:40pm the fates favored me with their cruel grin and blessed me with a run from The Grand to a residence in Wailuku. Picked up an employee of the hotel and took him to his girlfriends home. He asked me to wait while he went in to get some cash. He never came back. Stiffed on a $57.50 fare. While I was pissed at him, I was more pissed at myself. I had broken my own SOP of collecting cash "upfront" when going out of town.
It was now 9:30pm and I only had $11.80 in PAID fares. The pigeon shit was piling up on my head and shoulders, very deeply.
Since I was in central Mau'i, I went down the hill to the Wal-Mart store, in Kahului, and found their last packet of "mini-blade" fuses. I wasn't going to give up.
A couple of generations ago I attended the Police Academy. Upon graduation, I was presented the "TRUE GRIT" AWARD. This honor is bestowed by a vote of all the students and instructors in the Academy. It is given to the individual whom they felt showed the discipline of "bulldog tenacity". The person who would not quit, no matter how hard or difficult the obstacles were. If you have seen the classic John Wayne movie of the same name, then you understand the quality that was being acknowledged.
NEVER GIVE IN - NEVER GIVE UP
It was time to put that character flaw of mine to work.
Got back to Kihei, replaced the fuse in ONE-NINE and parked cab #7.
I took a long shot and went to The Grand and spoke with the MOD (manager-on-duty), explaining what had occured. While I didn't have the individual's name, nor could I give any kind of description, you seldom actually see the faces of your fares in the dark rear seat, I had learned what department he was employed in, what hours he had worked and the fact that he had recently moved here from San Jose, CA. The MOD was very understanding and signed a voucher, billing the run to the hotel. Time to get to work.
Got "into the zone" and did 9 runs from 11:45pm til 4:54am. Over $120 worth. 5 of them after 2:00am.
By the time I hooked up with Mexican Mary, my anger at her had died. I had turned a very negative situation into cold hard cash by sheer stubborness.
When I was growing up, my dad would tell me that I probably would never be the fastest, the smartest, or the strongest. But I would be the guy who wouldn't quit, no matter how much it hurt. He would never let me quit. This life lesson was drilled into my brain many times by him. Later, as a cop, I was told by my fellow deputies, that "when the shit hit the fan", I was the one they wanted coming to their aid, because nothing, absolutely nothing, would stop me.
And it never did.
And it never has.
Thanks, Dad. I miss you.
"Let's all be careful out there!"