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Sunday, November 12, 2006



Gas dropped another penny. Seems strange, though, that the last time crude oil was this cheap, we were only paying $2.869, or so. One part of the cost difference is the State Of Hawai'i added the 4.167% General Excise Tax (Sales Tax in other parts of the country) to gasoline sales. Anybody have any ideas?

The third really good night in a row. I did meter the lowest of the three days but last night was also a very profitable night.

The start of the shift belied how the night was going to go. For the first couple of hours I was stuck in Wailea. Often the only cab there. I was getting a pu-pu run about every 30 minutes, while the other cabs in the queue were snagging fares to Lahaina or the airport (OGG).

At 2100 hrs (9:00pm), the Fates blessed me with their smiles. My own OGG. It was a rather different trip. I had two businessmen, one from Hong Kong and the other from Texas. They were in the steel business. Each was on their cell phone. One was connected to Hong Kong, the other to London. Both were on "speaker" and the people in Hong Kong and London were also directly connected with each other. Speaking their unique "tech-talk" left me in the dark about major portions of the conversation but it definitely involved sales and production schedules. I was front row center to a graphic example of a multi-national corporation in operation. While there were definite disagreements, there were no histrionics. Compromises were agreed on and unresolved matters were tabled for further discussion.

They had asked me to turn off my radio (2-way) so it would not interfere with their business. Not a problem. Of course, then "Prof. Kevin", last night's driver/dispatcher, called wanting to know the names of my passengers. He thought that they may have been the scheduled 9:30pm reservation (they weren't). I told him that there was no way I was going to interrupt that conversation. After refusing three times, I just hung up on him. I'll talk more about the "Professor" someday. When he pisses me totally off.

Of my 22 fares, that was the only one that left town.

The strangest events of the night occurred during a bar close run. Two Tongans, one unknown to me and the other a regular that we refer to as "Uncle". Other than the laughing and constant repetition of the phrase "Okay, brah", no one has ever heard him speak english. We were headed north on the high road, when the unknown guy, seated directly behind me, kept pulling back on the upright portion of my seat. I told him to "Stop!" and he slammed his fist down on my headrest, causing it to retract into the seat. I shoved it back up and he hit it down again. I brought ONE-NINE to a dead stop, from 50 mph, in about 3 seconds, I love ABS, turned around and very, very, firmly advised him that he was misbehaving and being rude. If he did not behave he would have to get out and walk home. No, I didn't swear or raise my voice. That doesn't work on Tongans. By their cultures code, swearing and raising the voice is a challenge to fight, which cannot be ignored. However, speaking as if a parent to a child, while reprimanding, establishes dominance and displeasure. This is not an insult to the individual.

This is an example of a cultural difference that must be learned to survive as an "outsider" in the islands. This is also why most transplants to Hawai'i seldom last a year in the islands. With few exceptions, most mainlanders have been ingrained with the concept of interpersonal contact as being one's normal, aggressive self. It is frowned upon in other 1st World countries. Barely tolerated in 2nd World nations and, in 3rd World countries, is an abomination of all social conduct. And we wonder why people don't like us.

After I dropped the "unknown", I was almost to "Uncle's" house when a car, crossing the intersection in front of me, slammed on its brakes, skidding through the "T-junction" (I had the STOP sign, he didn't). While skidding, the driver cranked the wheels to the left and the car came this "-" far from overturning. After the vehicle was back on 4 wheels, he continued turning left until he could head up the road, past me. Basically, a 270 degree "right" turn. He accelerated hard and drove over the curb onto a small grassy knoll bordering an apartment complex. Wheels spinning, he finally made it back onto the pavement and headed the direction I had come from.

The windows were tinted and I couldn't tell the sex nor age of the driver. But experience says it was probably an intoxicated male between 16 and 22 years of age. He did have passengers, I could see their silhouettes as they passed.

All "Uncle" did was point at them and say "Okay, brah."


"Let's all be careful out there!"