That was the worst run of the night and it really wasn't that bad. He flagged me just outside of Sansei, the really good "sushi bar". Took him to the far north end of Kihei. The poor kid was stonecold sober. He had been at the "Triangle" and had run into his ex-girlfriend. She had really been packing away the booze. They chatted and then she unexpectedly puked all over him. Classic "projectile' mode. He had done a pretty decent job of cleaning himself up in the restroom but, lets face it, until his clothes are laundered, THAT smell isn't going away. We made the 4 mile trip with the windows down. I was amazed at how calm he was. Never a sign or word of anger. The "ex" tried calling him during the ride and all he did was look at the screen and say "Thats her". He didn't take the call. Left the windows down as I headed back to the "Triangle" and then gave the interior a brief spritz of Fabreze. That shit really works good!
When I picked up ONE-NINE, the dispatch phone was on the front seat. Somebody was playing games. Some radio traffic and phone calls resolved the issue and I dumped the phone to Hardin about an hour later. Just after I had received a call from The Prince, down in Makena, for a 4-pax going to The Hyatt, in Ka'anapali. A nice $100+ run. Also a nice first run for the shift.
It was two Chinese couples, probably in their mid-twenty's. They spoke in Chinese, very up beat, elated and lots of laughter. About a third of the way through the trip I asked what language they were speaking.
"Chinese." Said the lady in the rear center, in absolutely perfect "American".
"Yes, but is it Mandarin or Cantonese?"
"Which one do you think it is?"
"Mandarin. Cantonese tends to have more rising inflections at the end of the words."
"You are right. How do you know that? Mandarin has 4 inflections and Cantonese has 7."
"Well, I have passengers from all over the world. I try to guess what language they are speaking. I seem to be able to differentiate subtle differences in enunciations. Its just a game I play."
She then spoke to me in a few languages that were not Mandarin.
"What did I just say?"
"Ma'am, I have no idea."
"Okay. What languages do you think I spoke in?"
"French, German, and some language from the middle east. I have trouble distinquishing the differences between Hebrew, Farsi and Arabic. My guess would be Arabic."
"And you don't speak any language other than English?"
"You got every one right. You do have a good ear."
"Thanks. Too bad my brain didn't come with that 'upgrade' to comprehend languages. I have learned how to get my face slapped in over 20 languages, so far, though."
She laughed and translated what I had said to the others and soon the car was roaring with laughter. She was smart. She could speak 12 different languages without an accent and could "get by" in 6 more. She translated a whole slew of questions from the others and my responses. They asked the same general questions that tourists from everywhere do.
"You are a very professional driver" was their parting comment. Gave me $106 on a $103.40 fare. Oh, well. It WAS a fun ride and now we have another country to teach the fine art of "tipping" to.
After I returned, I picked up four more fares between then and "bar close". What had started out as a fantastic night turned very sour. 2:00am and only 5 runs. The others logged off for the night and then the phone went crazy. From 2:00am to 5:00am I covered 9 more fares. And that doesn't count two "10-13's" (no show-no load). Metered out in the low-middle $200 range. What a flip-flop that was.
The new owners of Royal Cab. Larry & Darcy, are gaining hands-on experience with the way "business" is done on Mau'i. What are simple chores on the mainland become very frustrating and laborious here. They want to have the company phone transferred from the old owner's (Art) house to theirs. They are still waiting after two weeks. Same with the dedicated line for their fax machine. "Yeah, we do soon, maybe" is the usual response from HawaiianTelCom. My frustration with the various predecessors to the current company is why I only use a cell phone. It is interesting, though, that if you have an existing, working, line, that they can add new features, which costs you more-per-month, almost before you can hang up your phone after making the change order. I used to live in Larry & Darcy's house before it was sold to a speculator. I know for a fact that there are at least 7 line connections there. I used to have two of them. One for my dial-up connection and one for the voice line. When the local cable-tv company added Road Runner to their service, I severed my use of the phone company, forever.
I wish there was some way to convey to Larry & Darcy that they will look back on this as the least of their problems in adjusting to Mau'i.
Oh, I also spoke to the new night driver and expressed my concerns about the suspicious nature of his activities. At this point, I will accept his answers. He seems as a nice enough guy and, if he is pulling any shenanigans, he now knows that I am alert to it. Everyone deserves the chance to prove themselves.
I also had a brief chat with Larry about dispatching. I feel for him. He doesn't know the lay of the land and you can guess how hard it must be to not only be able to learn the location of all the streets and business, but to basically learn how to pronounce and understand the Hawai'ian street names. To an untrained ear, it all sounds the same. I could hear his jaw drop when he learned that I never write anything down when I am dispatching. I can't. Its dark, I am in a moving vehicle driving down narrow streets where everybody believes that "jaywalking" is their God given right. So, either file data into my (very) short term memory or keep stopping to write stuff down, and that doesn't make your current passengers very pleased. I am an extremely adroit "multi-tasker" and my nightly goal is to make my radio and telephone traffic seem tranquil. Even if my brain is working in overdrive. Of course, that is why I am so exhausted after my Friday night shift. Which is typically the busiest night of the week. The only night I am not capable of dispatching is New Year's Eve. The volume of calls on that night are beyond comprehension. I did it one time, my first year with Royal, and I will NEVER(!!) do it again.
I hope everyone has enjoyed this Palm Sunday and that any of the "April Fool" jokes played on you weren't too cruel.
Stop back by tomorrow, if you can. I really enjoy your company.
THE PICTURE GALLERY
"Let's all be careful out there!"