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Saturday, April 14, 2007



One of the nice things about the change in management where Judy works is that she is now getting "benefits". One of these is that she gets a paid day-off for her birthday. Since her birthday is today, she decided to exercise her option yesterday.

When I asked the above question and got her response, I knew the "cat was out of the bag". Told her what to expect when she got to work on Monday. She was delighted. We were chatting on the phone and I could hear her expression change from tired to joy. Now that I think about it, that really makes the gift twice as good. She'll be elated twice by one little gesture.

Thanks all for sending a message to her. I figure she'll get between 20-50 e-mails.

Since she won't get to read them until Monday, anyone else wanting to drop her a line can do so here.

Last night struggled to get started.

Logged on at exactly 7:00pm and had the phone by 7:02pm. Most of the drivers were on runs and it was just a simple matter of catching up on their whereabouts. Started with 8 cabs, which shortly became 6 as the 2 day-shift holdovers threw in the towel, due to lack of significant activity. Of the 6 of us assigned to work, we just sat, with an occasional "pu-pu". Tina (#5) fielded the only OGG we had last night. After how bad it was for her on Thursday, I was happy. She is a great cabbie. I'll miss her if she ever leaves and, eventually, everyone does leave. Kimo is our most senior driver and has been with Royal for 11 or 12 years. I am 4th in seniority and am in my 6th year. The drivers between us have, maybe, one year over me. Maui Jim is just a couple of months behind me and then we jump to the next group with 2 years or less. We have also hired on some other new ones this year.

The hardest thing to teach the gnubees is to actually use the two-way radio and use it properly. When most of a driver's income is via radio dispatch, you would think that they would understand this. Unfortunately, they forget to call in their pick-ups, drop-offs and positional status checks. A dispatcher can't preplan if he has no idea where and what a cab is doing.

I have a way of dealing with this. I will remind a driver about the procedure a maximum of three times. Which seems fair. If the bad habit continues, I just ignore the fact that they even exist until they ask why they are being by-passed on runs. This typically suffices. Eventually, usually after driving for a month, every night driver has to shoulder their load of the phone duty. Since this is an unpaid function, its not fair to let just a few do it. Dispatching also helps a driver learn where all the streets are, why proper radio procedure is so vital and how hard it is translating "tourist speak", pidgin and heavy (very heavy) Asian accents. The learning curve isn't that steep but it does have to be mastered.

We really didn't start moving until 9:30pm. Most of the traffic was inbound bar runs. There were the occasional Wailea "pu-pu" runs from various hotels to Mulligans-on-the-Blue. A lot of the hotels have some "hot-shot" sales groups on award trips, with a smattering of business thrown in for the tax write-off. Usually in their early 30's, they think they have the world at their feet. Sadly, quite a few will have had the globe roll over them within the next 5 years.

We were never swamped. The calls were easily manageable and there never was a moment when I got backed up on calls. Every one was covered within 10 minutes, and the majority had 5 minute or less response time. That makes for a pleasant night.


Gas prices went up again yesterday. This really hurts the cab business. On the mainland, the oil companies say this late spring price adjustment is due to them having to make more gas to stockpile for the coming summer travel season. I don't believe it but I'll live with that reasoning. The problem I have with it here in Hawai'i is that all of our gasoline is refined on O'ahu and the volume of sales stays pretty steady. I can't think of one person who ever drove their car to Hawai'i for their vacation. True, population growth does increase the demand each year but that is a pretty stable curve. We don't have the seasonal variations that the mainland has. The oil company's rationale for stockpiling fuel oil in the Fall for the approaching Winter doesn't hold water in Hawai'i. We have no heaters (of any kind) in the vast majority of the homes and all the fuel oil and bunker oil is needed for industrial/maritime usage. This demand is very stable, year round. The biggest refiner is Chevron (Standard Oil of California), Hawai'i. The Hawai'i operation is just 10% of all of Chevron's business yet produces 25% of the Corporate "bottom line". That's not very kosher.

After listening to the news, I am hoping some of you are considering a little "R&R" on Mau'i soon. Spring snowfalls, tornadoes, and a blasting cold wave this late in the year might just give you that little nudge to take the leap.

Sunday, April 15th, marks the unofficial end of our "Winter Tourist Season" and also "Whale Season". From then until June 15th things are going to really slow down (oh, gawd!). We start seeing the summer vacationers about then. Though they really don't arrive "in force" until the Fourth of July. If we follow history, we should stay very busy from then until Labor Day (September 3rd). The way our "High Winter Season" went, I am not holding my breath.


Thanks for dropping over.

See ya tomorrow. God willing and the creek don't rise.





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