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Friday, February 22, 2008


thanks, DB

The Grand Wailea has a non-disclosure agreement that all its employees are required to sign. When I made a post about Oprah being here in June of '06, before Larry bought the cab company, the management at the Grand went ballistic. Problem for them was that I wasn't an employee of the Grand Wailea and not even an employee of Royal Sedan and Taxi Service. I was an independent contractor leasing a cab from Royal. Art Pidot, the old owner, had ignored the Grand and only once gave me a hard time about this blog. As soon as Larry took over, the pressure mounted to force me to stop writing. At least once a month I would be told that he would be a lot happier if my blog didn't exist. Not so veiled threats to stop or lose my lease. Obviously, he didn't get his way but I did my best to compromise. I removed the ad I had placed for Royal Cab in the sidebar and also refrained from mentioning the Grand, by name, in the blog. Instead, I would still talk about the fares and only mention that the pick-up or drop-off was "in Wailea". I referred to all the other resorts, by name, just not the Grand.

The "brains" of the company are held by his wife, Darcy. A very sweet lady who understands business. Larry is just an overgrown kid, albeit 50+ years old, who is subject to the stereotype of being a California car lover. His greatest concern was what type of wheel covers a vehicle had or how ugly a cab's color was. Ask for something to be repaired and it was next to impossible to get it done, because it wasn't high on his priority list. He moved to Mau'i with the idea that all would be "fun'n'games".

As time passed, the other drivers were being hyper-critical but I would try and explain that Larry was still thinking "mainland" styl e. Which, as my long-time readers know, just doesn't work here. That eventually he would come around as the island's way of business finally beat him over the head often enough.

I finally gave up the night I went by his home to drop off my trip sheets and money. Spoke with Darcy first and then Larry appeared. Enveloped in a blue haze of marijuana. Totally stoned. The odor waifing from him so strong that I thought that I would get a contact high from the proximity. Thats when other actions on his part began to make sense. Conversations that he couldn't keep pace with. Failure to follow up on requests by drivers. Multiple requests to fix things like brakes and transmissions being delayed for months. Radios that needed attention.

He also had a problem with keeping internal affairs to himself.

We had an incident where one driver, "Lucky", used the "N" word to a regular customer when referring to another driver. While offensive, it isn't illegal. That customer told Maui Jim, the driver that "Lucky" had spoken about, what was said. All shit hit the fan. And Larry talked to damn near every driver about what he should do. Unable to make a decision on his own. Definitely "leadership" material.

Right after taking over Larry made the statement that any driver who received a speeding ticket for more than 20 MPH would be released. Just recently, he was nailed for 73 MPH in a 40 MPH zone. This is going to cost him. 30+ over the limit is a mandatory loss of license, 2 days in jail and a very hefty fine. Like most pot heads, he has trouble dealing with reality and accepting responsibility for his actions. And is probably a scary ride as well. Would you want to ride with a pot-head?

Drug testing is not a license requirement for a taxicab drivers permit on Mau'i. Probably because 30-40% of the people who live here are stoners. Which is just about the same percentage as the drivers I have met, in Royal and other companies. Or they are functioning alcoholics. Doesn't that make you feel safe? A few years back, I actually had the owner of another, now defunct, cab company arrested (and convicted) twice for DUI in a 6-month period. Call me crazy, but I think the public has the right to expect their cab driver to be more sober than the passengers.

Cannabis use also causes short-term memory loss. Not just while its being consumed but, especially with habitual users, even when they consider themselves straight. Maybe the Grand should require drug testing of the drivers provided by contract. They already require it of their hired staff. That would rock a lot of people.

So, what am I going to do? Well, I called another driver, who used to work for Royal, and the company he is with now has some cabs available for lease. $40 a day / $280 a week and I would buy my own gas. I would also have the cab 24/7 and could set my own hours. I am not saying it is going to be easy but being forced to cover the Grand when there was no business wasn't making sense either. Being totally independent means I can go to where the business is on the island. Working the "hot" spots and being able to go home when there is no activity. I am looking forward to the change.

So, bear with me as I make the transition, but the quality of the stories should improve as my client base increases.

I'll be back tomorrow, if only to just say "Hi". See you then.

Oh, if you want to send Larry Payne an e-mail, just click

Or, you can contact the Grand Wailea by clicking here.





Over The Limit?
Please don't drink and drive

"Let's all be careful out there!"