Heading down the interstate towards downtown, she starts talking on her cell phone. She seems to be arguing more then anything. I have often noticed that people who live marginal lives seem to exhibit a lot of frustration, and of course, poor communication skills. Even after many years of driving a hack, iI've never gotten used to shit people. I find it amazing how much people will talk about their personal lives in front of a total stranger. I guess that is the point. We are invisible. We don’t really exist. We are nobody to them.
We pull up to the Greyhound Bus station and there is nowhere to park. There never is anywhere to park. The front spots are reserved for taxis and they are always taken. The bus station is located on Cass Street. That used to be a cable car street back in the day. It also has train tracks running down the middle headed for the dock area. I am left with now choice. I park next to the first out taxi and pop the trunk.
This is the point when the fare will usually pay you, or get out and help unload the luggage. She did none of this. She took off and went inside the bus terminal. That left me with the task of unloading her stuff onto the sidewalk. Much of the stuff was in boxes and many items were loose. She had hair dryers, makeup cases, and all kinds of junk. It took several trips back and forth to do this.
She still had not come out. I now had to go find her. That meant I had to leave my taxi in the street and all her shit on the curb. I was not comfortable with this and was wondering why I need to do all this just to make a living. You would think driving a cab would just be taking people were they want to go, and that would be it. This job is not for everyone.
I find her not at the ticket counter but at the pay lockers that most bus stations have. She was yanking more shit out of there. Come on, this is getting ridiculous. She turns around and gives me twelve dollars. She was not aware that the meter continues to run as I continue to do more work. I will let it run all day as long as I am engaged in the ride. The meter had twelve bucks on it when she got out - but not now. That did not even cover the load time on the front end. This ride had now become a pain in the ass.
I started walking back to the front door too get here stuff and I saw him. It was one of the ‘cabbie cops’ from the Hillsborough County Transportation Commission. He was looking for the driver of the taxi that was double-parked out front. That would be me.
He demanded to see my hack permit and my drivers’ license and started yelling at me about leaving my cab on the street and blocking traffic. I tried to explain to him the circumstances but he would have nothing to do with it. The fact that there was no room to park meant noting to him. I asked him if he wants customers unconvinced by parking on the side of the building (which would now block bus access) and having the fare schlep their stuff. He said he had a better idea.
He said to park on the railroad tracks in the middle of the street. There was no way I was going to ask him the obvious question about what would happen if a train came by.
He went back to his ‘squad car.’ That is what gets me, the only people they police are the taxi guys, but they wear Rambo gear and carry side arms Is that really necessary? I swear to God, the only reason they exist is to shake down cab drivers who just trying to make a living.
He came back over to me and had me sign my $75 ticket, which gave me two weeks to pay. The TPC prides it self as not taking any tax payer money to survive, they do it all on the fees they charge drivers. This was just a fucked up way for them to raise money off my back.
While all of this was going on, the chick had finally gotten her stuff off the sidewalk. I got back into the taxi and there was now way over twenty bucks on the meter. Big deal now. I now had a long way to go to make up for this stupid ticket.