Summer jobs often include bagging groceries, washing cars, cutting grass, etc. They can be exciting and adventurous, expose hidden talents and provide good experience.
Although these jobs may be just a way of making some extra spending money, they can change life ambitions. During one particular summer, it was nearly impossible to find jobs of any kind. All the jobs had been filled.
There was only one place of employment that had an opening for a summer job in my hometown – driving a taxi cab. Even in those days, having to drive a hundred miles from college, I was fortunate to find a job.
Although the job didn’t fit into my curriculum, it certainly produced an ample amount of spending money. It even may have exposed some hidden talents. It was a challenge – I was in a world that never was in my plans. It was like standing out in the rain bareheaded, looking in all directions for some place to run for cover.
I took the job even though I didn’t know “beans” about driving a cab, but I needed some extra money. There are two basic requirements for driving a cab: knowing the town and having a driver’s license. All I had was a driver’s license, and I thought I knew my own hometown.
Richmond Hill is close to Savannah with several taxi companies. There only were two cab companies in my hometown.
Today, looking back over the years, there may be a few differences in the profession of driving a cab, but I’d wager that there aren’t not many. There is one definite difference: The safety of the cabby is not as sound.
It’s basically a relationship between the driver, referred to as a cabby, and the person being transported, referred to as the fare. Oddly enough, I was proud to be called a cabby. I had an identity so different from my previous one. Let’s remember that there were cabbies and fares during the horse and buggy days.
I reported for duty on a Saturday morning and was assigned to a taxi cab as a substitute driver. I never met the permanent driver, who took the weekends off, but on the seat under the steering wheel is where he always left his hat. It was precisely my size and classy looking, resembling an airline pilot’s cap.
It was cab No. 2; therefore, my nickname was No. 2. I’d put on his hat and climb under the wheel.
With this cab company, there were strategic locations around town where each cab was stationed. The first advice I received from the permanent cabbies was that I should not spend my future driving a cab. Had I left my job that moment, they probably would have shed no tears.
Most cabbies were paid a percentage of the number of trips. The more fares transported, the more money earned. We cabbies were encouraged to pick up as many fares as possible. Hustling, I believe, is the better word.
Quickly leaning the art, I picked up many fares while driving around to grocery stores on a Saturday morning, looking for shoppers with full bags of groceries waiting for transportation back home.
All cabs of course, were equipped only with two-way radios. The Federal Communication Commission assigned one specific frequency to each dispatcher of both cab companies to communicate with the taxi cabs. Radios in all the cabs were tuned specifically to their company’s assigned frequency.
I sat in my cab one day, waiting for an assignment from my dispatcher. I didn’t know “beans” about radios, either, as I fumbled with the knobs on my radio.
An assignment came through to pick up a fare across town. I knew the address precisely. Naturally, I assumed it was from my dispatcher, but I quickly realized I received the assignment on a different frequency and it was intended for the driver of the other cab company.
Quickly spinning away from my location, I notified my dispatcher and was on my way. In no time flat, I was at that address, picking up the fare. The fare, of course, being ignorant of the situation, only was interested in going from point A to point B. The intended cabby arrived at the scene as I was leaving with his fare.
Today, as I think about it, how could I have done such things? It was unethical and a downright dishonest act on my part, but it certainly was an asset.
However, at the time, being completely unaware of regulations and such tactics, it never mattered. To me, it was fun and just a matter of business.
One thing is for sure. The permanent cabby of cab No. 2 must have known about this feature. All I did was discover it.
There never was a dull moment – this was only one event that occurred.
And so, I brought all this to a halt, collected my earnings and went back to school.
Bond lives in Richmond Hill. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.