How To Live Through Being A Cab Driver
A lot of people talk about their professions. I rarely talk about mine, even though there have been about a million of them, or so it seems.
For a while, maybe about six months, I worked as a taxi driver. This was back in the late 1990s, and there were maybe three or four other females and at least a hundred guys. It was fun. It was pretty lucrative. It was also very dangerous.
Although I was in my late twenties and thought I was invincible, bad things do happen to cab drivers. I once had a fare get the crap beaten out of him in my cab because he crossed a drug dealer. In fact, I quit driving because there was a taxi driver who was killed and robbed of maybe twelve dollars. His body was left in his cab under a bridge in the city. I didn't want that to be me.
I also worked as an office manager for a cab company in a much smaller city. I was at that job for over seven years and, believe me, I think I've heard it all.
If you are a cab driver or thinking about becoming one, I have some tips on how to make it out alive.
Learn Everything You Can Before Becoming A Cab Driver
How To Make Driving A Cab Safe And Easy
- The first one is a no-brainer. Know how to drive. You would not take this job if you knew how many cab drivers get hurt every day in accidents that they caused. This isn't because they are unsafe drivers, but rather that they are on the road more often than the average motorist. Also, know the local traffic rules and regulations. "I didn't know" will not get you out of a traffic ticket.
- Unless it is impossible, do not let anyone ride in the front seat of your car. The last place I worked, we could only carry as many passengers as we had seat belts for, but I never knew a driver who would let a party of less than four having anybody ride up front. Not only do they have better access to you, they can also take control of your car.
- You know that driving while talking on a cell phone is bad. But talking on your mobile when you're driving a cab can get you killed. Bad guys like it when you're distracted and will take the soonest available opportunity to do something bad to you.
- Get a good, long look at everyone who gets in your cab. Notice anything that you can use to identify them if you have a problem. Pay attention to their clothing, hair color and style and any identifying marks like tattoos. Distinguish race, age, height and weight if you can.
- If you are uncomfortable with picking someone up, don't. Good cab drivers have great intuition. If a situation makes you uneasy, avoid it. This includes people as well as areas.
- If you are prone to any kind of anxiety, skip the late shift. I'm not trying to make you feel bad, but if there is someone in your back seat who wants to do bad things to you, he might be more inclined to do it if you are acting strangely. And I don't have to tell you that most of those bad guys strike at night.
- If someone pulls a gun or knife on you demanding your money, give it to them. My guess is that your life is worth way more than whatever you might have in your pocket. One that note, only keep change money, maybe enough to break a twenty, where any of your passengers can see it. Keep the rest of your stash somewhere that they might not readily look for it. I used to keep mine in a ziploc bag in my sock, no kidding. That way, if you are robbed, they will only get $20 bucks or so. Let no one see where you put your "main stash," not even your buddies. If you can, stop at home regularly and drop off any cash that you don't need.
- When you are taking an unfamiliar customer out of town or on some other long trip, there are three things you should do. One, get the money up front. If you don't know how much the fare will be, quote them a price or get it from a dispatcher. Next, drop off their payment at your home or with a friend or anywhere you can safely do it, and make sure that your customer knows you are doing this and have no other cash on you. Lastly, always make sure that your dispatcher or someone else knows exactly where you are going. Try to stay in touch either by radio or cell phone whenever you can.
- Some drivers like to carry weapons. If you do this, make sure to check with your local police precinct to find out what, if any, weapons are allowed in taxis. Some localities will make you get a "carry" permit, or whatever they call licenses to carry concealed weapons in your area. If you do carry a gun, you better make sure you are levelheaded enough and well trained in how to use the firearm. There's no use in having one if all you are going to do is shoot off your foot at the first sign of trouble.
- If your locality does not require cab drivers to wear seat belts (some classify us as delivery drivers and do not require the devices), know when to take yours off. Even if they do require them and you feel like you are in a threatening situation, take it off. If you are caught in a situation where you may have to get out of your car in a hurry and run for it, that belt could cost you your life.
- Do not ever, under any circumstances, get into any kind of argument with a customer. Even if it's a little old lady and you're arguing over an eleven cent difference in the fare as opposed to a different driver. You never know if that little old lady is a complete psycho and/or packing a gun. If you have an issue, call your dispatcher or, if you have to, the police.
- Before you even get out on the road, develop a code system with your dispatcher. Some companies already have them in place. Maybe "Hey, I'm thinking about stopping for a cherry Slurpee, you want one?" could really stand for "There's a dude in my car and he's high on something and I'm scared." At which point your dispatcher might ask you where you're headed, maybe in the guise of figuring out which 7-11 is closest to your drop, so that he or she will know exactly where you are or are ending up. You may have code for "send the police" or "this guy has a gun." Just do not act nervous or let the people in the car in on how worried you are.
Now, I don't meant to scare you off from becoming a cab driver. Like I said, it can be a great job and you can make a lot of fast cash at it. But not everybody is cut out for it. Not everybody has nerves of steel, which is really what the business takes.
Just listen to what I've said and be safe out there. Besides, you never know when I'll need a ride!