The investigators are gonna want to pull a tube of your blood to check for intoxicants, and what are they gonna find, Alex? Do the math. You’ve been smoking PCP all day, haven’t you?
I met Cabbie Alonzo Harris bright and early for what would be an unforgettable training day in the life of a taxi driver. We left the yard and took our first call in the city of Mesa, a family going to see the doctor. From there we cruised the streets of Phoenix and Alonzo told me what not do as a taxi driver.
– Do not carry any cash in your shirt pocket. Thieves sitting behind you will say they have a weapon, or have a weapon and jack you for your money.
– Do not pick up fares from gas stations. Many of the robberies and criminal mischief originate from these locations because there is not a phone number to track the individual.
– Do not drop off unruly customers in unlit places. A taxi driver had an issue with two passengers and finally kicked them out of his cab but did so in a dark street. They ended up taking the driver out of car, beating him so badly he ended up in intensive care, and setting fire to his taxi.
– Do not return lost stuff back to a passenger’s residence. Alonzo personally, out of the kindness of his heart, returned an iPad left in his cab. When he got to the residence, the owner accused him of stealing it and pulled a gun on him. Luckily, he sped away and was not hurt.
From there, the rest of the day was routine: here’s how to use the meter, here’s how Greater Phoenix is divided into parcels, and here’s the emergency button if you are in distress.
A few uneventful hours later, a few dollars later, Alonzo asked me if I still wanted to be a cabbie.
“Damn right,” I nervously responded.
“Good, because you start tomorrow night,” he replied.
Was this really worth the risk just to promote my book I wondered.