Most of the fares you pick up when driving a cab are just people trying to get from one place to another. They pay and sometimes even tip. There are times that you end up having people that are not safe for one reason or another try to get into your cab or do actually get inside. The more experienced you get and the more you talk with other drivers, you learn what to look out for in the night. However, there are times someone gets in and things go awry. These days I never allow things to escalate. Problems need to be nipped in the bud immediately. When I was still new at this, I was easily scared. This is about a night I let things go too far.
One night, I was called to pick up someone from a townhouse complex and take him to another residence a few miles away. I picked him up on a cold December night. The actual temp was below zero, the wind chill was even worse. He swaggered out wearing just a carhardt jacket.
He seemed quite drunk and ready to go home. This late at night when the customer has no prior history with the cab company, you get cash upfront. On the way he wanted to stop at a corner store for some snack food and a water bottle. He gave me a few more dollars and went inside while I waited.
When he came out he asked me what time it was. I told him it was about 1:30. He asked me how long it would take to go to another town that was further away that we normally drive. I looked it up on my GPS and told him that would be an additional $75 on top of what we already had on the meter. He handed me the money in cash and asked me if we could go there and I could drop him off at his girlfriend's house. I checked with dispatch and they said I could take him.
The ride was mostly quiet. About 20 minutes into it he told me something I did not expect.
"You're taking me back, right?"
"We never discussed a round trip. I can get you back, but I am going to need more money for a round trip."
"No. You have to go back anyway. You will just take me back too. Ain't no one gotta know."
Deciding to revisit this whole payment issue later I switched gears a little.
"Well, how long will you be at your girlfriend's?"
"She's my EX girlfriend. As long as it takes for me to f--- her up."
"What?!?!?" I exclaimed.
"Look," he explained,"surprise is the best weapon in the world. If people don't see it coming, you win. She moved to get away from me. She's got some other guy now. He might even be over there. I'm just gonna kick in, do what I gotta go and you take me back."
"Hey, man," I countered. "Ya wanna stop for coffee? I'll pause the meter, I'll buy. We can talk about this."
"I ain't talking to you until I know we're cool!"
I started to reach for the radio to call for police assistance.
"Don't. You'll get hurt. Just do what I say."
I put my hand down. Most people would not assault a cab driver in a moving vehicle, but now I was beginning to wonder if he was high too.
"All right. Cool. We get you to her place. You are in and out. Do what ya gotta do and then we go home. Got it." I made my tone pleasant.
He seemed doubtful. So I continued acting while trying to think of something.
"So what did that c--- do to you?"
He went on to tell me all about their relationship. We were getting closer to her house and he was getting more confident. 4 miles. 3 miles. 2 miles. 1 mile. Half a mile.
"What did you say was important?" I asked.
"Surprise, man. Surprise is EVERY-THING!" He was trying to teach me now.
"Okay. Lets do a drive by first."
We circled around the house. I saw flood lights with a motion sensor in the drive way. So did he.
"Okay," he whispered,"turn out the lights and cut off the ignition a few doors down. I don't want her to see the cab. I'll be back in five minutes."
I nodded and he slinked out.
Now I was safe and could get my radio. What about her?
I turned on the ignition and turned on the brights as I drove into her driveway triggering the flood lights. The whole yard lit up as I slammed on the horn. She looked outside and saw him. She was reaching for her cell phone as other lights on the quiet suburban block were turning on. He was heading towards my cab. I screamed surprise at him and drove off while telling dispatch what has happened on the radio.
A few minutes later as I am almost to the highway again, dispatch gets on the radio with me.
"Your last fare called and demanded you come back."
I asked what she told him.
"I told him he could have gotten a ride had he been willing to pay for one and had not threatened you or talked about beating up a girl."
I asked if he got inside.
"No, he was definitely outside. Sounded cold."