Born in Bronx, New York city. Been living in Virginia for more than 30 years. Writing is my passion.
Taxi Driving--A new adventure.
Years ago, I decided to take in a new job. I was in and out, hopping from one job to another and decided on driving a cab. When you ask people, what do you think about being a taxi driver, you have all kinds of opinions. Some good and some bad. The fact of the matter is, I have met some really nice people who have driven cabs-full time and part- time. Not all cab drivers are shady and ready to rip you off. Believe it or not, there are some honest cab drivers out there.
I started working for Yellow Cab company. I went to a one day training class, where I was given some tips on taxi driving. Nothing elaborate, just a warning to sit and wait for a call, because if you use the cab to cruise, you get to the "poorhouse." Yellow cab company had a lease program and not a commission program. The year was 1987 and lease programs were becoming popular in the Norfolk area.
The lease program involved leasing a cab for a day. For example, you pay $50.00 for the day plus gas. Gas at that time was cheap, about a dollar and some cents, but it, still, added up. Whatever you make over $50.00 is yours, but if you don't, you owe the company money.
The commission program was, generally, splitting your profits with the company. For example, 40% is yours and in some cases, if you did good in mileage, you had an extra 4%!! Now, when you count tips, it could add up. The advantage of working commission is that the company pays for the gas! Another benefit of working commission is that if you had a slow night, you could bring the cab in and go home.
The first day I worked, I worked nights. I remember it as if it were yesterday, I put in 12 hours and all I earned was $15.00 for the day! My wife was disgusted, but I did not give up. I liked the job and saw great potential. A couple of days later, I made $60.00. I was blessed with a 1 1/2 hour trip going to Nags Head, North Carolina. The customer was a nice guy and I was happy because, at least, I had a change in the routine. It was something different and I enjoyed the countryside roads.
I, also, made some money working for the airport, but had a bad experience, when a cop gave me a ticket. I avoided the airport and started working the streets. Soon, I wasn't making much so I decided to work for the competition. I applied at Norfolk Checker cab and got interviewed by a manager who passed me through the "coals." Somehow, I must have had some favor with her because I winded up being hired.
Life in Norfolk Checker cab
When I got hired by Norfolk Checker cab, it was as if I was in another world. These people were more professional and gave attention to detail. They took me on a driving improvement course and gave me tips on proper taxicab driving. They, also, gave me a map and trained me on how to use it. To be honest, it was better than working for Yellow cab, plus they had me on a commission program.
I got back to working nights. This time, I learned where to go and wait for my calls. The worst jobs that I ever got was grocery calls. I had to put bags in my cab for the customers. Upon arriving, I had to help carry their bags, sometimes going up a flight of stairs and by the way-few tips! I remember a customer gave me a nickel tip! Yes, they added up with two dollars here and maybe 4 dollars there, but it was a pain.
Tips were, generally, good. Sometimes, working at the airport, you got some decent tips. On a slow day, the tips would get you through. Sometimes, I would get a tip for $20 or 30 dollars. You got to remember, this was more than 25 years ago and gas was cheap then. I, also, remember some stories.
I picked up this merchant marine who was drunk and going to the Naval base. Upon arriving, he tells the guard---"Arrest him, he's a communist!" Now, I got nervous. This was during the Reagan years and the evil Soviet empire. It was a good thing that the guard recognized that he was drunk. In the midst of this, he dropped a roll of dollar bills which was bundled up and into the hundreds. Since he left my cab in a mess (He was eating and left crumbs!), I returned the money minus my fee for cleaning the cab which was $5.00! So, Cab driving had its perks!
Having a Naval base in the area was an advantage.When the ships came, you could make some big time money because the base was booming with business. On Sundays, you can go to the airport and make some good money. I got some great jobs working there. There was, also, hospital jobs that hired you to take some documents or blood transfusions. Norfolk Checker had its share of regular customers, so working nights was safe or so I thought.
Taxi Cab in Times Square, New York City, NY.
A Wake up call !!
As a taxi driver, you can get so comfortable that you can lower your guard. I had some people take a cab and when it was time to pay, they would bolt out and run. There was, also, the risk of being held up at gunpoint. I had a friend who was stabbed. He survived but had surgery for hours and took a while to recover. There was, also, the risk of accidents.
When you got into an accident, the company had a deductible to which you were responsible. I, myself, got into a skid on a winter night and busted the fender on the side. For that mishap, I winded up getting about $300.00 plus deducted from me. Thank God there was no loss of life.
My wake up call came on January of 1988! I was working nights and was putting in my hours. It was a long and frustrating night with hardly any money being made. I picked up these two ladies at a grocery store. They were going to leave the cab without paying, but I stopped them. They told me that someone else was going to pay me.
I saw this individual working as if he had a limp. He asked me how much was the fare and after I answered him with the amount, he pretended to look in his pockets for the money and he took out a shiny .38. He took aim and I just stood there in shock. I thought it was a holdup but it was not. He aimed for my head and shot me. Thank God, he missed and shot me in the arm instead. He, then, tried to shoot me on the side and shattered the glass on the driver's side. Again, thank the good Lord, he missed. It was at this time that I floored the gas.Then, I called dispatch and was directed to go to a convenience store and meet a police officer.
When you are staring death face to face, your priorities change. It's one thing to see people being shot at in the movies and TV, but when you experience that, it's another thing. Being shot felt like a bee sting. The good thing is that I had a heavy coat which cushioned the blow somewhat. Blood started spurting out like a fountain and I thought it would never end. My coat winded up being stained with my blood on my right arm.
Then, came the good part. The paramedics came and a detective started asking me questions. He asked me if it was a domestic dispute and two times, I told him no. Upon going to the hospital, I found out that the bullet, narrowly, missed one of my arteries and bone. To be honest, I was, somewhat traumatized and affected.
To add to this, the newspaper practically printed my address. The news came on the TV saying that I was involved in a domestic dispute, which I was not. One of the employees got so angry that she wanted to call the TV station and set the record straight. Then, came the recovery. The company tried to help me out by giving me a job as a dispatcher and other functions, but I was not making that much money. It was a trying time for me getting over this trauma and trial but thanks to the good Lord, I managed to pull through.
The road to recovery!
Soon, I managed to overcome my fears and got back on the road as a cab driver. Then, I found out that a friend, who was a cabdriver, was held up.This incident so affected him in many ways. He suffered a nervous breakdown and his wife, who was pregnant, lost the baby. By the way, when I got shot, my wife was, also, pregnant. I managed to put that behind me and tried to encourage my fellow cab driver in his road to recovery.
It was not long, when, I made some money again. Soon, I worked making mail deliveries for Bell Atlantic and started to see progress in my finances. Afterwards, I was hired by the phone company and spent 21 yrs in my new job. Now, I am retired and doing full time ministry. I credit my faith in Jesus for having put me through such a trying time. So, do me a favor, when you get into a cab, think about that cab driver. Most cab drivers are hard-working and honest. If they do a good job, show your appreciation with a nice tip!.
Nostalgia---The Checker Cabs!
When I started driving cabs, One thing I won't forget is those old Checker cabs. They were built to last and had lots of room. I was privileged to drive one of those vehicles. For the younger generations who don't know what an old Checker cab looked like, check out my picture and videos below.
Picture of an old Checker Cab.
Remembering the old checker cabs!
montecristo on December 08, 2016:
To Rose---I am sorry for not getting in contact with you sooner. Taxi driving has changed and many are going the way of rideshare. Be informed before you go into rideshare...there are pros and cons. Taxi driving is not commissioned-based and it has changed. Now, you pay a lease and some leases can be expensive. Hope this helps.
jeff williams on October 18, 2016:
I was a cab driver in Austin tx and only one bad time for me I had fun God was with me all the time
Michael on September 11, 2016:
I drive in st.louis needed some time off got fired for that it is stressful pressure from everywhere. Alot of drivers do end up with heart attack a diabetes I am starting to think It is not worth it
rose on January 07, 2016:
I live in Cleveland Ohio, I was thinking about trying to drive a cab, I just want to know if it's worth it? Would i have to front money first in order to make and do you only make off tips or do you put that into the gas tank?
Taxi Arnhem taxivervoer from Arnhem on August 21, 2015:
Hello Very nice story I like it very much. I'm also working als taxidriver at taxi Arnhem http://www.taxi-arnhem-veluwe.nl in the Netherlands. Sometimes its really difficult with alcoholic people. But sometimes its really very busy. Then we can make big money.
ex daytona cabbie on July 30, 2014:
I've been a cab driver off and on for six years. Altogether maybe three years if you put it all together. I've been robbed with a gun once and a knife once and I have a scar to prove it. For one local company (the biggest one) you make about $50 a day for 12 hours work. with the other guys you make about $30 for 12 hours. I wouldn't recommend the latter to anyone. I'm glad to be out and hope I can stay away!
Moore on July 26, 2014:
This whole taxi business is a fraud. It is a very stressful job, a lot of nusty and rude customers which bring their own personal issues to the cabbies by yelling, raising their voice and abusing the cabbies right. The TLC is a big time fraud and a $$$$$ making machine and does not support the yellow cab drivers right. If a nusty customer does not like the driver and complains to TLC, all is the TLC is doing to offer the poor cabbie a settlement offer of certain amount of $$ or face further pushinments and threatening to revoke the cabbies liscence. It suks and this is fraud. The police, the customers, other drivers all are out there to get the cab drivers. I really feel sorry for these NYC cab drivers and the amount of garbage to put up everyday and risk their lives.
Angel Caleb Santos (author) from Hampton Roads, Virginia on June 24, 2014:
Norfolk, Va. It depends. I made some money with the airport and the Naval base. Thank you for reading my articles.
Lily Vincent on May 09, 2014:
What city were you working in when you drove taxi cabs? Do you think the location makes a big difference as to whether or not people enjoy driving taxis? Thank you for sharing your experience; you have some interesting stories.
Lily Vincent www.yellowcabskamloops.com
wahaid enterprises on April 26, 2013:
Angel Caleb Santos (author) from Hampton Roads, Virginia on October 31, 2012:
Depends. In Virginia, a couple of years back, it was free, but times do change.
russruss87 on October 31, 2012:
Hi my name is russ I have an interview tomorrow with a cab company do i need to have money down?
Rebeen on July 06, 2012:
It's totally true. The risk of working at night, the worries when u get them to their destination, the horrible stress everyday, and now the companies and commissions tearing cab drivers like you know what. I'm 32 years and drive a cab. I don't like it. It's like smoki g u can't quite that easily. But I love to quit when something comes up cause I have a little girl who's gonna need me.
Kristy Dearce on June 16, 2012:
Wow, Glory to God for getting you through that rough trying time. That's definitely an experience to share.. :)
thony on April 17, 2012:
work the kind you like.. if you like driving then taxi driving will be fun.. to add up. theres no easy work in this world
Angel Caleb Santos (author) from Hampton Roads, Virginia on February 09, 2012:
Thank you for your kind comments!
IzzyM from UK on July 02, 2011:
Everyone thinks taxi driving is an easy job with an easy way to make money, but as you have pointed it, it is one of the riskiest and most dangerous jobs in the world! Most cabbies I knew who spent 25+ years on the job ended up dying of a heart attack. It is constant stress, between driving in heavy traffic and wondering whether your passenger will actually pay you at the end of a journey, or if they will chat away nicely and then pull a gun or a knife. I stuck the job 18 years. Still got heart problems now :(
Emma from Houston TX on March 11, 2011:
Pretty nice experience you had because i think is good for every individual has to taste the sweet part of life and the bitter part for all to understand this saying which says the world is not a bed of roses.
UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on March 09, 2011:
Very interesting hub....from a fellow Tidewater person....I used to have drive from Chesapeake to the Outer Banks...everyday.....voted up