Monday, July 15, 2024
"Confessions of a Hamilton Cab Driver" by Hans Wienhold is now availabe on Amazon. Image: Amazon
Guest ContributionsLaugh a Little

Avoiding vomit: the battle of wits between Bartenders and Cab drivers

by Hans Wienholdi

Uncle Jay, whom I became friends with during the last decade of my taxi career, always referred to his taxi as a toilet because that was how the public treated them.

He told me a funny story about a mechanical issue he once had with his cab. He had been after the garage mechanic for some time to repair one of the windows in the back of the cab. It wouldn’t open. It was never fixed.

Uncle Jay Photo: Hans Wienhold

Then one night, Uncle Jay had a passenger who needed to disgorge out of the window, but couldn’t open it. So he ended up ralphing all over the interior of the cab.

Jay said it was during the hottest part of summer. That was Jay’s last trip that night.  He took his cab directly to the taxi parking lot and left it there, puke and all. It was a Friday night, so the cab sat there all weekend baking in the hot sun.

On Monday, when he picked up the cab for his regular shift, the vomit had all been cleaned up.

And the window was fixed.

Back in the halcyon days of the Hamilton taxi business, the bars were absolutely jam-packed with thirsty customers. Most bar calls were dispatched like this, “Eldorado at the Bar.”

Whenever I received one of these orders, I would park outside the bar and carry my keys in with me. The crowds were so thick you would have to force your way through to the bar.

The bartenders were extremely busy serving customers and wait staff. As long as they were busy passing dollars and drinks back and forth across the bar, they were deeply enthusiastic about their work. What they were not in the least bit interested in was the cab driver trying to get their attention.

I would often find myself maneuvering from spot to spot around that bar to catch the attention of the bartender with my jangling keys.

Eventually, they would acknowledge the cab driver. Half the time, they would point to a table somewhere in the bar. The other half of the time, they either shrugged their shoulders, indicating no knowledge of who called a cab, or, my favorite, they would say, “He’s waiting outside.”

That one really irritated me. If, indeed, the customer was waiting outside, then I would have met him there. Did the bartender seriously believe I just walked by a waiting customer? Even cab drivers aren’t that  fucking stupid.

That would have been like climbing a tree with an axe, sitting on a branch, and hacking off the branch I was sitting on.

Every now and then though, you didn’t have to go through that routine. I am embarrassed to admit how long it took me to figure this one out.

It happened one night as I approached the Britannia at Sherman and Barton. I noticed the guy wearing the black trousers and white shirt most of the staff wore in those days, eagerly waiting for me to arrive.

Then the staff would drag some absolute piss-tank to my cab. Once I became aware of that tactic, I would just drive right by the bar, pretending I wasn’t the idiot who was dispatched for that call.

*****

This story is an excerpt from Hans Wienhold’s new book “Confessions of a Hamilton Cab Driver,” available on Amazon in hardcover or paperback.

Wienhold identifies as a Welfare Recipient at Senior’s Welfare; Self-Employed; and also, a Climate Scientist at BS Detective Services.