Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Hans Wienhold, in his glory days as a Hamilton cab driver. Photo: Hans Wienhold
Guest ContributionsLaugh a LittleOpinion/ColumnTaxi industry news

Bad news, good news and revenge

by Hans Wienhold

The Black Stallion was a bar on James St. N. We all hated being sent there for fares, partly because there was nowhere to park adjacent to the bar. Drivers would have to maneuver into a “no stopping” zone, if there was room, or double park and block a lane of traffic in order to go into the bar, and walk up to the second floor, to extract whatever $2 fare was waiting.

One afternoon, Gerard, master of deadpan humor, was dispatching. Ed Findlay was making one in 4 office.

Gerard: 4 office. <click>

Ed: six seven <click>

Gerard: Black Stallion at the bar. <click>

Ed: roger. <click>

Every time Ed got the Black Stallion, he would curse and spit. He HATED servicing that bar more than most of us.

About thirty seconds after he left the sub, Gerard came back on.

Gerard: six seven?

Ed: six seven.

Gerard: I’ve got bad news for you.

Ed: If you’re calling to tell me I am canceled at the Black Stallion, that’s not bad news.

Without skipping a beat,

Gerard: six seven, I’ve got good news for you.

Revenge is Sweet

One Sunday evening, I picked up a couple from a triplex on Victoria Ave. S. (In those days, “a couple” referred to a man and a woman.)

The guy directed me to take them to Shuffles on Parkdale Ave. N. When I pulled into the Shuffles lot, it turned out the bar was closed. The meter read exactly ten dollars. The guy  then revised his instructions.

“Turn the meter off and take us to Bogey’s,” which was a bar a block or two away on Queenston Rd. I left the meter on and proceeded to Bogey’s. The meter had ticked up another fifty cents. I could have been very Canadian about this and just let it go, but it was the principle of the thing that irked me. By what standard of fairness did this person feel he could unilaterally dictate the terms of the ride?

When I pulled up to Bogey’s he threw a ten-dollar bill over the seat and proceeded to exit the vehicle. I also exited the vehicle to demand that he pay the remainder of the fare. He glared at me defiantly and said, “Call a cop!”

In other words, “Fuck you buddy. If you want your fifty cents, you will have to fight me for it.”

“Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’”

-Clint Eastwood

Under no circumstances would I engage in a fist fight over fifty cents, so I left. But I was still a little hot under the collar when I picked up my next fare. Two ladies were going to the bingo at Battlefield Mall on Queenston Road.

I commented on how pleasant it was to have some nice people in the cab, especially compared to the last trip. They asked me for details, and I told them. One of them kicked a bag they found on the back seat floor. Then she said, “Oh, and it looks like they left some garbage on the floor.”

“That’s typical,” I said.

Then she exclaimed, “Wait. It’s not garbage. There is a six-pack of beer in the bag.”

My anger turned into instant joy.

Half an hour or so later, the dispatcher, Jimmy Stokoe, came on the air calling my number. When I responded, he asked me if I found any beer in the car from that pickup at Victoria Ave. Without even pretending to look, I piped up and replied, “Nope. No beer here.”

Then I sent a telepathic message to the guy who stiffed me for that fifty cents.

“Call a cop.”

*****

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.