Month: July 2014

Moving on Up!

In 2001 I stopped working as a Manager at Convergys, which was a contact center with 2000 employees in Winnipeg. After the tragedy on 9/11 in New York I decided to resign and started driving a taxi for a friend.

The owner of the company needed a Dispatcher so he suggested that I drive weekends and dispatch for him during the week. Done. After a couple years my friend left the taxi business to drive a truck (and moved to Quebec).

What happened next was that I was hired full time as the night Manager/Dispatcher. We started building this taxi company and by 2005 we nearly doubled the size of the fleet.

It was suggested that I move across the street from the taxi company into the Hotel. I was now on call from 5pm to 7am and had to be nearby in case of emergency.

So, on my 50th birthday I moved into this hotel, subsidized by the company. I started a new life experience. Now, living in a hotel has its pros and cons. This place had a wild bar, restaurant with good food and only 5 monthly tenants, mostly hotel staff.

Since I worked nights, I aways missed the drinking and drug parties. I also missed the fights and arguments that happened at bar closing time. I slept the day away, and for a single man, the space was adequate and fully equipped.

Over the last 8.5 years the hotel has been sold three times. Now on it’s 4th owner, more changes are coming. The bar is being converted to a Gentleman’s Club. The bar will feature non-stop strippers and a few rooms have been set aside to be rented by the hour

Although I can remain here, the cost has increased. I’m on a disability pension and no longer work. Why live in what will surely become a strip joint/brothel?

I got lucky. A friend of mine called me and suggested I apply at his apartment block because an opening was coming on September 1. That block is exactly in the suburb I grew up in and is located next door to everything. This 55 plus block is subsidized and because of my age and disability, I qualify. I raced to the block tò check out the suite at the top and went to fill the application. Thanks to connections to the blocks owners I was able to secure approval for September 1 possession!

My rent will drop to less than half of what it costs me in this hotel. Finally after 9 years of core city living. I’m moving on up to the 8th floor!

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MH17

Even though this blog is a collection of life stories, the madness in the Ukraine and in the Gaza Strip has me upset enough to deviate, slightly, this week.

The Gaza and Hamas are active missions that require no further comment at this time.

My focus today is Russia and the Ukraine. How in heavens name can either country allow an indignity of abuse to the dead as these countries have?

After 3 days in a field, they toss the recovered bodies into refrigerated cars but they don’t claim that the refrigeration is working.

The rebels continue to collect body parts including the odd body that has been laying in the sun for days. What kind of people are they?

I would call them animals. Finally, the recovered black boxes have been turned over to the Malaysia authorities. Meanwhile, the hunt for bodies continues not for dignity, but for credit cards, valuables, and whatever else those animals can grab. This has become a treasure hunt. The inspectors, meanwhile, wait for the all clear to begin the investigation and the train has left with the bodies.

No international country has rushed to the assistance of Malaysia. The world’s power has only rhetoric to offer. A LOT of talk. No action.

Now let me make it clear: Most international airlines do not fly that route. The Captain’s have the final say and will never fly a passenger jet over a war zone at any altitude. Malaysia followed the ICAO directives that do not include that war zone. ICAO has changed since then.

One had to wonder why Putin claims no responsibility even though his military supplied the rebels with a missile launcher. No matter who shot it down – Ukraine or Russia – it’s their responsibility to seal the crash scene and safely admit the inspectors and recovery staff. Both countries have acted like animals and irresponsible children. The world watches in horror turns of the TV and goes to a protest about Gaza and Israel. The world powers hold another news conference.

 

Pic: Mashable

Pic: Mashable

Out of the Bush

When you drive a taxi, every fare can turn into an adventure. This is a true story of a taxi fare with a sense of adventure.

Back in October of 1994 I was driving a night shift. At about 7pm, I was sent into the Winnipeg Airport to pick up a customer. This was a flight from northern Manitoba. At the terminal, I found my fare….. ayoung couple of aboriginal decent.

The man was dressed in jeans and a USA Secret Service baseball hat. His wife was also decked out in denim. They had flown in from Gods Lake which is a Cree Indian reserve.

They were extremely friendly and happy to be out of the bush. They were fishing and hunting guides and the season was ending for them. They had just guided a group of American fishing enthusiasts.

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He immediately handed me $100. I was asked if I could be their driver for the night. I said, “Sure”. He then handed me another $100. Okay, this was wonderful but u needed to know why he was so generous.

He said that the Secret Service hat was a gift from his last group. George H Bush. Yep, that one. The older Bush that was President of the USA until January 1994. The hat was from one of his security detail. Apparently, he paid big money for the best guide and although he never revealed his fee, my fare had a few thousand dollars in his pocket.

The first stop was for supper at the Ming Court. He asked me to join him and his wife. Okay, I like Chinese food. For that he called me a nice guy and offered me another $100. So, we went and dined and he told me stories about George W Bush. After dinner he thanked me for joining them and offered me another $100.

The next stop was to be the Bar at the St. Regis Hotel. The man had been drinking quite a bit during dinner and he fell down the 4 stairs from the restaurant to the lobby. I had to pick him up because he had messed up his foot. I put him Into the car and suggested a hospital visit to check hit foot. He was in pain, but still in a good mood. He thanked me for my assistance and hands me another $100.

I took them to the hospital emergency and pushed him into the room to check in. They told us that it would be a few hours wait for treatment. I asked my customers if I should wait and they said it could be a while so I could leave.

I thanked them for their generosity and his wife told me that they left some money in the back seat. He said that would be my TIP. His wife agreed.

So, back in the taxi I looked into the back seat and sure enough a small wad of $100’s. Only $600 for the tip. It was only 11pm and I had just earned $1100 for about 4 hours work, courtesy of President George H Bush Sr.

George

George

 

A Taxi Story

Several years ago, when I drove a taxi on the night shift, I came upon many unbelievable fares with weird requests. One of the stories that has never left me was so out of character, this week I want to share it with you.

It was a rainy night in Winnipeg, and about 4am, I came up to a red light at a major intersection. Clinging to the light standard was a gentleman who was dressed shabby and looked homeless. I was concerned about his mobility, so I put on my hazard lights and approached this fellow.
I asked him if he was alright and able to walk. He indicated that he was having trouble because of his arthritis. Now imagine a hobo, with a matted beard, rotten teeth, and dirty damp clothes with no jacket.

I felt empathy for him and asked if I could drop him off somewhere dry and indoors. He replied in a southern Texas drawl that he would appreciate a taxi since no one would stop for him. Oh really! This guy has money?

I helped him into the taxi and began my questions, “First, do you have money for the cab fare?” He digs into his pocket and pulled out a wad of US dollars exceeding $5000. I counted it for him.

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This was the request of my hobo friend. He wanted to pick up a girl at one of the massage parlours and then I would return him to his Private Jet. I would wait for him to finish with the girl and then return her to the parlour. That was the trip.

He immediately paid me $500 US for the fare. He explained that he owned lots of oil wells in Texas and had no idea where he was. At his insistence I put the money away, turned on the meter and pulled up to the massage parlour. I went inside and asked for a volunteer, and found him a cute brunette.

She jumped into the taxi and couldn’t believe her eye’s what I brought her. That was until he gave her a $500US deposit. Now we’re off to the airport.

I pull into the private jet parking and he points out a Gulfstream jet. I approached the plane, honked the horn and out comes a young lady to assist my fare. Before he leaves he asked me to take another $500US for following his instructions and reminds me to wait for the girl.

I asked his attendant if he was for real. She explained that he was one of the wealthiest Texans she new, and he heard about Winnipeg and wanted to see it first hand. She also explained that the hobo look is real. He likes to look penniless.

About an hour later the girl returned to the taxi ,very happy with her payment and I returned her to the workplace.

Forest Gump said, ” taxi driving is like a box of chocolates. You never know what your going to get.”

 

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