New Year's Eve can be one long headache for Las Vegas taxi drivers.
"For 364 days of the year, I would tell you that most of what you might believe about my business is not exactly the case," says one of the city's most tweeted cabbies.
"New Year's Eve however," says the author of the Twitter site LVCabbieChronicles, "is the night when all of those preconceived notions are true."
His first name is Andrew. He'd rather not share his last name or the name of the taxi company he works for.
Monday will be the fifth New Year's Eve assignment for the Iowa native, who has lived in Las Vegas for 15 years, the last eight as a cabby.
And like most everyone else, his favorite part of the evening is midnight.
"There are really three phases that make up my New Year's Eve and one thing that would surprise you is the fact that there is a slow period," he said in an interview via email.
"The first part of the night is when everybody is trying to get to where they are going to party. After that, there is a period from about 10 p.m. to midnight where, once people get to their locations they tend to stay there for a few hours and celebrate.
"This leaves many cabbies sitting around doing nothing in the middle of the busiest night of the year. It's quite bizarre."
Andrew takes advantage of the down time to get away from the Strip and park the cab at a secret vantage point to take in the fireworks and make a few calls to friends and family.
The final blasts of the grand finale means "the chaos will soon commence," he said.
The rest of the evening - and morning - he deals with traffic jams, intoxicated revelers and general craziness.
Oh yes, and dumb questions like "Do you live here?"
He occasionally responds, " 'No, I'm actually a cabdriver in Chicago and I caught a fare to Vegas and now I'm working Vegas just trying to catch a fare back to Chicago.'
"I say it with a straight face and invariably the next question is, 'How much is a ride to Chicago?' "
One night a female schoolteacher asked, "Where in Vegas does everyone live?" He pointed to a vast sea of residential lights that extends to the mountains.
"She was amazed," he said. Then she asked, "How did they move the mountains that far out?"
New Year's Eve is all about fare and foul. It's a good night for tips, but there's a downside. Amateur night often means nightmarish messes.
"But thankfully a new policy is in place. Due to biohazard concerns, drivers are no longer responsible for cleaning up your accidents," he said. Professionals familiar with the potential dangers are hired by the cab companies to properly address the issue.
Andrew added, "It's OK to tell your cabby to pull over if you have to. It's also OK to tip him handsomely in the event of an accident. When you get down to it, puking in your cab is the most offensive thing you can do to your driver."
Toasted passengers are generally more generous on New Year's Eve, he said.
"One time I sat in traffic so long with these three girls who worked at Disneyland that we became friends and a couple of weeks later I got free passes from them in the mail."
For the full interview, go to www.NormClarke.com.
"Sin City Rules" cast member Amy Hanley is back home, apologizing for "worrying everyone" after a two-day disappearance as her nude photos surfaced on a tiny Twitter site.
Hanley went missing from Wednesday until early Saturday when, in what smacked of an amateurish publicity stunt, she issued several statements explaining her behavior on Facebook and Twitter.
First she blamed her "trying times" on a betrayal that she claims led to the photos ending up on a Twitter site with fewer than 800 followers.
But Hanley went from disgusted to delighted in a heartbeat, when she said she realized that "I'm a strong, beautiful, confident woman, so I thank whomever released the photos for empowering me to be all these things."
In one of her Facebook posts, she acknowledged that "someone that was around me was attempting to sell my photos" and she "reached out" to several people to help her. "I was told to sell them myself."
I sent Hanley an email, asking her to address the suspicion that it was all a publicity stunt. She did not respond to the request.
THE PUNCH LINE
"Kids start using a lot of prison slang." - From David Letterman's Top 10 Signs You've Hired a Bad Baby Sitter
Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. His weekly segment, "Norm Clarke's Vegas," airs Thursday mornings on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.