Ten questions for the Andrew, the ever-entertaining author of the Twitter site LVCabbieChronicles.
1. Q: Where does New Year’s Eve rank on your list of nights you would have rather called in sick?
A: There is only one night on that list and it’s New Years Eve. There can be some high points with some fun people, but it’s usually just a headache.
2. Q: How many New Year’s Eves have you worked and give us a rundown of what you have to deal with.
A: I’ve been driving a cab for 8 years and this NYE will be my 5th. I try and avoid it whenever possible. 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. New Years Eve however, is the night when all of those preconceived notions are true. The traffic is unnavigable, overly drunk people are everywhere and your chances of making it through the night without any pukers or uncomfortable situations is dire. Add to this equation the forsaking of all personal responsibilities on the behalf of our guest and voila’, you’re in my nightmare. My first New Year’s Eve in the cab I had big aspirations of making a lot of money. But it wasn’t long into that adventure when I realized that if I could just simply make it home in one piece and without having to smell anybodies insides then I would consider the evening a major success. There are really three phases that make up my New Years Eve and one thing that would surprise you is the fact that there is a slow period. 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 10pm 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. As it were, this dead period is usually the only enjoyable part of NYE for me. During this time I like to drive away from the madness and park the cab at my secret vantage point so I can take in the fireworks just like everyone else. While waiting for the show I make phone calls to those dear to me and I just try to enjoy the serenity that exists in the eye of this storm. For I know that as soon as the final blasts of the grand finale have echoed through the air, the chaos will soon commence.
3. Q: Is it the worst night for cleaning up messes?
A: Without a doubt, but thankfully a new policy is place. Due to bio-hazard concerns drivers are no longer responsible for cleaning up your accidents. Rather, professionals familiar with the potential dangers are hired by the cab companies to properly address these issues. It really is a medical matter. So, these days all I have to do is take the cab back to the yard and switch it out for a new one. That said, my hope is that party goers could control themselves a little bit better. It’s ok to tell your cabbie to pull over if you have too. 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.
4. Q: How many years have you been a cabbie and how many times have you had sex occur in your cab?
A: This depends on who you ask. Personally, I feel like the lesbians should count. So, if we’re counting the lesbians then the answer is 3. The strangest part is that I’m still not sure where I stand on in-cab-sex ethos. For starters, should you ask the cabbie if it’s ok before you begin? Or not? If you ask me and I say no, I’m a bad cabbie. If you ask me and I say yes, I’m a pervert. And am I supposed to watch you or am I supposed to not watch you? And what if we arrive at your destination before you’ve finished? Should I just drive around then and kill time? Or do I just pull right up to your hotel? These things fascinate me Norm. It’s really an area Judith Martin should explore sometime.
5. Q: Dumbest question you’ve been asked?
A: The most commonly asked stupid question I’ve been asked is ‘Do you live here?’ I have two prefab answers: One is ‘I commute to Vegas from the Cayman Islands on my private jet.’ And I occasionally respond: ‘No, I’m actually a cab driver 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 ‘how much is a ride to Chicago?’ I also get ‘Where in Vegas does everyone live?’ I point to the mountains and they’re usually amazed. One lady asked, ‘How did they move the mountains that far out?’”
6. Q: Your best celebrity story?
A: That’s a tough one. There have been a few. I’ll always remember DJ AM. AM was in my cab for a just a brief Caesars to Wynn trip. Most knew him just as what’s-her-face’s fiance but I knew him as a DJ. Adam was very generous to me, partly because I knew him on his level I think and partly because he enjoyed the fact that I had made fun of his friend a little bit. I suppose now that he’s gone that ride holds a greater significance to me.
Maybe a better story involves the time I picked up Gary Kubiak at the airport going to the Bellagio. You know him as the Head Coach of the Houston Texans NFL team. Previously he was the Offensive Coordinator under Mike Shanahan in Denver and in his day he was John Elway’s back up for the Broncos for many years. Naturally I knew these things about the guy but what I failed to do was simply recognize him. As far as I knew, I had just picked up some dude at the airport. I happened to pick him up only weeks after he landed the head job in Houston. I asked this stranger what brought him to Las Vegas and he told me that he hadn’t seen his family for a while so he flew them to Vegas and he was meeting them here. So I asked him if he had to travel a lot for work and he said, "Well, I had a job in Denver and I just got a new job down in Houston and I haven’t had a chance to move my family there yet." The guy couldn’t have been more humble. Of course, this wasn’t helping the fact that I still didn’t know who was in my backseat. "So what kind of work do you do?" I asked him and he replied simply, "I’m a football coach." This piqued my interest so I immediately asked him what school he was coaching for. "No, I coach for a pro team," he said. "Oh really? Like one of those Arena teams or something?" I said like a total idiot. "No," he finally revealed, "I’m the Head Coach of the Houston Texans." I couldn’t believe it. "Gary Kubiak?" I said. "Yep that’s me." Coach Kubiak was such a humble and gracious guy that day that I’ve been a closet Texans fan ever since.
7. Q: Is New Year’s Eve a good night or disastrous night for tipping?
A: Despite the conditions NYE is usually a good night for tips. Typically the party crowd is a good tipping crowd and New Years is no exception. I’ve received many excellent tips working on NYE. One time I sat in traffic so long with these 3 girls who worked at Disneyland that we made friends and a couple of weeks later I got free passes from them in the mail.
8. Q: What was the biggest jaw dropping activity you witnessed in a cab?
A: I had witnessed a rollover accident at the Rainbow Bowl on US 95 one night. I parked my cab on the shoulder and ran across the freeway to the upside down car wedged against the barricade and found that the driver hadn’t worn his seat belt. He was folded up like a pretzel in the backseat. I didn’t think there was any way that he was alive. I starting yelling inside the car at him and the next thing I knew, the guy, despite my pleas to remain still and wait for help, pulled himself together and crawled out of there all by himself. Then he stood up right in front of me and asked me where his friend, "Jeremy" was. It was unbelievable.
9. Q: Your biggest tip and why?
A: For a $14 dollar fare a business woman gave me $140. She had gotten in my cab frantic that she had left her cell phone in her previous cab. She was in Las Vegas for a convention and naturally all of her contacts were in her phone. I calmly asked for her number and called it. Thankfully the cabbie found it and answered it and soon thereafter we were on our way to retrieve it at his location. On our way back to her hotel she said she only had $80 to give me and actually made me stop at a gas station so she could get more money out of the ATM. She tipped the other cabbie handsomely as well.
10. Q: Your scariest night as a cabbie?
A: Though I did thwart an armed robbery attempt on one occasion, I would say that my scariest overall night would definitely have to be my first night ever driving cab. To begin with, I had no idea where I was going. Together with the fact that I didn’t know the answers to any of the questions people asked made me feel stupid. It also felt weird being intrusted with other peoples lives while driving an unfamiliar car. That can weigh on you if you dwell on it. To say nothing of the fact that I was convinced everybody in my cab was about to put a knife to my throat. So yeah I was a bit jumpy, it just seemed like a lot to digest all at once.