(Not) Getting a Cab in Austin: Part 3

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So when we left off, I’d just spoken with the owner of Yellow Cab Austin, and given him the sensible advice to not make promises he couldn’t keep. That night I had the opportunity, once again, to call upon Yellow Cab for transport – my flight back to Boston was at 9:40 the following morning. And lo! Behold! I was greeted with a recording giving a disclaimer about their dispatch service malfunction! I’d effected real change, it seemed!

Nevertheless, I made my reservation for 6am, and called Lone Star Cab as backup for a pickup at 7.

Me being me, I slept through my alarm. I woke at 7:30 to my phone ringing, with the taxi driver from Lone Star on the other end of the line. This is 7:30am, mind you, which is neither 6 nor 7. “Where are you?” he asked me, in a thickly accented voice. “I can’t find you on the GPS.”

“Um, maybe try a map,” I suggested, not unhelpfully. “I think it’s off Airport Boulevard, but I can’t be sure. I don’t live here.”

“OK, OK, OK,” he interrupted. “I be there soon.”

I got up, brushed my teeth, and set about packing. Half an hour later, as I was finishing off the last of the Diet Coke and smoking the day’s first cigarette, he called back.

“OK, so you are coming off I-35 from downtown, and which way do you turn off the exit?”

I mean, was I  UNCLEAR earlier about the ‘not living here’ thing? “I really don’t know,” I said, “I’ve never been to Austin before in my life. I think you turn right.”

“Right?” His tone was almost accusatory. “You sure it’s not left?”

“What? NO, I’m not sure! I DON’T LIVE HERE. But I think it’s right.” I stubbed out my Camel Light and huffed inside the house.

“OKOKOK, I call you back.”

I hadn’t yet had time to put the empty 2-liter in the trashcan when my phone rang again. But, instead of the cranky cabbie, it was a pleasant audio recording informing me that my cab was approaching. Yellow Cab Austin! My chariot had arrived – and only two and a half hours late!

Lone Star called back one more time, but I didn’t bother answering. It was my last cab ride in Austin. I wanted to enjoy every second.


(Not) Getting a Cab in Austin: Part 2

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7am was foggy in Austin. I noticed when I poked my head out the door to look for the cab that, of course, wasn’t there. I waited the requisite 20 minutes and then put in my phone call.

“We’re very busy,” said the dispatcher. “And we don’t guarantee our arrival time.”

“That’s bullshit,” I replied. “I want to speak to your manager.”

“We don’t guarantee our arrival time,” said the manager. “Plus, it’s foggy outside.”

“My cab yesterday NEVER came! I mean, I just really want to know, is a cab coming, or not?”

“Wait 20 more minutes,” she advised. “Call us back then.”

I think not. I woke up my friend, who woke up her husband, who, kindly, drove me downtown.

Two hours later, I still hadn’t received a call from the cab company, which led me to believe there were still no available cabs. But lo! Across the street! During my cigarette-and-coffee break, I certainly did spy four empties waiting for a fare. And I got SO mad. Once more, I dialed the number for Yellow Cab Austin. After listening to three rounds of their hold message, I was in no mood to dally around with the dispatcher – I got put right to the top. And by “right to the top” I mean “to the owner’s voicemail”.

Voicemail? VOICEMAIL??!! You could have popped me with a pin, I was so puffed up. So I did the only think I could do – I threatened legal action. He called me right back, sure he did, and he was VERY apologetic. “This is entirely our fault,” he admitted, and went on to tell me how they’d had some kind of electrical surge in their system that totally fried their dispatch center.

I put on my best business voice. “Well sir, I appreciate your position and I certainly thank you for calling me back. But I would suggest to you that you simply be transparent with your customers, instead of promising them cabs that won’t ever arrive.”

I mean, I almost felt bad for the guy. One more post, and you’ll see what happens.


Sometimes I’m wrong.

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Just got back from Arizona and man, if I hear one more person talk about the dry heat I think I’ll have to chew off my fingers. While I was there, temps hit 113. Wind that could roast a flank steak. Sidewalks that could fry bacon. Even at night, you could practically draw a warm bath just by leaving some water in the open air. People, dry heat is no picnic, and I’ve been saying it to anyone who’ll listen. Including my cabbie to Logan last Sunday. At 5am. Loudly.

So today I get off the plane and it’s all cool and overcast, and I’m like, ha, Arizona. Take that with your triple-digit lows. Then it starts raining, and I get a little more meh about things. Then I step out of my car into the humidity. Then I step INTO my parents’ house, baked as it has been in a staunch heat wave and left to stew, a congealed two-story terrarium without the tempering salve of central air, and I’m like, holy shit. Maybe there is something to this dry heat business after all.


My big mouth finally gets me somewhere.

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Date: July 4, 2010
Time: 5am
Place: Logan International Airport, Terminal C

I’m standing in the bag drop line, ostensibly, having checked in online, to do nothing more than drop my bag. There’s a family in front of me and another family at the ticketing counter. It’s really taking awhile, for just dropping off bags.

“NEXT IN LINE,” shouts the baggage man. “EVERYBODY ALL SET? JUST NEED TO CHECK BAGS? ALREADY PAID FOR YOUR TICKETS?” This last part seems directed at the family in front of me, who are making their bedraggled way in his general direction.

“Oh, checked in? No, we’re not checked in,” says the matriarch.

“THEN YOU’RE IN THE WRONG LINE” barks the baggage man. “CAN’T YOU READ? THERE’S A SIGN RIGHT THERE.”

A scene ensues, the woman yelling at the man, and the man yelling right back at the woman. I am uncomfortable, and maintain a neutral countenance while I continue my iPhone scrabble game. It’s five in the morning, I keep thinking to myself. Who has the energy?

Verbal jousting finished, baggage man beckons to another family in a different line, and they saddle over to the ticketing counter. Not in a mood to be confrontational, I wait patiently as baggage man goes ahead and… yes… checks them in. For flights to Ft. Lauderdale. The family who used to be in front of me is able to self-check-in, drop their bags, and be on their merry way while I am still waiting, as instructed, in the bag drop line.

“NEXT” yells baggage man.

I yawn, heaving my bag lazily onto the scale. “I have a question,” I say. “What’s the point of checking in online if it takes this long just to drop my luggage?”

Baggage man stares at me blankly.

“I mean, I’ve seen people check in and move along in the time I’ve just been standing here waiting.”

Baggage man is not pleased with me.

“I mean, I saw you check those people in just now, after you told those other people you COULDN’T check them in, and meanwhile I’ve just been waiting here with my bag. It seems ludicrous. So if you’re just going to check people in at the bag drop line, what’s the point of having a bag drop line?”

Baggage man’s face turns dark with rage.

“NO POINT,” he snarls. “THERE’S NO POINT AT ALL.” He hurls my suitcase on the conveyor belt and fixes me with an awful stare.

“Ok,” I say. “That’s all I wanted to hear, I guess.”

As I’m walking away, I’m struck by how shitty baggage guy has made my morning. I mean, when you travel, you need to maintain a certain air of calm, a certain consideration for your fellow man. Baggage guy needs stiff drink and a xanax, I decide, and NOBODY needs this kind of bullshit before 6am. I circle back to the ticket counter to lodge a complaint.

Baggage guy sees me hovering near business class check-in and storms down the counter towards me. “CAN I HELP YOU, MA’AM?” he shouts, one arm raised in a Nazi salute. “YOU NEED SOMETHING?” His approach is menacing, almost threatening, and I feel a rush of adrenaline pump up from my Irish core. I take one step forward.

“What’s your name, sir?” except it doesn’t come out as a question. The words drop from my lips like steel marbles.

“DAVID” he spits.

“You’ll be hearing from me.”

I turn on my heel and walk away with cool, measured paces.

So yesterday, first thing, I put in a call to Air Tran Airways. I tell my story, not forgetting to mention that it was FIVE IN THE MORNING for God’s sake, and they thank me for my time and give me an upgrade to business class for my redeye flight home.

Moral of the story? Don’t take no shit from no one. Especially not angry baggage men at Logan.


“Noxious” is the word I was looking for.

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B! loves Mai Tais. Like, Loooves mai tais. Like, he’s had mai tais in at least seven states, he goes hunting for them. I don’t particularly care for mai tais – I’m really not a rum girl, except for the occasional mojito – but, things being as they are, I often drink mai tais when I’m with him and often feel compelled to order them when we’re apart. it’s not something that I’m proud of, but it’s something that happens.

Flying to Charlotte last Friday, I opened up my tray table and was greeted with an ad for Stirrings mixers, the Venerable Mai Tai as the featured cocktail. I thought of B!, thought how funny he’d find it if I drank one at 30,000 feet, and sheepishly placed my drink order. It was 8:30 in the morning, give or take. The stewardess didn’t bat an eyelash, instead taking the opportunity to slip me an extra on the sly.  I imagine she thought that I needed it. I felt weird about that.

What made me feel weirder, though, was the smell that emanated from the Stirrings bottle when I cracked the seal. Limey and sweet, with an unctuous chemical undertone, it was actually even WORSE than opening the nip of Bacardi. My seatmate politely ignored my apparent debauchery and undisguised disgust as I daintily poured first the rum then the mai tai into my extra-large glass. I opened up my laptop and started working, trying hard to maintain a patina of normalcy while taking the first gentle sip of my cocktail. And,

OH

MY

GOD.

Was it disgusting. Absolutely unspeakable! It was the oral equivalent of the BP oil explosion, a slithering slick on the skin of my throat. I restrained myself from gagging and tried again. Maybe it’s just the early hour, I thought, because NOTHING could be this bad – not even breakfast rum.

Oop.

I was wrong.

It was worse.

It seemed to me like giving me that extra mai tai was like giving me mono, starting as innocent as a handshake or a kiss but ending in tears. And what do we want when we’re in tears? For other people to feel our pain, of course! I happily presented my dearest B! with my remaining cocktail upon our check in to the hotel, and absolutely lost my shit laughing when he drank down that first brave gulp. I thought he might die.

Moral of the story? Play to your enemy’s strength. Don’t order mai tais on airplanes, and don’t order martinis in dive bars. Free advice, from me to you. Cheers!


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