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August 11, 1976 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-08-11

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A cabbie's ta ilng ament

First of two parts
MAY. on the night of oy
indoctrination to the fine
art of dciving a taxicah, any
illtsions I may have harbored
aboot getting rich at it were
ruthlessly dispelled by a cold,
hard look at the r _ality of the
sitttatirt. It was ohvious that
there simII wtcrent enough
people taking cahs to make it
very profitable tTt drive one.
But if this key observatitna
hadn't been enough to convince
M of the gravity of the cir-
canstanccs, several of the oth-
er drivers seemed determined
to do so. A few of us were
cottmiseriting ton the Depot
stnnd when Eric cepis, a two
year veteran of the Ann Arbor
circuiit, ieterjecti's the follow-
ing p)1'ophetic st tttent into
the conversation: "Yea . .
this sunmer's bon he dead.'
Indeed Summer' has always
been a otc season for cab-
driving in Ann Arhor. There
are two main reasons for this:
1) because of the warm weath-
er, people are willing to ride
hikes or walk to their destina-
tion and 2) most of the stu-
dents, wio provide a sizable
chunk of bosiness diring the
school year, eave town,
Even some of the more ex-
perietced drivers are averag-
inr less than t htotr and on
restlly noor days. less than $2
an hotr. Not lono ago one of
the old timers tol me that he
had sgtaved ttttt fo- 13 hours and
had btotked ; erro total of
$23, of which h not half. In
terms Of real monetarv return,
this works tot to a rather em-
barrt-ssine 88 cents an hotr.
Fortuinotely, this figtre renre-
sents Iterndir in net income
per hour and is truly unap-

pIroochable withofut the aid of a
crippling stroke of bad luck and
or an attack of extremely poor
judgment. Nevertheless, the
danger of actually working for
less than the minimum wage is
gile real and humiliating.
then, could possibly make
ts drive over 100 miles a day
in stop and go traffic and 90
dcgree heat when all we re-
ceive in return for our services
is a mere pittance? Or, per-
haps even more to the point,
whv do we spend hours sitting
in or stuffy cabs, reading the
newspaper and waiting to do
these things? These are .
uh . . . good questions.
Itm sure we all have our own
particular reasons for driving a
cah instead of entering some
ther lite of work. To some,
-resorting to being a cabbie is
a desperation move. The only
reason they do it is to earn
enough money to live on while
searching for poother job.
These are your hArd-core com-
plainers. They're used to mak-
ing four or five times as much
money as they are now and
they don't like it ope bit. This
isn't unusual. With the lousy
working conditions this sum-
mer, everyone is complaining
vociferousv, if not profanely.
Nottvithstanding all this cus-
toiarv hitching, I suspect the
m,'iority of drivers I've met ac-
t'nll,, enirsv their work, For
o's'on not altogether clear at
ttiS n0i0t that isn't quite as
irftty as it sounds.
Ywi see, when you're driving
a cab there's nobody around
to hassle vot. You're essential-
]v in business for vourself, even
if vont don't own the cab vot're
i"i'in e. The nattre of the joh
is such that it's pretty much

The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Wednesday, August 11, 1976
News Phone: 764-0552,
Remodeling alandmark
WE THANK THE Regents for making available the
necessary funds to further refurbish a building
whose importance is frequently underrated by the Uni-
versity community-the Michigan Union.
The $334.000 the Regents untapped last Friday will
make it possible for the final consolidation of student
services in the striking structure which has admirably
served the students, staff and alumni of Ann Arbor
since 1920. With the relocation of the Student Mental
Health Clinic to remodeled quarters on the Union's third
floor, students need only go to that level, for many of
the vital services provided by the University. We feel
such a convenient arrangement is desirable on a campus
whose ;vastness and intricacy often forces the student
to wander aimlessly about from office to office.
Four new meeting rooms will also be established on
the first' floor, affording additional space for groups
seeking to meet in the building.
Furthermore, the refurbishing of the Union is am-
ple proof that we can indeed keep our older, more grace-
ful structures as vital cogs on campus. Now, if the Board
would dig into the coffers, perhaps it can seek to save
the beloved Waterman-Barbour gym complex so, it too,
can remain as a mixture of architectural elegance and
community. service.

ups to you what you make of
each day, an no two days are
alike. The opportunity, then, to
earn an unlimited amount of
money is there, but there's no
guarantee you'll make any
money at all. The trick is to
be at the right place at the
right time. To do this requires.
a basic understanding of the
business, a certain amount of
luck, and a good ear for the ra-
4 COOt) RADIO IS a vital
possession to the cab-driv-
er. The radio is the cabbie's
link to the dispatcher, who in
tttrn is a link to the customer.
The disnatching procedure
works as follows: The dispatch-
er 'takes the order over the
nhone and determines which
stand area the customer's ad-
dress is in. The order is then
Oiven to the cab first up on
that stand.
For example, if an order
came in for the bits station
and cab No. 1 was first up on
the Ashley stand. the dispatch-
er would say, "Cab 1, passen-
ger gbus." Number one would,
then say something catchy like
"Bus" to acknowledge the or-
der. This simple procedure is
necessary to minimize the num-
ber of communication gaps that
inevitably develop between dri-
ser and disnatcher. Most com-
totnication napskresult in ei-
ther a " call-btack" or ai "no-
no". both of which can be very
There are 17 taxi stands in
Ann Arbor fsituated in debat-
ably strategic parts of town)
and vou're free to sit on any
stand whenever you Want.
Some stands are safe to be on
because they "move". That is,
a lot of orders go off them
┬░and yott osutally don't have to
wait too long for an order when
voo hit them. The downtown
s t a n d s fWashington, Lib-
erty and Ashley Streets) are
and becaitse they cover all of
downtown and much of the
west. side. The Depot stand cov-:
ers nractically the whole north
sOde when no on is on the North
Camnus, so it also moves well.
The problem with these' re-
liable stands is that they're sus-
ceptible to most of the classic
bummer orders. A lot of 90c
and one dollar runs are given
to cabs sitting downtown or on
the Depot.,

tIHE STANDS ON the out-
skirts of town, on the other
hand, are totally unpredictable.
They can be good because if
you take someone into town,
the fare can easily run over $2.
Thos, even if you have to wait
twice as long for' an order,
there's a chance you'll get a
good run and do just as well
or better than if you had got-
ten two one dollar orders in
'What irrational force
then, could possibly
make us dive over 1Q00
miles a day in $top and
go traffic and 90 de-
gree heat when all we
receive ... is a mere pit-
The difficulty lies in the fact
that with the exception of the
regular customers who always
leave from the same place at
the same time, you never know
where the orders will be. It's
a nice feeling to cop a good
trip off one of these outside
stands, but the risk of getting
shafted is great enough to de-

.or P'hoto by SCuTTECCKER
ter many a longshot player.
Just the other night, for ex-
ample, Peter Theiss and my-
self were discussing this prob-
lem of uncertainty about which
stands to land on. Pete has
been driving for a couple of
years, so he's pretty familiar
with all the angles.
"Idied on the Hoover to-
night," he said, "I sat there
for an hour and a half. Finally
I asked Dean (the dispatcher),
'How long have I been sitting
here?' 'Oh, about 90 minutes.'
he said, So I said, "This is
ridiculous. I'm taking a break.'
I wouldn't have sat there so
long, except I was reading this
book. When I finished the book,
I knew it was time to leave. I
coldn't believe it. The whole
east side was just completely
That night Pete told me that
anyone who waits around on
"obscure" stands is crazy.
"You might get a longer run,"
he said, "but you-can get burn-
ed too." I just laughed. I knew
I'd see him on the Hoover
again, or even worse, the Sny-
der, the Manchester or the
North Campus, playing the ir-
resistable longshot. It simply
isn't any fun to hit\the down-
town and Depot stands all the
time. By experimenting with
different stands, you can make
an art of- driving a cab and
keep the job at least mildly in-
When Matthew Beal isn'/
dricing his hack, he's at LSA
smor mtajoring in journalisti.

C.onta-ct your reps
Sen. Phillip Hart (Deni.), 253 Russell Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 2051$.
Sen. Robert Griffin (Rep.), 353 Russell Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Rep. Marvin Esch (Rep:), 2153 Rayburn Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Sen. Gilbert Bursley (Rep.), Senate, State Capitol Bldg.,
Lansing, MI 48933
Rep. Perry Bullard (Dem.), House of Representatives, State
Capitol Bldg., Lansing, MI 48933.

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