Thursday, April 25, 2013

Daily temptations of Saint Pete cab driver

Driver #888

It happened yesterday at Tampa Airport
Here I am, dropping off passenger at Southwest departure terminal, I am counting money and exchange last few words with my fare and out of nowhere comes to passenger side window this elderly guy dressed up like gangster from 1970 and with heavy Spanish accent asks "how much to Sarasota?"
I yelled back "about $140" and kept dealing with my passenger.
After I unloaded luggage of my fare and exchanged few polite thankyous, nicemeetingyous, have safe trip words I got that Spanish guy in to my face again asking "you said, to Sarasota $400?, how about $350?"
Obviously, when I yelled to him $140 he misunderstood that for $400..
My mind started to race,- here is the guy willing to pay more then double on the trip from Tampa Airport to Sarasota... it's almost like lottery jackpot for a cab driver, I was about to grab the guy with his carryon (that's all he had) and put him in my cab, but as all Saint Pete taxi drivers know, picking up anybody at Tampa airport is highly illegal without proper licence and only 3 companies are allowed to do that, and those are Yellow Cab of Tampa, United of Tampa and Super Shuttle + number of unmarked Limo operators with proper stickers,- Penalties for breaking this law, are heavy fines, impounded cab and possible imprisonment for 12-24 hours.
So here I am tempted to take this guy to Sarasota for $350 and at same time thinking, may be its some kind of sting operation by Tampa PD or Tampa Airport Authority to bust dishonest, out of town Taxi drivers who are dropping off at TIA and picking up flags.
I looked around and I saw that Tampa Airport Authority cop across the street, about 30 yards away looking in my direction and then I made my mind and said to my "elderly Spanish gangster from 1970's", I am sorry Sir, I am a cab from Saint Pete and I am not allowed to pickup at Tampa Airport and I would suggest you should go downstairs to arrivals level where all the local cabs are parked, btw. trip to Sarasota shouldn't cost you more than $150.
Then I got in my cab still excited by whole situation and drove up to that cop across the street whose presence prevented me from making some serious money that day and asked him .

Excuse me Sir, I have a question: There is that guy who wants to Sarasota, -am I allowed to pick him up and take him there?
Cops face looked puzzled, then after few seconds he replied :
" Sarasota?, only Super Shuttle is allowed to take passengers there"

Obviously, the cop was pretty much clueless about dynamics and laws at TPA, same like I was dumb for passing up on my opportunity to make money.

1 comment:

  1. I think you were lucky that you didn't pick up the guy,- I heard about other drivers from out of town getting busted at Tampa Airport for picking up flags at departure terminals.
    I guess Tampa Police on occasion conducts sting operation.