Dispatchers and cab drivers are always at each others’ throats. The dispatchers think of themselves as “management,” even though the drivers make more money. Cab drivers are constantly correcting dispatch errors and never get credit for it, and the dispatchers are rarely held accountable for their errors. If a cab driver makes an error, the driver loses money. If a dispatcher makes an error, the driver loses money.

I pull up to an apartment house and call the phone number. Miraculously, it’s the right number.

“Your cab’s out front.”

“Be right there,” a lady says.

In a few minutes, she comes wheeling down the sidewalk on a motorized wheelchair. Her legs are all shriveled up; she’s obviously been this way since birth.
“Why’d they send a car?” she says. “I need a wheelchair van.”

“They screwed up.”

“They always do this!”

“I know. Let me call them.”

I call the dispatch number and get put on hold for nine minutes. Me and the lady in the wheelchair just kind of look at each other and roll our eyes. I get a girl on the phone.

“What can I do for you, cab 1812?”

“This customer needs a wheelchair van.”

“She needs a van?”

“She needs a WHEELCHAIR van.”

“Well,” she snickers, “same thing.”

“No, it’s not. We have regular vans and we have wheelchair vans.”

“She’s never ordered a wheelchair van before. What’s the problem?”

“What do you think is the problem?”

“No need to get snippy, sir.”

“She’s right here in front of me, and she’s in a wheelchair and she needs a wheelchair van.”

“Is it a foldable wheelchair? Can’t you just put it in the trunk?”

“No!”

“Calm down or I will be forced to disconnect and report you. I can see that she’s taken cabs four times this month, never a wheelchair van. Ask her.”

“Have you been taking wheelchair vans or regular cars this month?” I ask the lady, already knowing the answer.

“I have never taken a regular car, I need a WHEELCHAIR VAN!”

“She cannot use anything but a wheelchair van. Your information is wrong,” I say to the dispatcher.

“It’s all right here on the screen, sir. Ask her where she’s going.”

“What? What’s that got to do with it? Here, talk to her yourself.”

I hand the phone to the lady in the wheelchair. She puts the phone to her ear and then says, “Hello? Okay, then why did he give the phone to me?”

She hands the phone back to me.

“I don’t want to talk to her, sir!” the dispatcher says. “I can’t send her a wheelchair van. She needs to call her insurance or something. Ask her if she has insurance.”

“Oh my God! Look, take me off this call! What do you think I’m supposed to do about it?”

“No need to raise your voice, sir. Okay, I’m cancelling you off the call. I’m breaking protocol now, you know. According to the rules, you have expressed an interest in this call and if you do not perform the call after making contact with the customer, you can be suspended for 30 minutes.”

“BUT I CANNOT TRANSPORT THE CUSTOMER, SHE NEEDS A WHEELCHAIR VAN.”

“So you say. People lie, sir. Have a good day.”

She hangs up and takes me off the call. The whole thing has wasted 40 minutes of my time which I will never be compensated for.

“What about me?” the lady in the wheelchair says.

“Sorry, I guess you’re gonna have to call and try again.”

“Fuck!” she says. “Pardon my French.”

“It’s okay,” I say.

“At least it isn’t raining,” she says.

***

For all installments from 6 to 6, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Traveling Mercies
  2. Next Time, Take Skyline
  3. Suicide Lane
  4. Morenci in My Rear-View Mirror
  5. A Spiritual Adventure
  6. Sonja’s Ring
  7. A Pair to Draw To
  8. Grocery Day
  9. A Day with Melanie
  10. The Hot Light
  11. Drano
  12. The Cab Knows the Way
  13. Dodi’s Luck
  14. Don’t Die Before Your Mother
  15. Bob’s Big Day
  16. Nothing But a Human Being
  17. John’s Dream
  18. God Didn’t Get Me No Weed
  19. Ramirez
  20. What’s Going to Happen to Me?
  21. Do I Look Like an Indian to You?
  22. The Maze
  23. Fun with Ruby
  24. Portrait of the Artist as a Certified Loony
  25. Turn Around, Dumbass
  26. Red Bull Blues
  27. The Great Desert Palms Escape
  28. Bitcoin