[The following is an email I sent to my mailing list a few days ago.]
I quit driving a taxi a year ago last October, two weeks before Halloween. I have been out of the cab for over a year now. I just couldn’t take any more, just at my wits’ end. There’s a lot of shit jobs in this world where you have to deal with assholes and the general public; I am sure that somewhere in this world, there is a desk manager at a Holiday Inn that is dreading going to work tomorrow, or a nightshift cashier at Walmart that can’t take many more mutants at her register at 4:15 in the morning, but the difference is that while their customers may be assholes, they probably won’t assault them or puke on their shoes.
The decision was actually made by my wife… she said to me that she didn’t like the person I had become after five years of this shit. I went to bed hammered many nights, woke up tired and groggy, just angry and irritable all the time, and so exhausted on my days off that doing little repairs and things around the house was hard to accomplish, and never seemed to get done. I didn’t like never seeing my wife and especially my daughter… missing all the special moments like her birthday parties and school events, or even just taking her to the park and watching her on the swings. I’ve missed a lot of her childhood.
I’ve said more than once that the problem for me isn’t the job, it’s the people… if I was driving around cardboard boxes rather than these wasted morons, I would have never started a blog, and my mind probably would have never met your mind. I could work for FedEx until I was eighty years old. But somehow, other taxi drivers don’t seem to have a problem with these people. Some drivers do this for decades and just let it roll off their backs, but I can’t seem to do that, and I have come to understand that I am temperamentally not suited to this work. Since I detest belligerent drunks and have a natural aversion to violence, I’d be even worse as a bouncer. I’m OK with that… it’s just who I am. I’d also make a lousy accountant, I’m not a good enough liar to be a spy or an undercover detective, and since I’m not crazy about heights, I’d be useless as a roofer or high steel worker.
And that’s OK. Know thyself. I’m just not suited to this work. So I quit.
Not to belittle anyone with serious problems, but I am just now breaking through my intense case of PTDS: Post Taxi Disgust Syndrome. I’m sleeping better, though I can’t seem to reorient my internal clock reliably. I still stay up too late, and my brain remains most highly focused between midnite and 4 AM… or what I used to call “bar close”. I still dream about driving a taxi, as weird as that sounds… and I don’t mean dream like I want to go back.
I still have all my regular customers saved in my phone, dozens and dozens of really nice people that I’ll never speak to again, maybe with a few exceptions, like Clayton and Tyler. Beverly is still in my contacts, a lady in her late sixties or early seventies who lives in a luxury downtown condominium that called me once or twice per month for years to take her and her husband to the opera or the theatre or the ballet or a restaurant or some other venue where a gentleman should wear a suit, a lady I charmed the first time I picked her up.
I randomly got her first call to my taxi company, and after they got in my car and I headed out to their destination, I said, “Well, this is a pleasure… it’s nice to see a gentleman taking his daughter out to the theater…” They both laughed heartily, and Beverly tipped me generously, and she called me exclusively for two or three years. One night she called and I was a long way away and couldn’t serve her quickly, but I told her to sit tight, and I sent one of the guys in my company to fetch her immediately and get her where she needed to go. Beverly started tipping me even more after that, because she knew I would always make sure she was taken care of.
And all my NS or “No Service” idiots are in there as well. If you are a jackass or a problem or sketchy or smell bad, I save your number in my phone with a brief description like “NS puker” or “NS dealer” or “Mango Ave hooker”, so I don’t have to deal with you again. One night a few weeks before I quit, my phone rang and the ID on the screen said “NO FUCKING WAY”, all caps. Funny thing is, I don’t even remember who that was… but when I think back over the parade of belligerent idiots and intoxicated human debris that has been in my car, I honestly don’t miss dealing with those people.
So now I’m a house-husband. I’ve mentioned before that my wife is in real estate, and this is another job where I would really suck. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I hate texting. My wife is on her phone from eight in the morning to nine or ten pm sometimes. She’s extremely good at this real estate business, but she was being held back by the duties of being the sole parent awake and available in the daylight. A successful real estate agent needs to be flexible and be ready to turn on a dime to serve a client, because an $10,000 check might be on the line. Between getting my daughter up and dressed and taking her to school and picking her up and getting her through dinner and bath and bedtime, plus having her on the weekends, she was lucky to accumulate 40 working hours over seven days in a week. She was trying to show homes and meet with clients around the daily schedule of a kindergartner, not really a schedule for success for a real estate agent.
We talked it over, looked at her sales curve, did the math, and decided I was more valuable at home than in the car, taking care of my daughter and keeping up the house so my wife can devote mad hours to her business, with me doing direct mail and internet marketing to keep her busy. And I’m happy to report that she is on an ever-upward trajectory, and I expect good things for us in 2017. I still work for the taxi company, blogging and marketing them for a modest weekly stipend, but between their marketing needs and my wife’s marketing needs, they keep me pretty busy. And when you add school pickup and homework and dinner and laundry and grocery shopping and bathtime and cutting the grass and vacuuming and pool cleaning and going to the Goodyear shop to get my wife a new tire, I seem to be really damned busy these days. And on top of all this, I am moving at the end of February, and I’m not entirely certain where all the money for that is coming from.
I once said in a post a while back that if I could just get out of the car I could write so much more, but now that it’s happened, I find the opposite is true. A lot of my writing happened sitting outside of a bar on a slow Wednesday night without a ride for an hour or two, when I had nothing else to do but pick up my iPad and write about some crazy drunk that was in my car last weekend. I seem to have very few of those nothing-else-to-do hours these days.
I still steal an hour here and there to work on the book, but currently it is 63 files in a folder that range from finished stories to barebones notes about some jackass I threw out of my car. The work continues, when I can. The other night I wrote a little about a drunk guy that I told, “You idiots are the reason I carry spare magazines.”
So the question now is, what do I do next?
I quit. I have no new taxi tales forthcoming, all the rest are going into this book I am struggling to write. I guess I could just close the blog and leave it online until I can’t afford it anymore. But I still want to write more than the taxi book, and a lot of you are here because of my political rants. I’d like to continue offering my viewpoint on politics and current events, but that has a low priority when weighed against things that actually makes me money or contribute to building my wife’s business.
Many of you have donated to me through my donate button, some people more than once, and I am moved every time I get a ten or twenty dollar contribution. And I love those occasions when I look at my email and yell across the house, “Hey, babe… some girl in Nebraska just sent me seventy-five bucks!” But it is very random, not the sort of thing one can make plans on. Things have been tight as we have adjusted to me only making a small recompense from my taxi company. If I could somehow get paid to make posts like The Pig Trap and Black Lies Matter, I’d post more often.
I think I have found a way to do that, if you guys like my writing the way you say you do.
I’ve discovered this site called Patreon. Basically, it is a place for writers, artists, musicians, and video producers to build up a base of patrons to further their work. The artist sets up an account, and he decides how you can patronize him, either by pledging a set amount by the month, or by the piece of work. By the piece seems to be the proper option for me; my schedule is so packed I can’t honestly predict when I can post, and I would feel guilty if someone paid three bucks for a month when I just couldn’t post anything.
Besides, I like being paid on performance, one of the few things I did like about driving a taxi. I might have hated it, but if you asked any of my teammates, they would all tell you I was very good at it. I made pretty good money for five years.
So here’s how it works: if you like my writing and wish to see the work continue, you pledge one or two or three or five dollars for every post I make… the price of a beer, depending on where you drink.
Like I said, I’m really busy and can’t promise a post every week. But if I were able to keep that pace, $1 pledged per post would be four dollars per month. You have the ability to cap your pledge, and if I suddenly start spurting out five essays a week, you can set a cap so you never pay more than four dollars in a month. But trust me, I’m way too busy for that to happen.
It is all very secure, and I don’t have access to your personal info. You can opt to cancel at any time. There is no obligation, no contract, no risk. If I don’t produce an essay, you don’t pay for one. If my work sucks, you quit, just like I did.
And if I decide to put up some trivial post about a music video I like or some random offhand observation, I’ll just post it here rather than on Patreon so you don’t pay for that. I won’t put up bullshit and ask you to pay for it. It took me eighteen months to send out this first email to this mailing list, so my promise to not abuse your Yahoo or Gmail account should tell you that I would never abuse your generosity.
Some artists on Patreon put up most of their posts or videos so that people can’t see unless they are a $10.00 contributor, or meet some other threshold. That’s bullshit, and I don’t want to do that. That’s a paywall, something that pisses me off every time I encounter one. If Taxicab Depressions is to continue, I want the world to see it. And that is the plan; I will still post here, as long as the market will bear it. If people truly like my work and are willing to patronize it, I will continue. If you know my work, you know I won’t be writing for Weekly Standard or Wall Street Journal anytime soon, so you guys will decide the future of this blog.
So, if people decide they want more and will support me this way, here’s what will happen. I’ll write a post, and my patrons will be able to see it 24 or 48 hours in advance on Patreon, and then it will go up on my site. You can view it first at Patreon, or just wait for it to appear here. But patrons should get some sort of spiff, so I’ll do an occasional “patrons only” post, or maybe give you guys excerpts or chapters of the book before it is published… or maybe “deleted scenes” that don’t make the book. I’ll find a way to give you guys something special.
The bottom line is that I will continue to post on this blog when I can, but the frequency of posts will be directly related to how busy I am with other more lucrative projects in my life. If I am busy with my wife’s real estate work, writing a political essay that doesn’t pay can’t be a priority.
On the other hand, if every member of this mailing list pledged just one dollar, that would assure you of at least two posts a month. Two dollars per essay would be a blessing beyond belief. If every member of this list pledged three dollars, that would change all the math in my household.
So it is up to you guys… patronizing my blog not only gets this site maintained with new political essays and thoughts on current events, it also gets my book published quicker, and it might also get my first novel published, an idea I’ve been toying with and jotting down notes on for a few months now, about the Realignment of America… think The Pig Trap, taken to its’ logical conclusion.
But hey, people have their own problems, and I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody patronized me. The economy sucks for most of us, though I am hopeful that Trump can turn that around in a year or two. I’m just a dumbass ex-taxi driver with a bad attitude and a low threshold for bullshit, that only writes these political rants for psychological therapy and the hope that my voice will somehow be heard by someone that can help fix this country. Sometimes I look at the state of America, and I feel like I’m the only passenger on the Titanic that seems to be aware of any problem, like I’m yelling in the ballroom, “Hey! Am I the only one that has noticed that this beautiful parquet dance floor is ankle-deep in seawater?”
But I would like to continue, and I intend to continue, though I can’t shake the thought that a political blog called Taxicab Depressions isn’t the best marketing. As to the frequency of my posts, it’s all up to you guys. My Patreon page is www.patreon.com/TaxiHack.
If you were to share that link with friends and family on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere, I’d be honored.
So buy me a beer… I have good stories to tell…