Some days it can be quite difficult figuring out where and what to eat. I eat relatively healthy and from clean eateries. This is a problem in some sections of the city. Lunch is kept to a maximum of $10. My favorites are Krause’s carved turkey breast sandwiches from Lexington Market or Shore’s Seafood’s steamed fish and broccoli at Northeast Market, in addition to Eddie’s lunch specials and Whole Foods’ wraps in northwest Baltimore. Their food is always fresh. Faidley’s of Lexington Market’s crab cakes are delicious and a treat but that’s stretching it on a cab driver’s income.
Basically, I take a half-hour for lunch every day, most times eating in certain establishments and, when pressed, in the cab. My choice on this particular day was Panda Express located in the Reisterstown Road Plaza parking lot; and I decided to eat in the cab after booking in that cab zone. The rule of thumb in this business is availability at all times.
I accepted a call from the computer just as I finished lunch. It was to meet an individual standing outside a disabled tractor-trailer truck at the intersection of Northern Parkway and Wabash. His destination was the truck terminal located in Jessup, Maryland.
He flagged me down as the cab approached. “That was fast,” he said, and then repeated his destination that I already knew from the computer.
“Sir, the name of the game in this business is to respond quickly when calls are dispatched,” I told him. “If not, people will leave or find other means.” This was a good job, around 50 bucks, so it was to my advantage to respond quickly.
“So, what happened to your truck?”
“The gear box locked up,” he said. “My dispatcher was contacted. He dispatched a tow truck and told me to catch a cab back to base. These trucks are pushed hard up and down the eastern seaboard. The owners are extremely greedy and quite frankly become merciless with the drivers for not dropping their freight on time. Basically, these truck problems can be prevented if maintained properly.”
“It’s all about money, huh?”
“There’s lot of money to be made in this industry,” he said. “Trucks move the country!”
“That, they do.”
“My company handles short and long runs up and down the coast. The longer runs pay good money, but many times it’s difficult to get those jobs.”
“Man, I’m new to the company and the longer trips come with baggage.”
“Well, you have to be in the loop, like who you know, in addition to the in-kind favors.”
“I hear you, sir, say no more.”
“These days, corruption seems to be the way of the world,” he said. “Anyway, I’ve done well since picking up this trade and being in this industry. There’s always work with my truck driving experiences somewhere.”