Saturday, March 28, 2009

Flashback 1992

Early summer 1992. Jobs were scarce in Winnipeg. I had a tough time finding work so I decided to try driving taxi taking disabled people in wheel chairs. The van was an old Dodge Extended Van. This thing was huge - bigger than a full-sized pickup truck. It ran on propane fuel, due to the fact that propane cost 0.19 cents per liter back then. Driving it was horrendous. There was no power, it stunk of propane when you filled it, and was like driving a dump truck. You worked 10 hour shifts back then. And sometimes you'd work "On-call" during the evenings and get calls from drunk people in wheelchairs. Fun stuff.

Heaviest dude on a chair must have been an easy 450 pounds. I couldn't push the guy up the ramp he was so fat. I had to get two people to help me do it. I once transported a poor sick girl in a hospital bed - a horrendous experience for the girl, myself, and the mother. You were paid a percentage on the total trip commission. Often I had to write down my route in advance on paper so I wouldn't get lost. GPS's didn't exist back then so you had to buy good maps.

Driving in traffic in this van would be considered a slow death. The mechanics of driving were not hard but the mental toughness in dealing with asshole drivers on a day in and day out basis got to me. After 4 months of doing this shit I landed a job at a Mohawk gas station for $5.5 per hour. Guess what? My first pay check at the gas station was 40% more than what I was getting at the asshats who ran the disabled taxi company. They were thieves.

Three things I learned about pumping gas:


1. The job sucks
2. Customers are asshats.
3. Pay attention

Back in the early 90's there was a big coupon scam going around. People would try to sell coupons to gas station attendants for say $20 bucks. Then the gas station attendant would redeem those coupons on customers who purchased gas but did not have coupons. In effect, the attendent would pocket the coupon money. In reality, this never happened because people always watch the money. We used to get this old guy who just bought a brand new Ford Fiesta hatchback. Back then, this car was worth - what? $9 grand tops. He never let anyone pump his gas and he always used a towel to protect his precious car's paint. Oh and the best part? He always used premium gas. He truly was a douchebag. The coolest car we had go through the pumps was an Acura NSX. The car was money and the young guy driving it knew it too. There was one odd customer that would always come in this old 80's buick with his young 10-year old son. They'd never leave the car but he'd always ask for weird amounts of gas, like $4.00 or $5.00 or even $2.75. The car was absolutely hideous inside, filled with old food wrappers and lots of garbage. The man was a bit dirty himself and a little over weight. People really are strange.

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