Tales of an Airport Taxi Dispatcher: LAX Incident Report Edition

Douglas Wayne Ricketts
18 min readSep 19, 2022

Settle in children, let me tell you a tale! About Karens disguised as taxicab drivers at Los Angeles International Airport… July/October/November 2010 Incident Report Edition. I also met David Lynch, Tim Robbins, and Xeni Jardin while working there. That was kinda fun.

07/07/2010: At Approx 21:30 a driver walked to the booth and began complaining to Marcy (who was monitoring the radio) that we were lying about the number of spaces available in the lot. I was handling ticket printing and told him we were not and that I had handled the calls from dispatchers & drivers asking about space in the lot. The driver became very agitated and started shouting. He yelled that the person who talked to his dispatcher was saying there were only two rows in the lot full during a time he was on the lot and that he could see about ten rows were full. I remembered the call he was referring to and told him that I had told that dispatcher we had about two rows OPEN (I distincly recall enunciating the word open) and that we were busy and she should have her drivers “come on over.” He remained irate and insisted I did not know what I was doing.

I asked him if he wanted to speak to a Supervisor and he said that he wanted to deal with me. I asked him name and he would not state it. I also asked him to calm down. He did not want to do so. I told him I was going to call a Supervisor and Marcy called for one on the radio. The driver, who Marcy later told me was named Paul, left the booth to get his car and wait for a Supervisor. When it came time for him to get his ticket (for airport terminal stand access) no Supervisor had come to the booth. Paul wanted to start the discussion with me again and I had to tell him twice that I would not be speaking to him about the situation without a Supervisor present. He insisted that Seyd (the Supervisor on duty) should meet him at the terminal he was assigned. We gave him a pickup ticket and he left the holding lot.

After a few minutes Marcy received a phone call. I could tell she was talking to Paul because she said, “The way you come at people is WRONG, PAUL!” After explaining to him the nature of the issue as described above, she said, “Oh… see… you’re LAUGHING now!”

Seyd called me on the phone and stated he had been busy at another terminal. He asked if everything was okay and I stated it was except for being yelled at by an angry driver. About half an hour later multiple Supervisors came to the booth but by then the driver was long gone and the issue had been put aside. I spoke with Seyd and Bernard about the incident. They recommended the best way to tell the cab dispatchers how the holding lot availability is in order to “avoid people’s inability to understand grammar.” Seyd also suggested I fill out this report.

An aside; at one point many people were in the ticket booth and wanted to know which driver was acting in such a manner. I said “1194” and nearly ALL of the employees exclaimed, “AWWWW!”

Clearly, this driver has a reputation for being difficult. I have made a mental note of his number and will let the Supervisors know if I have any more issues flung my way by him.

10/14/2010: I was working stand 1-A the evening of October 14, 2010. LAX construction equipment was taking up a good portion of the taxi zone, leaving room for only one or two cabs. There was a heavy amount of traffic and I found myself struggling to keep cars which weren’t cabs out of the little zone I had left. After a very large flight arrived and things had been very busy, a little time passed before I realized a Traffic Officer was across the street, standing under the area where the buses & shuttles stop, spitting sunflower seeds all over the place. I motioned to him at one point and stated, “You’re doing an excellent job sir!” He seemed not to notice me. After loading some more passengers in the crowded area I got his attention and asked, “Are you on duty?” He stated he was. I asked him why he wasn’t directing traffic and added the construction was making things ridiculous. He said I shouldn’t “worry” about it. I told him he wasn’t doing his job and he said, “Yes I am.” I told him that was a lie since I had been directing traffic to keep what little of my cab space free as well as to help my drivers leave the area when they had passengers. He then called ME a liar! I stated I was going to file a report on him. I asked for his badge number and name and he gave them to me; 1366 and Mala, respectively.

Later, I spoke with a couple supervisors about the incident and they indicated it would probably be futile to file a report. So, I didn’t do so.

Today, I was told by Richard that I shouldn’t “threaten” Traffic Officers. At first I didn’t know what he was referring to, but then I remembered the incident and let him know what it was about. I don’t threaten people, including Traffic Officers.

Since it seems the officer who wasn’t doing his job complained about the encounter, I am filing this report for the edification of all interested parties.

11/3/2010: I was working on T-6 and had ordered three cabs for cover. 1142 was the second cab which arrived while I was checking my first cab’s ticket. The driver of 1142 got out of his cab and as I walked to his car I noticed An old ticket was under his car’s windshield. I said, “That looks like your old ticket. Do you have your new one?” He seemed confused so I said, “I need your ticket.” He fumbled around in his cab and handed it to me while muttering something about “not knowing shit.” I asked him what he was talking about and he stated something about “shit” again. I told him I just needed to check his ticket and that the one on his windshield was an old one. I also asked him if he understood what I meant. He told me I didn’t know my job and wanted to argue, but frankly I can’t figure out what exactly there was for him to argue about. I thought maybe the problem was that he didn’t understand what I meant when I stated the ticket under his windshield was “old” and asked him if he knew what that word meant. He responded by saying, “I DO. Do you?!” and repeated his claim that I didn’t know my job. I told him when drivers don’t give me their tickets it makes my job difficult and turned my attention to the next cab which had arrived at the stand.

A few moments later I loaded the first cab at my stand. I then loaded a passenger for 1142. As I was preparing to give the passenger his ticket the driver (who was standing on the opposite side of the car from me) called out, “Do your job!” As I handed the passenger his ticket I stated, “I am doing my job.” I said to the passenger “Have a nice night” as he closed the car door and I and looked up to see what the driver was doing. Still standing next to his car, he placed his head close to the roof and said, “Fuck you.” I said, “You have a passenger. Please go.” He got in the cab and continued to yell at me through the open window, “Fuck you! You don’t know your job!” I let him know that I would be filling out a report on this incident and he drove away.

11/3/2010: When cab 6402 arrived at my stand the drivers were out of order and another had already asked me to check the tickets to verify what it was supposed to be. The driver of 6402 watched me do this but made no comment about it at the time. After doing so, I noticed his cab was quite a ways away from the stand, in the second white curb zone past the T-6 area. I asked him to back up after the first cab was loaded. He did so but went very slowly as if he was having a very hard time doing so. I was waving him back and told him through his passenger window that he was still on a crosswalk and had plenty of room to back up but then quickly turned my attention to load a passenger into another cab.

The driver of 6402 left his car partially parked on the crosswalk and got out. At this point his was the first cab up for loading. As he, I, and another driver met on the sidewalk behind his car, a traveler with a very thick accent who needed directions stated she wanted to get to Seattle and held a printed itinerary up for me to read. As I looked at it, I asked which airline and she said, “American.” I pointed her in the direction of American Airlines then quickly turned my attention to a passenger who I noticed was approaching the group. The passenger looked at me and asked a question related to the price and distance to her destination. While I prepared to tell her the driver was here to ask, 6402’s driver exclaimed in my right ear, “You need to learn Spanish!” I tried to address the passenger again but as I was doing so he stated the woman who was not a taxi passenger (who had walked away at this point) was looking for something other than American Airlines. It made no sense to me that he wanted to fight about a person who was not a taxi passenger. I looked at him and said, “This passenger has a question for you.” The woman asked her question and made it clear she knew it was only a short distance trip. He told her it would be $17.50 for the ride and she stated she’d pay him $20 for it, making clear that she planned to tip him at least $2.50. The driver of 6402 said something I can’t remember which seemed to upset the woman and she looked at me as if pleading for help. I stated, “If you’re uncomfortable I recommend the next cab.” She said that would be fine.

As she was getting into her cab I thought aloud this might be a refusal but immediately realized it wasn’t because technically she was choosing the car. At that point, the driver of 6402 began calling me “mother fucker” from a car’s length away and exclaiming he was going to make me lose my job. As I ignored him and handed the passenger her ticket she thanked me for loading her into the other cab.

The driver of 6402 continued to yell profanities and state he was going to make me lose my job. I said to him, “I didn’t say this WAS a refusal. I wish it was one… but it’s NOT.” He still would not calm down and continued trying to pester me in a very loud and belligerent manner. I told him I was going to call a supervisor and that I would not speak to him again or load his cab until one arrived.

Richard arrived at the stand a few moments later and I spoke with him about the incident. He addressed the driver of 6402 and moved his cab to T-7.

11/7/2010: I was working at taxi stand 3-A the evening of Sunday, November 7th. I had loaded all the cabs which had arrived and had more passengers in line. At the front of the line were a woman and a man. The gentleman was in a wheelchair which belonged to an airport service. I asked if they required a wheelchair-accessible van and the woman said, “No.”

Cab #3611 arrived at my stand. I checked his trip record and picked up one of the passengers’ three bags. The driver of #3611 got out of his cab, rushed to the trunk area, and exclaimed angrily, “Don’t load the luggage! It’s too much!” I placed the piece of luggage in my hands on the ground and he again stated, “I’ll load it!”

I tried to tell him the passengers only had three pieces but he ignored me and repeated his claim that it was too much luggage, adding it was also too many people. I pointed out that the two passengers standing in line next to the couple were not with them. He seemed confused and still angry, then said something like, “Well, what about the wheelchair?” I told him the chair belonged to the airport and stated very slowly & clearly that the entire load consisted of three pieces of luggage and two people.

His demeanor changed a bit and he seemed to be forced himself to come across as nice. As the passengers were getting in the car and the luggage was being loaded he said things like “You take your job too seriously!” He also claimed I should “lighten up.” This amused me since he was the one who had been acting like something was terribly wrong.

After loading the passengers he became nasty again and tried to get a rise out of me. He growled at me, “Quit being a little bitch!” I ignored his pathetic attempt to engage me in a useless argument. He repeated his juvenile comment as he got into his cab, saying it loud enough for everyone waiting at my stand to hear it. I told him I would be happy to have him be the next driver I write a report about and he responded by muttering something I didn’t hear. He then drove away from the stand.

Later that same evening, cab #3611 returned to my stand to pick up more passengers. When I asked him for his trip ticket he did not hand it to me. Instead, he tossed it onto the car’s front passenger seat like a petulant child. I reached through the open window, picked up the ticket, and said, “Thank you sir” as calmly as possible. He stared out his front window and did not respond. Passengers were loaded into his cab and he drove away.

11/11/2010: At approximately 9pm a young lady carrying one small bag and wearing a backpack approached my taxi stand and asked for help. Her dialect was foreign but her words were understandable. She seemed very scared and wanted to know the fastest way to get from 1-A to the United terminal. A cab driver (not the driver of #6459, he’ll show up later in this report) was standing next to me and listening to the whole conversation. Assuming she was in a hurry to make a flight connection, I asked her what time her flight was scheduled to depart. She procured a printed itinerary which indicated she needed to be at the United gate for departure at 9:15pm. I stated she could take a taxi and that there would be a total minimum charge of $17.50 ($15.00 minimum trip plus $2.50 airport fee). I also pointed out that the terminal was about five minutes away if she hurried across the sidewalk and between the parking garages. She stated someone else had told her to take an airport shuttle and I told her where she could board it. Traffic was very busy and I added if I was her I wouldn’t count on the shuttle coming in time to get her to the United terminal before her flight was scheduled to leave. She hesitated, seeming to take a moment to process the discussion. While she did that, I turned to the driver who had been listening and asked if he would be prepared to take her to United as long as she paid the minimum charge. He indicated that would be fine. I turned back to her and she stared at me blankly. I suggested she decide what she wants to do quickly because she didn’t have much time to get to her flight. She asked how close the United terminal was and I told her again. She decided to go by foot and walked away from the taxi stand. As she left the driver who had been prepared to take her as a passenger and I loaded a different passenger into his cab and he drove away.

After calling in the load, I noticed the young lady as she began to cross the street at the crosswalk. After taking a few steps, she suddenly turned around and returned to my stand. She asked about the shuttle bus again. I told her where it stopped but suggested she really needed to hurry by traveling by foot or taking a taxi so she didn’t miss her flight. Another passenger, a lady who was not waiting for a taxi but was close to my stand, had apparently been listening to our conversations and said, “She seems scared. Let me help.” She explained to the young lady the same things I had said, asking her things like “Where are you from?” (Morocco) and so forth. After another moment, the young lady decided she wanted to take a taxi.

Here’s the point where the driver of cab #6459 comes in.

His car was at the front of the line and he was standing at the rear of his cab, near the partially-opened trunk. I stated, clearly and deliberately to make sure he heard me over the noise of the crowd, “This lady needs to get to the United terminal. She’s trying to catch a flight and knows the minimum fare.”

His response was ridiculous.

He began shouting, “YOU DO NOT TALK TO ME THAT WAY!”

I was flabbergasted by his inane attempt to claim I was mistreating him. I ignored his nonsense and said, “This lady is in a HURRY. Will you be a gentleman and take her?”

He again shouted that I had “no right” to speak to him in the manner I did. I repeated, “Will you be a gentleman and take her?”

He began ranting about the minimum fare, somewhat muttering to himself in a manner I’ve noticed quite a few drivers do when they don’t want to take a passenger. He addressed me with an increasingly agitated voice, “WHAT ABOUT OTHER DRIVER? IS REFUSAL?”

I told him SHE had declined the use of the driver who had left and explained that she had walked away then changed her mind. I cemented the concept by adding, “That means this is NOT a refusal.”

He yelled at me. “I COME BACK? YOU GIVE ME ANOTHER LOAD?”

I am constantly amazed at the way some drivers think they have a right to circumvent A.T.S. procedures.

I answered him. “Of COURSE NOT. You go back to the lot.”

He muttered something I couldn’t hear. I loaded the young lady into his cab. I apologized to her for the driver’s dramatics, handed her the trip records, and wished her well on her trip. He drove away and I called in the load.

11/17/2010: I was working on stand T-6. A passenger told me he needed to pay for his ride using a credit card and wanted me to make sure the first driver who arrived would be okay with that. Three cabs arrived at my stand. The first in line was #6520. I asked him for his trip ticket, told him the passenger wanted to pay with a credit card, and asked him if he was going to be okay with that. The driver, who was still sitting in his cab, blurted out, “Where is he going?”

I told him it’s not my job to ask that and I turned to tell the passenger the driver wanted to know where he was going. Before I could, the driver shouted through the window, “Where are you going?”

The passenger stated his destination was Santa Monica. The driver of #6520 appeared frustrated. I asked the driver if he was going to take the load or if he was going to give the driver behind him a Refusal. He said nothing for a few seconds, remained sitting in his cab, and began muttering to himself. I asked him again and he still did not answer the question directly.

I walked toward the cab which was behind #6520. As I prepared to tell the driver he was going to get a refusal for taking the passenger who wanted to pay by credit card, the driver of #6520 exited his cab rapidly and began exclaiming, “What you are doing is wrong! You don’t know your job!”

I focused my attention on the driver of #6520. I asked him, again, if he was going to take the passenger. He said he would. As the passenger and I loaded his luggage into the cab’s trunk, the driver of #6520 continued trying to tell me I didn’t know my job and that I was somehow doing something wrong. I told the passenger he could request use of the next cab if it seemed like a better choice for him and the passenger said he’s dealt with angry drivers before and that he wouldn’t have a problem riding with him.

After the passenger was seated in the cab and the door was closed, the driver of #6520 continued to try to engage me in a useless confrontation. He repeated his claims that I was doing my job wrong. I said to him, “I’m doing my job. You’re doing your job. You have a passenger. Please go.”

The driver continued attempting to argue with me. At this point he was standing next to his cab’s trunk and I was on the curb, about seven or eight feet away. I reiterated, very calmly, “You have a passenger. Please go.”

At this point I did something which was innocuous to me but brutally offensive to him. I have developed a habit of writing down the numbers of the cabs I load when I have two or three on the stand. This allows me to call in the loads without having to memorize the numbers should there be so much radio activity that I have to wait a while to get my call in. The driver of #6520 exclaimed, “What are you doing? ARE YOU WRITING DOWN MY NUMBER!?!? ARE YOU GOING TO REPORT ME? I’M GOING TO THE BOOTH TO COMPLAIN ABOUT YOU!!!”

At the point that I wrote down his cab number I had no intention to write a report about this incident. Yes, you’re reading a report now. I decided later that if he was going to make false claims that I was doing my job wrong, then I should elucidate the scenario for clarity.

For the third time I stated, very calmly and somewhat slowly, “You have a passenger. Please go.”

He turned to get into his cab, still exclaiming that I was somehow doing something wrong, and looking at me as if he wanted to start an argument. I turned my attention to obtaining the next driver’s Trip Record as cab #6520 drove away.

The driver of the next cab said, “You know why he’s complaining? Because you are one of the best starters!”

I thanked him for saying that.

11/25/2010: On November 25th I was working at stand T-6. I had two very impatient passengers who were complaining about the time it was taking for cabs to arrive. Cab #1047 arrived and the passengers hurriedly loaded their luggage, got into the cab, and closed the cab’s door.

The driver sat in his seat and said nothing.

I knocked on the front passenger window to get his attention. I also tried to open the front passenger door. It was locked. I knocked on the window again and he slowly rolled down the window using the button on his left. I told him I needed to see his Trip Record. He seemed bothered by this and moved very slowly to hand me the Trip Record, making me place my whole arm through the window to reach it.

He stared at me as if I was doing something wrong. I checked the ticket’s accuracy. I then attempted to hand the paper to the passengers through the window between the cab’s front and back seats. As I was saying to the passengers, “Hang on to this for your records,” I felt a sharp pain in my right arm.

The driver had rolled up the window my arm was in. Whether he did this as a result of careless behavior is uncertain, but the way he had made me knock on the window twice, combined with the disdain he displayed while giving me the Trip Record, makes me think he did it on purpose.

I let out a noise of pain (something like, “GAH!”) and he rolled down the window barely enough for me to take my arm out of the cab. I stared at the driver for a moment, wondering if he was going to apologize or attempt to make some kind of excuse.

He said NOTHING.

I decided not to confront him regarding his reckless behavior in front of the passengers since they were in a rush. What I wanted to do was kick him in the face with my steel-toed boots. I kept my eyes on him as he slowly rolled the window up. He then drove away.

Picture of bruise

The attached picture shows the bruise which developed on my arm as a result of this incident. It is a long brown spot where my arm was pinched.

11/28/2010: Cab number 3362 arrived at stand #3-A at approximately 10:24pm on Sunday, 11/28. He didn’t give me his Trip Record until after passengers were loaded in his cab. Instead of 3-A, his ticket indicated he was supposed to go to T-5. I reminded him he was supposed to go where he was assigned and reported to the Monitoring Base that his cab was loaded.

I quit this crummy job nearly a month later. I’m guessing a lot of the angry cabbies are out of the job due to Uber and Lyft eating their profits. Not all cabbies I encountered are whiny greedy babies but way too many were for my tastes.

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Douglas Wayne Ricketts

I do things! Sometimes music or comedy is involved. Your mileage may vary.