My friend drives taxi in Myrtle Beach. He is one of many hard workers who struggle to eke out a living here in the winter.
MV Stoker is responsible for all the gas he uses. His cab company has exclusive rights to park and wait at designated spots, but he must pay a $3 stand fee every day. He also pays what he refers to as “seed” money — a fee of $3 to $6 to hotel desk clerks or representatives when they send a ride his way. That fee varies on the length or destination of the trip.
Why shouldn’t the cab company pay these fees? The company reaps the profits.
“Most days in the winter,” Stoker said, “all I’m doing is paying out as much money as I’m bringing in.”
Stoker is a veteran. He served seven years in the army in the late 70s and early 80s. He has spent much of his post-military career as a painter. I’ve seen his work. It’s masterful. No streaks. Not a drop on the floor. He’s driven cabs several times between painting gigs.
“In the old days, the cab companies paid for all the gas. There were none of these stupid fees. I made half the fare money and the company got the other half.”
Stoker has paid his dues in life, yet he nearly goes hungry in the off season.
“If it weren’t for food stamps, I wouldn’t have anything to eat, especially in the winter.”
He says that he is very lucky to live in a hotel in which the landlords work with him on his rent.
Stoker’s plight raises a larger issue. There is a lot of money to be made in the hospitality, restaurant, entertainment and services industries in this town. Very little of it is passed on to the workers. In Myrtle Beach there are the haves and the have nots, and the haves of the business world don’t care about the have nots. Period.
As my five or six faithful readers (thank you) already know, I find many hotel owners in this town to be — how can I put this nicely — disingenuous. Ah, the heck with being nice. It’s not exactly my forte anymore. They’re selfish, money-grubbing morons. I know several that were born with silver spoons in their mouths — handed everything yet parading around our beautiful hamlet as if they are better than others.
Well, I can’t throw all taxi company owners into that same fray. I don’t know enough about the business to do that. This I do know. The owner of the cabs my friend drives is a pretentious miscreant.
“Ahoy, mateys,” he advertises. “We go overboard to provide you with timely, quality service.”
He doesn’t advertise this: our workers are about ready to voluntarily walk the plank because we treat them like crap.
The Myrtle Beach elitists have the opinion that their workers can find another job if they don’t like eating rice cakes. Their selfishness and snobbery never cease to amaze me.
Sincerely, Rob Hufnagle. Dharma Beach Bum’s alter ego.