A firefighter lifts a filthy mattress. Nothing.
“Sorry,’’ the firefighter tells the cabbie. “You can call the police.’’
It’s 1:15 a.m., and the driver, already deprived of about two hours of wages, cuts his losses.
The reporter expects no sympathy at Boston Cab, where “the most important thing’’ is money in the drop box.
And he gets none.
After every shift, the reporter fills his gas tank at a station less than three blocks away. He pumps until the gas gurgles over, once onto his shoes.
Yet when he reaches the garage one night, the gas attendant tells him he owes the company an additional $2.09.
“How is that possible?’’ an attendant is asked, told about the overflowing gas tank.
“It happens to everyone,’’ the attendant says, shrugging.
The practice can be a boon for Boston Cab. If every driver pays an additional $1 for gas, for example, the company could possibly reap as much as $100,000 a year.
Boston Cab also charges the $5 waiver to subsidize its self-insurance program. The Globe reporter purchased that insurance Nov. 4 hours before a motorist ran a red light at Stuart and Clarendon streets, totaling the 2011 Camry hybrid taxi he was driving.
The cabbie and his two passengers are taken by ambulance to Tufts Medical Center. The passengers suffer facial injuries, the reporter a minor head injury.
At 3:20 a.m., Boston Cab gets a call from the cabbie’s hospital bed, notifying the company of the accident.
“I got the cab. It’s OK,” the manager said before abruptly hanging up.
Days later, the driver severs his brief relationship with Boston’s biggest fleet. He returns to the basement garage and says he has had enough of the city’s crazy drivers. His security deposit is returned and he is told to keep in touch about accident-related issues.
Seated nearby is Tutunjian, the former cabbie turned taxi tycoon. He is eating a sandwich and watching ESPN. He has heard the reporter explain why he is walking away.
“Would you want to drive a cab out there today?’’ the reporter asks him.
The king of Boston cabs makes only brief eye contact and turns back to his television. His lips move, but only to take another bite of his sandwich.
Matt Carroll of the Globe staff performed database analysis for this project.