For Sandra Perez, driving around all day is just part of the job.
Driving cabs for almost a year, Perez began her career after using a cab during a period of unemployment.
“I started talking to the cab drivers,” Perez says. “They seemed pretty nice, pretty genuine. They were like, ‘You should try it.’ I decided one day I am going to try it. It doesn’t hurt to try. So I did.”
After applying with Clean Air Cab she received a call to come in for training. “I’ve always loved driving. I have a good sense of direction. I only need to be one place, one time to remember.”
Based in Mesa, driving a taxi has taken her all over the Valley. Perez says, “I’ve been everywhere and to everything in between,” typically working a 12-hour shift, 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
As a female driver, Perez says she feels safe out there each day. “I pray over my cab every day. I know I have God on my side. I know I feel OK. I have nothing to be afraid of.” She explains for the most part it’s a safe job. “It’s been a great experience for me.”
“I was going through a difficult time when I got this job,” Perez says. “So I looked at this job as 12 hours of therapy.”
A former self-proclaimed introvert, Perez says this job has pulled her out of her shell. “Now I can say I’m an extrovert. I’ve gained remarkable people skills because of this job.”
Even if a customer seems standoffish, Perez says she tries “to find the good in everybody.”
She says she enjoys relating to the people in her taxi. She’s on a path and feels blessed to be in her position. “I’ve always got pep in my step.”
Best Story: “I get different odd balls every now and then. I don’t have anything really crazy. I’ve had people tell me some crazy things—what they’re experiencing, but something crazy happening to me, no.” Perez says people open up to her in the back seat, telling her things you wouldn’t typically hear.
Skipped fares: She’s had some runners—ASU students who ran away when she dropped them off. “I couldn’t track them. I didn’t worry about them. I just moved on to the next person.”
Repeat fares: She tries not to get too personal, but she has become acquainted with a 92-year-old regular. “She’s an amazing woman. As repeat customers, people do try to call me and if I’m available then I will [pick them up].”
“Sir Charles:”Perez dubbed her cab “Sir Charles.” “He’s been with me from almost the beginning. Most men name their cars…so I went ahead and gave him a name.” She even changed the GPS in the taxi so that he has an Australian accent.
Lost and Found:Besides the usual cellphones and glasses, Perez says the most unusual item she’s found is a can of whipped cream. “I heard it rolling around and thought it was maybe my water bottle.”
Night and Day: Perez usually drives her taxi during the day, but has ventured out after dark. “It’s literally night and day. Nights are different. I love the positive energy. The people that I’m taking to the bars, it’s awesome…People are ready to go. After midnight people are a little more intoxicated, a little more inebriated. They’re fun—some of the people can get a little crazy.”