In poker, some players never learn from disaster. In real life, the same is often true. We'll return to poker, but first, I want to share a true story that happened to me in Lake Tahoe, when I was manager of Yellow Cab in North Shore about 15 years ago. I had worked all day, and was relaxing later at night playing in a $10/$20 hold'em game with a half kill, at the Hyatt in Incline Village. I was winning $1,400 and having a great night, until the phone rang.
My dispatcher said, "Tom, you better get out here, as we have a total disaster happening!"
I said, "Why, what has happened?"
The dispatcher went on, "All I know at this point, is we sent our female cab driver, Suzie, to a bar called The Good Times in Incline Village… and instead of picking up the passenger, our driver ran over the passenger, and I understand the lady she was supposed to pick up, is trapped under the vehicle, mangled, and being burned by the catalytic converter! The driver can't move the cab forward or backward, and a tow truck has been called to the scene to lift the cab up in the air, as well as a helicopter from Washoe Med. You're only two miles away from all of this, so you better get out there right now!"
After hearing this, I asked, "Do you have any other messages for me?" There are times in life, you just have to cash out of the poker game you're playing in; this was one of those moments! I got over there quick, following the flood light of the helicopter hovering over this unbelievable scene, and couldn't believe my eyes, as the tow truck began lifting the back of the cab up. The poor lady looked like she was dead, and I asked myself, how in the world could this have happened?? As it turned out, this lady had gone into this bar completely drunk, and began grabbing customers' drinks off the bar and gulping them down. The bartender said, "Hey lady, you can't do that! These customers have paid for these drinks. Please stop, or I'll have to call the police!" One of the customers said "Oh no, don't do that… she just needs a cab called for her, and needs to get home."
So, our lucky female driver was dispatched to the bar, and when she went in and asked, who called for the cab, the customers pointed out this mean drunk at the end of the bar. Our driver, Suzie, was immediately cussed out very loudly, as the drunk lady wanted nothing to do with a cab ride. Our driver put her hands up and said, "OK — no problem, ma'am — don't worry about it… it's OK."
That's when the drunk lady's boyfriend spoke up and said, Judy, I've had it with you. Everyone is trying to help you get home safe, and you just won't listen!!" "I'm out of here!" About one minute after the boyfriend left the bar, Judy wobbled out the back door to look for him. She could barely walk, and walked around the side of the bar that had a downhill alley. She passed out about 10 feet from the top, and unfortunately, the next vehicle to leave, with its headlights up, wouldn't be able to see the body. This was a disaster waiting to happen!
Our unlucky cab driver said she was worried about the lady, and went to look for her, to give her a free cab ride home. She unfortunately ran over the hidden body, and got out to see what felt like running over a log! When she saw she ran over the lady, the cab driver completely freaked out, running into the bar screaming hysterically to call the police, fire department, and ambulance, and everyone else!
Well, back to my arriving at the scene watching the tow truck in disbelief, as a big detective tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I understand you run this operation."
"Well, now you have a bigger problem, as our job is to look for prescriptions or drugs when there is a possible death at the scene of the accident, and look what I found in your female driver's purse!" He showed me her lighter, where the bottom of it swiveled out, showing a package of cocaine! It looked like my driver was taking or selling drugs, and I couldn't believe it. I had this horrible image running through my mind of massive litigation, as my driver is not picking up the passengers, but instead, running over them, toting cocaine around! The detective said, "Your driver is going to be tested for drugs, and there will be some extra papers for you to fill out at the station."
A cab driver's fate is sealed, when they are arrested for drugs. This is pretty standard policy. It is immediate dismissal, but of course, all the damage is done already. I hated to make the phone call to the owner of the cab company to explain the incident that had happened, and asked him first, "Are you sitting down?"
After I explained all of this, he very calmly said. "Well, we've had drivers caught with drugs before, and drivers who ran over people, but never the combination."
I'm happy to tell you that the lady who was run over lived, if only after about five months in the hospital. It has been reported that she never learned from this disaster though, as she still drinks heavily, and now looks at all cabs, as her enemy for life. It's a turnover business, driving a cab, as a new driver was holding the cab stand at Stateline recently, and called the dispatcher about some drunk lady that was screaming at him, kicking his cab, and shouting that she is going to blow it up! The dispatcher said, "Oh, don't worry about her… she is the one we ran over about 15 years ago — just ignore her and she will go away. All cabs are her enemy in life now, when she is drinking… it's OK, you haven't done anything wrong, just ignore her." The confused and perplexed new driver just locked his doors with the windows up, and would wait out this fiasco, until the lady would tire and leave. Sometimes it isn't easy out there driving a cab!
The main point is some people never learn from disaster, as most normal people would never take another drop of liquor the rest of their life, after going through such a terrible experience, as this lady did. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story, as we examine the ins and outs of this, looking at poker players' behavior at the tables. The importance of learning from disaster in the poker world is paramount to having any chance to succeed, not only from what we do, but how we learn what not to do, watching others give themselves zero chance to win.
The Cab is Parked,
Tom Sexton is a featured columnist for PokerNews.com. Tom attended the University of Oklahoma on a full gymnastic scholarship, where he was captain of the team four straight years, becoming the first NCAA All-American and Big Eight Champion in OU's gymnastics history in 1968. The Sexton family is well established in poker and includes Tom's brother Mike, the World Poker Tour commentator and poker's "First Ambassador", as voted by his peers. Tom welcomes your thoughts and comments about any of his articles. His e-mail is TSStarbuck1@aol.com.