Take A Taxi; Get Home Safely - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/31/04

Take A Taxi; Get Home Safely

Jack Gazzo actually looks forward to seeing intoxicated New Year's Eve passengers climb into his cab.

"You learn to work with them," he said while sitting in his taxi. "And you always have a barf bag, in case they have a barf problem."

The Biloxi City Cab driver will pick up more passengers right after midnight than any other night of the year.

He said it will be "very hectic. But you love it because you're out there taking care of the customer that has to go home without driving himself home."

William Young could be one of Gazzo's passengers.

"Where do I have to go to get the passes for the cabs?" Young asked at Rex Distributing's Gulfport headquarters.

The passes are "This Ride's For You" cards distributed by Rex and its parent company Anheuser Busch. Harrison and Jackson County people with the cards can get a free cab ride home, something Young may need.

"I don't want to be drinking and driving," he said. "They're going to be out having roadblocks and everything tonight. And I don't think it would be very wise drinking and driving."

Rex Distributing delivered 17,000 cases of beer to stores and bars to help their customers ring in the New Year. Last month the beer distributor sent City Cab $1,200 to offset the cost of the free rides home.

Chuck Polite works for Rex.

"We supply all the beer to these bars," he said from the warehouse. "They need to make sure these people are home after the new year, make sure they get home okay."

If Jack Gazzo gets the call, getting people home okay becomes his responsibility. And this cab driver is more than ready for the New Year's challenge.

"I love this business," he said. "I consider myself not a taxi driver. I consider myself being a gulf coast tourist information bureau."

The only way you can take advantage of the free City Cab ride is if you have the Budweiser card. And the only way you can get cards on New Year's Eve is if bartenders still have them.

by Brad Kessie

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