Before Stevens could answer, the girl pulled off her toga, revealing only her dainty tank top and panties. She then reached into the back of the car, hunted for her jeans, and got dressed. According to Stevens, she took her time. At the end of the ride, she tipped him $20.

About the most action I ever got came one night at the Little Knight in Costa Mesa. I was handing out DDA cards when a girl grabbed my crotch. She and some friends were sitting in a booth near the door. Actually, she first took hold of the volunteer badge hanging around my neck, dragged me close to her, and then grabbed my crotch. When I pulled away, she pinched my ass. The guy sitting next to her didn't seem too pleased, but the other girls at the table thought it was hilarious.

The very nature of the job is to cruise bars and talk to people—any people, beautiful people, beautiful women people. We have to talk to them. If we don't let people know the service is available, they won't call. If they don't call, I can't save lives or drive black Mercedes S500s with wood trim.

Drunks will often tell volunteers as we pass out DDA cards that we're "wonderful," "so great," "saviors," "shaints" and so on.

"You're an angel," one drunk Huntington Beach girl told my partner Betty—a financial advisor in her mid-20s—during a ride one night. "Are you a virgin?"

Of course, people have also asked if I was a criminal completing my court-ordered community service or if I was part of some Christian prayer group and the price for a ride home was a preachy sermon. Many times, they seemed almost disappointed when I said no to both questions.

People seem to love us when we pass through bars, handing out cards. Yet for the most part, they don't call. I often went through a box of 100 cards in a night—others will go through two or three—but when the night was over, we got just a dozen calls.

Sometimes people think we're a little cooler than we actually are. We don't normally roll on calls from private parties, but dispatch sent my partner and me to one to pick up a single girl during a particularly slow April night.

We arrived and asked the first guy we saw on the patio to let the girl know we were there. He sighed as two friends carried the girl over to us.

She looked 18, maybe younger. No one wanted to say what she'd consumed. She wasn't even conscious and had clearly vomited down the front of her blouse.

"Can you guys take her to the hospital?" my partner asked.

We looked at each other as the girl was seated in front of us on a couch. Other people came out on the patio and asked if we were EMTs.

"Look, this is way out of our league," I said, thinking of all the reasons why I wasn't going to let them pour that girl into my car. "We're not a taxi service. If you guys are serious about getting her to the hospital, you need to call an ambulance."

They asked again. My partner reiterated my concerns, this time more forcefully. We offered to call the ambulance for them.

"No, no," one girl said. "She'll be fine." She sat down next to the still-unconscious girl and partially revived her. "You're okay, right? Yeah, she'll be okay."

* * *

Most calls come in between 1:30 and 2 a.m., when the bars toss everyone out. Late one slow night before the calling time, my partner Dave and I were standing out front of the Blue Beet near the taxi queue, hoping some drunk might see our badges and let us and not some cabbie take him or her home. It had happened before, and we had nothing else to do anyway.

A bunch of people were standing outside the Blue Beet's $1 taco window, ordering and waiting. One tall guy started talking loudly to another in line.

"It's cool, man," he kept saying. "It's cool. You know it's cool, man."

The guy ignored him a while, then turned around and lunged at him. The others in line stepped back as the two guys gripped each other and fell to the ground wrestling.

It was eerily quiet. Neither fighter said a word. They rolled around on the ground an agonizingly long time as everyone stood around—including Dave and I—and watched. Soon people began piling on trying to separate the two guys, but nothing would break the mutual death grips. Someone told security. As one guard and then another raced out of the Blue Beet and pulled the guys apart, a girl who had been standing nearby watching suddenly walked forward and kicked one of the fighters in the crotch.

"What the fuck are you doing?!" yelled one of the guards.

"Fuck you!" the girl yelled back.

The guard and girl yelled at each other as the two fighters dusted themselves off and went their separate ways.

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