"Some people are idiots. This is an inescapable fact of life. Accept this, and move on."
The past few days have been miserable. Not because of work (in fact, I had the weekend off), but because of the weather. Its been hot, humid and horrible. When the sun isn't baking the world, the sky erupts in lightning storms so fierce, it is clear that God is sick of humanity, but unsure of what to do about it.
Conversely, work has been good. Summer is always good. In a country that spends nine months out of the year in gloom and darkness, every moment of sunshine is precious. And so, during summer, people crawl out of their holes. It also helps that people tend to take their vacations during this time. And we all know what happens to Johnny Swede when he has a day off, don't we?
That's right, he gets drunk. And in order to get drunk, he needs a bar. And in order to get to the bar, he needs transportation. And that's where I come in. I bring them, the bartender fills them, and I take them away. And with the drunks returned to their homes, the circle of life is complete. Summer is lucrative and really the only time of year driving a cab is worth anything.
"All right, Crabby", I hear you groan. "We get it. You make money off drunken party people. What else is new?"
There will be no insights tonight. No musings. Just a story.
The shift had been good. I usually don't work on tuesdays, but this week (and the next few to come) I've resolved to milk July for all its worth. I started late, yet somehow managed to keep an excellent pace, pulling in an average of 500 sek / hour. Aside from an incident with a female passenger who was so drunk she couldnt do anything but lay in the back seat crying hysterically (thank GOD for her boyfriend who carried her out, saving my spine in the process), things had been cool, fun even.
And the end of the shift was approaching rapidly. I was down on Frigga Street to pick up some fellow who was going to Gold Heath. I was a few minutes early, so I settled into my seat and resolved to make the minutes pass in any way I could.
Suddenly, in the gloomy distance, I saw a bike; one of those big, three wheeled contraptions used by newspaper delivery men. Nothing too strange. After all, drunks and cabbies aside, the paperboys (and girls... paper people?) are a common sight in the small hours. But something was not right about the people riding the bike. First and foremost, it was people riding the bike, not a person.
A quick note about the paper people (Yes, it's a term now): These are not kids biking through the neighbourhood, throwing papers at people's doors. They are men and women who will drag their sorry carcasses through snow, wind, slush and brimstone, climb a million stairs to make sure that each household, each apartment gets their magazines. They are also paid peanuts.
Thus, the people you find doing that job is the same you'll find at any bottom rung: the fuckups, the inexperienced, the racially discriminated, all the unseen losers that keep the wheels of society greased and turning.
So. Back to the story.
Riding the bike was a girl and a boy. A regular Daisy, looking sweet upon a seat on a bicycle built for one, while her boyfriend rode on the carrier behind her. This was my first bell.
None were wearing any kind of uniform. Second bell.
The guy was your typical wealthy, healthy brat prince of the world; coasting along on his parent's money (and his girlfriend's pedalling), while wearing Ralph Lauren and sunglasses. At night. Because he was a fucking douche.
A story quickly took form in my head: these two brats had gotten drunk, found a bike and decided to have fun. I rolled down the window:
"Hey, is that bike yours?"
"Yeah!" Sundouche replied, as they whizzed by.
I threw the cab in reverse, followed them.
"You guys paper people?"
At this point I had to stop, or I'd hit a tree. So I stopped and mulled this over. I could dash after them, which would lead to righteous conflict, but I'd probably lose my fare. Or I could do my job and hope Karma would take care of Daisy and Douche for me.
Well, suddenly the choice was made for me. Running, wearing a uniform, was a young african fellow. As he passed me by, I shouted out: "Hey!"
He stopped, and was about to run again.
"Look mister," he said. "I can't stop. My-"
"Is that your bike those people took?"
"Then get in the fucking car!"
He hopped in, and I made a sharp U-turn. We caught up with Douche and Daisy at Odin Plaza. I pulled up and the paper man dashed out of the car. He caught up with them and stopped them, physically. I left the cab, not really thinking. I followed Paper Man who was trying to wrest the bike from Douche. When Daisy saw me, she made like a tree. Douche remained.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
"Whaddaya mean, bro?"
"This man is trying to do his job. Its shitty, backbreaking work and he doesn't need some worthless twerp making his job harder by taking his bike."
"How was I supposed to know it was his bike?"
"Are you really this stupid?"
Charming fellow, no?
"I don't know what the big deal is," he continued. "Lots of bikes get stolen all the time..."
"Lot's of people are assaulted all the time," I snarled. "But does that give me the right to smash your teeth in?"
"Sure," he said with a grin. It wasn't even a challenge, he was just being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. I was reminded of the golden rule of arguing with drunks: "Whoever wins, you lose".
He turned to Paper Man: "Look, we didn't mean to steal your bike-"
I exploded: "GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! Not one more word from you, you disrespectful piece of shit. Do you think he's so stupid, that he will accept your half-assed, and retarded excuses? If you have any fucking decency at all, you leave right now."
And he did. He looked back once, and I spat in his direction. The fact that he didn't give me the finger either shows that he had some kind of remorse, or that I had managed to scare him somewhat. I dunno.
Paper Man was very happy. We shook hands, wished each other well and went our separate ways.
Looking at it, I can say this: this wasn't about me wanting to be a hero, or wanting to stand up for the little man. There are elements of both, but really, at bottom, it is because I can't stand bullies. I cannot stand those who would find joy at the expense of others. Those who need to spit on others in order to assert their own worth. And I am well aware of the irony that I find these people to be without worth or value, except perhaps as fertilizer.
So I could count all kinds of noble reasons for doing what I did, and none of them would be wrong. I do believe in doing the right thing. I do believe in acting when possible. But there's also another motivation, which is just as strong and that is this: the satisfaction of taking another douchebag down a few pegs.
Not exactly noble, but it gets the job done.