Sunday, 21 June 2015

“And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays.”

"I don't know what the deal is with Midsummer. I mean, what are we celebrating?"
"We're celebrating that we fucking survived winter and that there's food coming out of the goddamn ground. This whole thing about winter being a mild inconvenience at worst is a very new thing; one that I don't think will catch on."

Another midsummer. Another 12 hours behind the wheel. A disapointment in monetary terms. Quite pleasant on others. And of course, not without incidents.

It started out as any midsummer behind the wheel; the fares came in with a lovely regularity. all of them happy, some of them drunk, most of them going far, as it is custom during Midsummer to get the hell out of town. It was my plan to make a double my usual wage. Of course, fate had other plans in store.

Later on in the evening, sometime around midnight, I picked up this fellow. Big guy, shaven head, with scars and jailhouse tattoos. He was drunk as all hell.

"Pleasant midsummer?"
"Fuck no... Its shit. You know what I hate..? I hate people who try to be smarter than me."

At this point, I had a distinct feeling that there were a lot of people in the world that he hated. Still, I had no desire to antagonize him (indeed, he looked aggressive enough that this was a matter of self-preservation). So we talked a bit.

The conversation was rambling, with him making a lot of references to things he thought he had explained to me. It was pretty incoherent. But I picked up on a central theme and that is what people are shit. So of course I agreed. And so, I won a small amount of liking from him.

"You know who I am, right?"
"Afraid not."
"Seriously, you don't know me? <name> ?"
"Not at all."
"You haven't been following the shootings...? Ah, never mind. Gang stuff."

I went cold. For the past two years, we've seen a gang war going on in the northern part of town. There have been shootings, and at least one bomb, resulting in several deaths. And if this guy was for real, he was implying that he was a fairly high profile player in this game.

"Right," said I. "Well... I find that the less I know about that stuff, the less trouble I'm in."

He barked a surprised laugh. "Good answer!"

The conversation flowed a bit easier then. He didn't tell me anything really, but an image emerged. Here was a man who lived a brutal life, doing brutal things, and who loathed everyone, and himself. And here I was in the uncomfortable position of offering comfort while trying not to potentially offend the guy and get shanked.

"Fuck, I just want to blow my brains out."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"But I'm not going to do that. I'm going to drink until I can't stand up any more."
"I suppose that's a kind of solution."
"It isn't. But it fucking works."

He paid me, and wandered off into oblivion, after saying in a begrudging tone: "You're a good cabbie."

Later on, I drove way outside of town, into the goddamn woods to pick up a guy so drunk he instantly fell asleep when he sat in the car. When we got back to town, he couldn't pay. 80 minutes and 600 kroner wasted. Fuck that guy. Fuck him to death.

And finally, there were some angry young men who flipped right the fuck out because I refused to let them be five passengers in a car made for four. But that's another story, because it ties into a larger topic about safety, which I'll get to down the line.

I ended up making 1,3 of my usual wage. Still, all in all, it was a rather lovely shift. Monetary and alcoholic issues aside, Midsummer is a great holiday. It really brings out the best in people. I hope yours was pleasant too, whether or not you celebrate it.

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