Thursday, 6 July 2017

Swift justice.

"Sadly, the troubles of the world won't be resolved in this cab."

I was going to write some convoluted shit about how time flies the older you get, hence the lack of updates.

I won't. Suffice it to say; last year, I worked my ass off behind the wheel and didn't write a line about it. This year, I'm doing the same. But I'll do better. Besides, I've got enough material to cover three summers if I should choose. And to start things off, here's a story from my very first shift this year.

I knew he was trouble the moment I saw the rappers chain printed on his t-shirt.

It was my first shift in a year. Things had been going smoothly. I had had two fares, nothing special. People going from A to B and paying me for it. Couldn't ask for anything more. I figured it would be a smooth, if uninteresting shift. Good lord, was I in for a surprise.

Dispatch called out a fare from Charles-Andrew Place, going out to Hoof Ridge. Charles-Andrew is right smack in the middle of things, the kind of area where you'll find old apartments filled with old people who have old money. Fares from this area usually aren't anything special - mostly its trips to the local supermarket or liquer store and back. But this one, ladies and gentlemen... oh boy, this one went to Hoof Ridge, which is a very affluent area outside of town, not too far from Isthmus. It was  damn fine fare. And since it was a big holiday (one where we, the most secular country in the world, commemorate the ascension of Christ into heaven. Personally, I think we celebrate it because we're happy to be rid of him), that meant that the tariff was at its highest. This trip would cost 500 sek easily, which is delicious for a greedy cabby such as myself.

"GTFO, Lord!"

I told dispatch I'd be at Charles-Andrew in five minutes - standard time. We try not to spend more than five or ten minutes driving to a fare, unless we know that it will be worth our while driving back. Dispatch confirmed, and the timer showed I had five minutes. All was kosher. I arrived at Charles-Andrew, ready to make some money. 

Of course, things are rarely quite so easy as one would like.

All right, so... I arrived a few minutes early, so I kicked back, listening to a podcast and waited patiently. The door opened and out came a woman.

She was in her mid thirties. Tanned, with Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses and dressed all in white. Your typical affluent lady of Summer. She knocked on the window.

"Hi!" she said, sounding a bit stressed. "You're so early!"
"Only three minutes or so."
"But they said you'd be here in fifteen minutes!"
"Ah, well then there's been a mistake. You either heard wrong, or they said wrong. Cause I told them five minutes, and as you can see" - I pointed at the screen - "five minutes is what they gave me."

"All right," she said. "But you'll wait?"

"Sure," I said. "But once the waiting period is over [ie: five minutes after deadline] I'm turning on the meter."

"No problem!" she said and hurried back inside. I kicked back again, smiling at the slight, harmless mistake that had been made.

Then her husband appeared. He tore open the door, roaring:
"They said fifteen minutes! They said fifteen minutes, and you're here in five! This is the fourth time that fucking Taxi M has done this! This is totally unacceptable."

He was big. He had that bloated, spherical look of  the kind of dude that would've been the very image of wealth and health in the 18th century. who achieved obesity by eating way too much foies gras and drinking way too much champagne, rather than pizza and soda like the rest of us sinners. 


Far be it from me to bodyshame the guy. Lord knows I'm not one to judge (obesity is not just a work hazard for a cabby - its a part of the experience). He was dressed in white shorts and a t-shirt that was just a size or two too small. And printed around the neckline was, I shit you not, a thick chain with a dollar sign pendant. Printed. If God cared about fashion (and, according to certain denominations, he does), then this man was bound straight for hell.

Still, I wouldn't have noticed any of this, if my first impression of him hadn't been him barging into my place at work, throwing a hissy fit.

"This is totally unacceptable!"

I was in no mood for conflict, so I picked up a business card and handed it to him. "I'm sorry you feel that way, sir. I suggest you call headquarters during business hours and tell them about it."

"Oh no!" he said, patting me on the shoulder. "Don't worry, I'm not laying it on you. It's not your fault, its the idiots in dispatch. I know the number. I know the people." 

I nodded. They got into the car and off we went. In a downward spiral, I might add.

Behind me, I could hear him snarling to his wife. "Do you have Pauls number?"
"HOW THE FUCK DON'T YOU HAVE HIS NUMBER! WHy the hell haven't you added it? God damn, I fucking hate this! You never do as I say, you never have your shit together!"

I almost threw him out then and there. But I kept my cool, mostly because it had been a long time since last I was behind the wheel and my wallet was howling for his sweet sweet money. Of course, even greed has its limits. 

Because it wasn't long before he started threatning her. Whenever she tried to spoke, he jabbed his finger right up in her face, hissing "Watch that. Do fucking watch that. You don't want to piss me off right now."

Longtime readers know EXACTLY how I feel about that. I realized that it no longer was a matter of if I was going to throw him out, but rather a matter of when

By now we were out on the highway, and I had to make a decision. There wasn't a convenient sidewalk for me to pull up to, so my best bet would be to take the exit into Mill Valley, and drop him there. Luckily, his wife made the decision for me. Kinda.

"I'm not going to take this," she said. "Cabby, can you take me to my sister? She lives in Yards."

Yards was only a couple of kilometers from the starting point of the fare. It would be a small thing to turn the car around, drop off the douchey husband near (but not too near) Charles-Andrew and then take her to her sister.

"Of course, m'am." 

I drove into Mill Valley, and made my turn and headed back on the highway in the opposite direction. 

Mr Chainz was none too pleased with that.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

"I'm turning the cab around, sir."


"Because your wife ordered the cab and so she decides on the destination. Also, because you're a fucking asshole."


"You've been acting like a fucking pig the moment you stepped into my car. You have no respect for me, for the company I work for, and most importantly, your wife. I'm not having it, so I'm taking you back to Cross Road, and then I'm taking your wife to Yards."

"How the hell is it any of your business what I say to my wife???"

"None, sir. Which I why I don't want you dragging your personal shit into my place of work."

"You're insane!" It's funny how when the people are crossed, they never call you stupid, or an asshole, or mean. They call you insane, as if the very idea of denying them something is crazy. "Your place of work, bullshit."

"That's the way of it, sir."

He leaned in behind me and very condescendling patted/slapped my cheek. Not violently, mind. More like how you affectionately slap the flanks of a dog or a horse.

"You better work hard tonight, little buddy," he said, grinning. "Because tomorrow, you'll be out of a job. I know the guy who owns your fucking company."

Two options: murder or laughter. As usual, I chose laughter. Because I was genuinely amused. 

He wasn't. "The fuck are you laughing at."
"You! I'm laughing at you! Have you any idea of how many times I've heard that threat? 'I'm gonna get you fired'. I'm sorry for not wetting my pants. If I do get fired, I'll send you a nice card where it says 'you win', but until then, I'm going to fucking laugh."

At this point, he had his phone out and was probably about to call headquarters. I myself began grabbing for my phone, because I figured that I might need the cops to help me out on this. And while God does have a habit of putting a cabby in shitty situations, sometimes the Lord will smile upon us too. 

A police cruiser drove up next to me, angrily signallying for me to slow down. I was doing 90 kph on a 70 road. While I have done, and do, my fair share of speeding, this time it was purely motivated from anger. So I slowed down, but I also signalled to them with my hands: Drive infront of me and stop. I want to pull over behind you.

Artists impression

The cops took the message. Within seconds, I had pulled over behind them, not too far away from a bus stop. I stepped out of the car and said: "The man sitting behind me has been very rude, threatning and also slapped me in the face. I'd like you to remove him from my vehicle, if that's all right with you. Go easy on his wife - she's been decent all the way.

The cops nodded and acted. While cabbies and cops enjoy a rather tenuous relationship at best, they do recognize us as professionals with all the rights and protections that entails. So they asked mr Chainz to leave the car. I closed the window and leaned back in my seat. In the corner of my eye, I could se him flailing and snarling, probably explaining to them what a meanie I was.

"I'm sorry about this," I said to his wife. "This is embarrassing for both of us."
"I'm sorry too," she said. "I understand why you did as you did."
"No need to apologise. Do you still want to go to you sister?"
"No! I need to get to the party in Hoof Ridge."
"All right... I'll take you there."
"Not without him!"

Ho Jesus...

"I'm sorry, m'am. I'm not going to drive him."
"I know, I know. It was totally unacceptable. But he's had a really stressful day - his daughter is sick-"
"I appreciate that, but I have a few lines. He managed to cross them all. So I can take you to your sister, or take you back home. I'll even do it free of charge. But I'm not driving him under any circumstances."
"I can sit up front, and he can sit in the back! I promise he'll behave!"
"I'm sorry, no. I think the best you can do is call Taxi G, because I'm going to tell headquarters not to accept fares from him. I'm really sorry about this, but his business is not welcome."

"All right... But I'll pay you for the trouble."

"No need," I said. "I'd rather just leave this behidn me."
"No, no, of course you should be paid up until now," she began rumaging through her bag. Then she said. "Oh shit, he has the card."

Not his card. or her card. But the card. It chilled me.

"Its fine, ma'm. Despite all this, I hope you'll have a nice evening."

"Thank you. And I'm so sorry."

She left the cab and I left them by the road. 

My assessment of this is simple: an abuse relationship. A man who does not like to be contradicted, who has no trouble insulting, humiliating and threatning his wife. Who controls the money in the household. Who is so high and mighty that he can do this in front of strangers. It is my sincere hope he keeps up his lifestyle. Given enough time and buttered lobster, maybe his heart will realize what a complete douchebag its keeping alive and decide to quit. If there was a way to actually have the police arrest him for being an abusise shitbag, I would have taken it without a second's hesitation.


It felt good writing this. And there's a lot more to come. So far, the summer has been blessedly free from these kinds of swine, and there's been a fair few decent people too. I look forward to telling you all about it. 

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