"Well, as long as you don't try to kidnap me and force me to drive halfway across the country, I think we're good."
As you can tell, I survived my last adventure. Now it's summer again, and I'm back on the road, night after night. That wasn't my plan, however.
I thought that when I had to bite the bullet and start cabbing while studying, I'd generate more material for the blog. But I made a mistake, and that mistake was that I started driving the day shift. In fact, I figured that since I've started working regularly, I wouldn't have to go hard and spend every summer night working my ass off. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Because here's the thing: I tried driving during the day for the first two weeks of June, but I kept having to deal with the nasty little fact that during the day, being a cabby is no fun at all. You have to get up at an ungodly hour to make any kind of profit, the fares are fare between, traffic is miserable and on top of it all, nothing fun ever happens during the day. Or at least, nothing weird.
There's only so many variations of "I picked up this dude, we drove for a while, small talk about weather and city infrastructure" that you can write before you realize that your blog has become a log and of no joy to anyone except perhaps statisticians.
So two weeks in to my attempt in working in such a way as was beneficial to my health, I realized I was on the verge of driving off a cliff in sheer boredom. With that, I called my boss and asked to take the night shift again.
So, my days are spent in a zombiefied stupor, my body and brain are slowly deteriorating, entropy and chaos are slowly taking over my apartment, and I am enjoying the hell out of working. I hate how much I enjoy this job, and have to remind myself that the reason why I enjoy it is because I'm not stuck in it.
So I'm back, and I have stories to tell. Most of the stuff I've experienced in the past few weeks have been dark: assault, robbery, toxic relationships, broken people living broken lives. Their stories will come. I've also driven a Viking skipper, a nationalist who was uncomfortably aware of his chosen party's Nazi origins, and Tonight, I want to tell you something ridiculus.
A midnight snack
She was in her early forties. One of those people who were hot while young, beautiful in middle age, and would probably be handsome when elderly. Sharply dressed in a jacket and black skirt, with sensible and imperious shoes. She had a dog with her which she had failed to report in when calling the cab (as we know, its good form to inform dispatch about all and any pets you might be bringing along) .
"Is it ok if she rides along? She's tiny, only six months old."
The pup was most certainly not tiny, and would probably be the size of a horse within a year.
"Let her ride on the floor, and it's all good."
So my passenger slipped into the seat next to me, and her huge puppy took a seat on the floor behind us. And credit where it's due: the dog stayed there through the entire trip.
We were going from Linnaeus to Hookfield - a slightly above average fare. So I took the car south, figuring I'd take the road across Gold Heath (which is not a heath, but a gigantic goddamn hill) to avoid the traffic lights. As we were nearing the ramp leading up to Gold Heath my passenger decided she needed provisions.
"Is there anyway we can stop and get something to eat? I'm starving."
I realized she was a bit drunk, though she hid it well. However, even light intoxication can lead to strange cravings in the middle of the night.
"Sure, there's a 7-11 on Ashmount street."
"You think its open?"
"Won't it be really expensive?"
"Nope. This is Taxi M."
Satisfied, she agreed and we turned the car around. A few minutes later (spent talking slightly disjointedly about her adorable 'little' puppy), we found that the 7-11 was indeed closed. I suggested that if she was open,there was a street grill that was open all night nearby. As long as she didn't eat in the car, she could go get whatever she wanted.
"Sounds good," she said. "Can I get you anything?"
"No, I'm fine."
"You sure? Not a coke? A burger? You're probably hungry. I can get you something."
"No thank you," I said, wondering idly if her comment about my hunger was a reference to my barely tolerable overweight.
"Oh come on, you can't say no. I'm offering you here. Don't you want free food?"
"No, thank you, its fine."
"Come on, don't you want something ? French fries? Falafel? Anything you like, I'll buy it. I'm trying to be nice here."
"Look, I appreciate it, I do. But I'm good. Thank you."
She kept it up. You'd be surprised at the amount of nagging that can be done in the span of three minutes. Each time I declined, each time a little bit more forceful."
We arrived at the grill.
"You'll turn off the meter, right?" she asked.
"I won't, no."
"What?? But I'm offering you free food here!" she was aghast. A mortal insult to her dignity.
"And I appreciate that, but my landlord prefers money to burgers."
"Fine, fine," she said. "But I'm leaving the dog with you. Mind you, she can get a little weird when she's alone."
And then she was out, and inside the grill. And there I was, once again, alone with a dog belonging to a potentially crazy person. The life of a cabby is truly a cyclical phenomenon.
The dog didn't get weird. In fact, it was quite well behaved. It got a little whiny, but it accepted my hand and calming words. For a six month old puppy, it was quite chill.
Seen here, chilling with a bear.
After a while, my passenger returned. She had a years ration of junk food with her. She got into the car, and placed her food on the floor between her feet. But there was another bag with her. "And this," she said, "is for you!"
She gave me a can of coke, and started digging out a box of fries. I was stunned.
"This really isn't necessary-" I began.
"What? But I bought you this food! Look, I'll just place it here-"
"Yes, I get that, but I said no, remember?"
"Oh nobody has to know," she said. "I'll just put it here, between the seats-"
she said, as if bribing a local politician.
"Look, this is very kind of you, but I don't..."
"Oh come on, just a few fries?" she said, bringing a handful to my mouth. I gently pushed her hand away, unsure if I should laugh or scream.
"Please, ma'am," I said. "You asked if I wanted food and I said no. I wish you'd respect that."
"Oh come on!" she looked around, suddenly conscious of something. "Is there surveillance in your car? Can they hear what's going on in here?"
I considered pressing the alarm button, just to make her fears come true.
"Nobody has to know! Trust me, I'm a lawyer. It'll be fine, just between us!"
On and on and on, while the car made its way over Mount John, and down toward Hook Field. She really, really wanted me to accept the greasy treats she had gone through so much trouble to get. In my paranoid mind, I began to wonder if she was fattening me up for one of those cannibalistic orgies that potentially happen regularly in Hook Field.
"Now you listen to me," she said in a very motherly tone. "My grandmother lived through the rationing during World War 2. She knew the value of food and would NEVER let it go to waste like you are."
We were nearing the destination, and I was caught between making money and throwing her out just so I could have a moment of quiet. Principles took a back seat; I just needed her to shut up, so I could get paid with minimum fuss. So I said:
"Well, for your grandmother's sake, I'll meet you half way."
"Yes?" she said, her eyes glowing with imminent victory.
"I'll take the food, and once I've dropped you off, I'll take a break and enjoy it."
"I promise," I said, lying through my teeth (if my teeth had parted, she may have stuck a doggie bag between them). "Its time for a break anyway."
She wasn't convinced. She looked at me with narrow eyes. "Do you swear on my grandmother's grave?"
"I do," I said solemnly.
"You better," she said. "This is my grandmother we're talking about."
"I would never dream of disrespecting your grandmother," I solemnly intoned.
"Pinkie-swear," she said, offering her finger. I hooked it, with a sense of dread. Then I took the bag from her and placed it on the compartment between the seats. We had arrived.
She paid, and said "Make sure you eat all of it."
"I will, thank you."
Satisfied she left.
I drove a block, opened the window and threw the food to the night, wishing the rats and crows a pleasant meal. Free of my burden, I went back to work, where the rules of reality apply.
Of course, there are moments, just before sleep, when I get the sense of being watched, as if my doorway is darkened by a hunched figure, wagging a long, bony finger at me in maternal disapproval.
There are children starving in Africa,
you ungrateful boy...
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