A Saturday in the life of a cab driver of Madison, WI:
I picked up an ANCIENT lady from the ER of one of Madison’s fine hospitals. She has her ride paid for by the hospital, but she insists before she gets out of her wheelchair on giving me 5 individually crinkled up $1 bills. I stuff them in my pocket and get her in the cab… and her chair in the trunk. On our way to her house, she starts saying something about a salon.
“There’s a salon on the way to my house,” she says in a stereotypical old lady voice, “It has something about… sex in the name… what could that MEAN?! Why would anyone want to go there, I just don’t know…” I soothe her and let her know that we’ll figure it out when we pass by.
I see it, and read aloud “Unisex Hair” at the same time that she says “Un-sex Hair”. I chuckle a little and let her know what it means… she still doesn’t get it and thinks it’s something dirty. She thanks me profusely when I wheel her up into her apt complex to her front door. She also warns me about sexual harassment in this neighborhood and I should be careful getting back to my car… that is parked in broad daylight 20 feet from her apt building.
There’s a party of 12 coming out of a hotel, they have ordered 3 cabs from us, and they’re going to Visions, the local strip club. Obviously a bachelor party. On the way the guy sitting directly behind me is asking me what I do other than drive cab. Do I go to school? The typical questions that EVERYONE asks me. So when he asks the obvious “What do you do in your spare time?” I answer “Play video games.” This guy goes nuts and says his friend sitting next to him is all about video games. So finally I’m not being hit on anymore, we’re talking about MMORPGs. The guy who plays video games asks what I play and suggests some new games coming out, etc… all the way to the club. The fare is $13.50 as we pull up and I point out that a couple of the strippers are just sorta hanging out (literally) in front of the club having a smoke. The boys don’t even notice, and offer me a $20 with a “keep it” added to their thank you.
Then they go get their friends from the other Union that took them, bring them to my car and start exclaiming “SHE PLAYS FINAL FANTASY ELEVEN!” They gape at me and smile and don’t pay any attention to the strippers until I pull away. “No wonder gamers rarely touch boobs… they just aren’t interested.” My boyfriend says when I tell him about it on the phone 2 minutes after it happens.
3 gay men and a woman jump in my cab as I’m trying to navigate a confusing apt complex… They’re the ones I’m looking for, but as we start to pull away, the girl exclaims “OH SHIT I FORGOT MY PURSE OH MY GOD” with a big frowny face. I don’t get why she’s so upset, but as we’re waiting for her to run inside and fetch it, two of the guys in the back are ducking low in the seat. “Um… are you ok?” I ask.
“Oh.. ya we’re fine we’re just hiding.” I get it out of them that its their friend’s birthday party, and they’ve just ditched her. That’s why the girl didn’t want to go in and get her purse… she thought that she had made a clean get-away. But she was caught, as she left the second time… and several phone calls were made to the cellphones in the cab during the ride as we race to the bar, where the four passengers made a not-clean get-away. The whole way the guy in the front seat is playing it off and saying he’ll take the blame, the two gay men in the back are feeling TERRIBLE, and the girl is dramatically panicked. They were all a bunch of drama queens in my opinion, but made for some entertainment for me!
Tony Toni Tone.
Bachelorette party. Age 45. These are the BEST. The ladies were hammered, middle aged, and went CRAZY when “I wanna sex you up” came on the radio. Never mind that it’s a Color Me Bad song, we were all convinced it was a Tony Toni Tone song. Then one of the ladies insisted they go inside and dance to Madonna.
Fisted. This one is the gem of the night.
3 boys and 1 girl. They were all younger than me and very immature. We’re making two stops before I’m supposed to go out-of-town. I picked them up from a bar, the guy sitting in the middle-back has either hand on each of the front seats, and I HATE when people are moving my chair around while I’m driving so I tell him to knock it off. The guy in the front seat starts making fun of me for being defensive, then he starts leaning on my bag that I have sitting between the front two seats. I ask him to knock it off, and he gets that cocky attitude again.
I brush it off and keep driving, he’s not leaning anymore so its fine, right? Then the guy on the left starts wrestling with the girl on the right (in the back seat), with a guy between them. “Hey guys no wrestling in the cab,” I say in a sorta-fun voice. “I’m just making out with ‘insert-name-here’!” he says. The guy in the front seat thinks he’s funny and says “And soon I’ll be makin out with you!” to me.
“Then you’ll soon have a fist in your mouth!” I say back in the same cocky voice he’s been using the whole ride.
The guy in the back seat pipes up “Soon you’ll have a fist in your ass!” LOL BOZO! I slam on my brakes and pull over. “Would you like to walk home?” I say in my Mom Voice. Nervous laughs and “I’m sorry”s. I get going again, but then the wise ass in the front seat starts going off on how I’m so defensive.
Something is said about how I shouldn’t drive this shift because I’m not cut out for it, that I should go to school and get an education and a real job, etc… We’re about 4-5 blocks from our very first stop. I slam on the brakes again, ask for the fare on the meter, and tell them to get the fuck out of my cab. I receive my money as they’re exclaiming what a terrible person I am and how uneducated I am, and how much better they are.
As I was driving off, I smiled. There were about 10,000 things I could have said to make myself look smarter, or them stupid, or make myself feel better about the whole thing, but in the end… I got their money, they got to walk, and 3 of them didn’t make it to their own house. I didn’t get the short end of any of that deal. I also let my dispatcher know not to take an order from that location for the rest of the evening.
There’s some hotshot basketball coach at the UW college. His son got married last night and had a huge party at the Oakcrest Tavern afterward. I pull up and this couple is trying to get in my cab, but I tell them over and over I’m there for Tim. They don’t even acknowledge I’m talking to them until they start to wonder why the door isn’t opening after trying the handle 10 times. Turns out Tim needs to go to the ER. A woman comes over to me after about 5 minutes, and says “Oh, Tim’s just a little dizzy, please wait for him he needs to go to the hospital, please?” She’s pleading with me. I can see that Tim cannot sit up, he looks unconscious, and I refuse to take him. I tell the two who’ve been trying to get in my cab to get in.
“OH NOW she lets us in!” The man says. Not a good start, but I’m a little distracted by a fist fight that’s poured out of the bar and into the middle of the street. I hear glass breaking, and just laugh as these two grown men in tuxedos act like 12-year-olds.
We get going, and I’m asking about the drama from the wedding reception. Apparently the guy who started the fight was the best man. I start to think that it might be over a girl, but I’m wrong! Its something even more ridiculous. Apparently someone accidentally knocked a guy’s beer as he was trying to drink from the bottle, then the bottle knocks the holder in the eye and he gets a cut. So the best man steps up and fights someone. Idiots shouldn’t drink.
So the whole me not letting these people in my cab is completely forgotten, and an argument starts up in the back seat about the man really REALLY wanting taco bell and we should all drive through before going home. Girl says no. Boy says yes. I say “PLEASE I NEED AGREEMENT!”. We drive through taco bell, and the guy starts messing with the poor dude trying to take his order. “What’s your favorite meal?” “Number 7” “um… is it good?”
“I’ll get a number tttwww… SIX! and 3 steak tacos! and a large Mist soda!” This is after I’m like “DUDE THERE IS A LINE BEHIND US.” We get to the window, the total is $13-something and my passenger asks for two more steak tacos, totally ignoring the fact his gf kept asking for a plain meat-and-cheese taco the ENTIRE time.
I get them home, they give me a steak taco and a $6 tip. I shake my head and enjoy my dinner.
Ya this is really about pee. I’m back at the bar where I picked up the bachelorettes from earlier. There’s a guy taking a LONG ASS piss on the side of the building. He can’t stop as he sees me pulling up, and he kinda turns himself, embarrassed. I’m thinking to myself “omgomgomg please don’t be my passenger uuugghhhh”
He walks over to my cab and my heart sinks. He tries to open the door but they’re locked, I roll down my window. “I’m sorry you had to see me pee, but I really had to go and they wouldn’t let me into the bar to do it… I’m not your passenger, I just wanted to apologize.” Well that was nice and unexpected.
My real passenger was a bad tipper and kinda sucked.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one getting weirdos. My last ride was the bartender from the Shamrock, a gay bar downtown. He was going home, but he wanted to tell me about how this guy in his bar was having a heart attack or something because he had danced too much that night with a heart condition. He had to take the guy out back and call an ambulance and stay on the phone with 9-11 until it got there.
Ya not an exciting ending for me, but I made the passenger feel like a hero.
The other drivers had a bunch of crazy things happen too. Ross had a lady giving head to her boyfriend in his back seat as their best friend was in his front seat trying to ignore it and have civil conversation. Aaron had something weird happen to him, too, but I forget it now. I remember at the end of the night there was so much LAUGHTER when the drivers were all checked in and telling their stories. Its been quiet lately. Last night was just 2 months worth of “cab stories” rolled into one night.