Sometimes it’s not all bad.
I’ve been working my butt off the last couple weeks to save up for bills and taking a week off to visit friends out-of-state, picking up driving and phone answering shifts as they became available. It’s been a long Winter already and this made it feel like it would never end. February lasts FOREVER. Everyone on the road is cranky, everyone walking down the street is cranky, everyone who doesn’t have alcohol in their hand is cranky.
People are even starting to act dangerously because of it. More people sneak through on “yellow” lights, drive faster than they should on icy roads, or run across streets with their heads down (out of the sub-zero winds) without looking because they need to get inside faster.
The past month has been a complete grind. I felt like a work-horse. I haven’t been really engaging in conversation in my cab, just saying “yea,” and nodding my head a lot. Things haven’t been sunshine and happiness, but they haven’t really been terrible, either… just a lot of work.
I ended up surprising myself on Sunday night. I got dispatched a call to pick up out of town (Verona) and stay out of town. This means there’s a $12 added flat charge on top of what the meter runs, but it also means I’m way outside of any continuing action, so after the call I would have to dead-head back into downtown. This made me a little annoyed, considering the pick-up was at a bar and people usually get grumpy when you tell them about the $12 flat rate while they pretend the office staff didn’t tell them when they ordered.
Surprisingly, the customer was waiting outside when I pulled up. He got into the back seat, asked about my evening, smiled a lot, said he knew about the $12 charge and was alright with it, didn’t call me “honey” or “sweetie”, mentioned that all his friends at the bar didn’t have to work the next day but he was going home early because he did while managing to NOT belittle them for 1) drinking late and 2) having alternatively scheduled jobs. He seemed joyous, and a little drunk. I think the joy radiating off him was what got me.
The meter turned out to be $7.70, so the total was $19.70. He handed me two bills (one of which was a $5 that I could see), while maintaining eye contact and thanking me so very much for the safe and warm ride home. As I watched him go through the door for his apartment building, I looked at the money he gave me and saw it was $15. I had definitely told him $19.70, he had definitely agreed that was the total, so I figured he was drunk enough and it was dark enough that he had meant to give me a $20 instead of the $10 bill.
I asked dispatch to call him out (we still had the phone number on the call) and explain what had happened. He came back a few minutes later apologizing up and down, saying he had meant to give me $30. He seemed anxious about me thinking he had intentionally shorted me, incredibly sincere, and he hung back a little, visually waffling about something. As he walked back towards his apartment door I piped up and asked if I could give him my phone number. Before I even got the whole sentence out he replied, “yes!” When I handed it to me, he looked me in the eye and said he would call me the following day. It felt good that he hadn’t asked about any of my personal life, hadn’t asked for my number, and made every effort to not be a creeper. It felt good that he replied with joy at me asking.
I’ve never in my 10 years of driving given my phone number to anyone with the intention of a date. As of Thursday he hasn’t called, but honestly I don’t mind. The whole interaction had me blushing for a couple hours and in a cheerful mood since. He wasn’t creepy, gave me hope that not all guys are downers, cheered me up after a LOOOOOONG ass Winter, and now I’m on vacation. I just need the snow in Madison to be all melted by the time I get back next week.