I’ve been meaning to write this blog entry for over a month. I had short titles for each story written as a saved draft with the tab open for a whole month. Finally, I have some free time and motivation for writing. This entry is going to be a series of short blurbs.
During the course of a weekend, I tend to take notes on what I think is mentionable. Here’s an example:
Lets get to it.
One of the crazy advantages of being a taxi driver is yes, I do meet a lot of interesting people (I get asked this a LOT). Sometimes it’s serendipity. Several months ago I had a terrible cold. One night I spent the WHOLE NIGHT coughing and eventually I woke from my half-sleep with an awful ear ache and clogged ear. Fast forward to a ride with 5 newly-graduated ear doctors. I explain my symptoms: two months of clogged and ringing ear with sensitivity to loud noises. They said I should stop waiting for it to clear up on its own because sometimes fluid can solidify within the ear and lead to long term hearing loss. I made an appointment the following day with my GP to check it out. This would not have happened in most other jobs.
Twenty or so beefy men and a few strong women were being led by a man with an American flag through a neighborhood on the near-east side at approximately 2am. I came to a stop at my red light that put me with a good view of them. When most of them were in the cross walk directly in front of me, the lead guy yelled something and one half of the crowd jumped onto the other half, piggy-back style, to continue their parade. I’m assuming it was some weird middle-of-the-night survival training at a nearby park, but it was weird as shit. This sort of thing, in the middle of the night, makes me question reality a little bit. Am I asleep and dreaming? Who comes up with this stuff?!
The next weekend at about 12:30am was the biker wearing a tutu from the photo of titles above. She was riding towards the capitol, so maybe it was for a party downtown? People are super-weird and I’m in a good position to see a lot of it (as opposed to having a daytime desk job).
Yea, gross. Graduation weekend is partytimes! I had a very long ride from downtown to a hotel in a neighboring city (probably because all the hotels in town were booked up and over-priced) with 6 passengers. I’ve been driving minivans lately because Siennas seem to be nicer than Prius to me and my aging back. Anyway, the talk is boisterous until about 3 blocks from our destination. One of the ladies in the “way back” was passed out and another dude was looking green. Everyone gets out except for the passed-out girl, and it takes two very drunk men to pull and prod her awake and out. Everyone goes inside except for the green looking dude and the half-zombie girl. Green dude b-lines for the bushes next to the entrance of the hotel and loses his very full stomach. It was very messy, but he stayed upright. The front of his shirt was a mess and when he was done being sick the zombie girl wanted to sooth and comfort him, so she gave him a hug. I just don’t know what to say. Is that love? It was endearing and gross and I’m just so conflicted about the whole thing. I was thankful it happened outside my taxi while I was 20 feet away. Considering the ride was more than 25 minutes long, I felt extremely lucky with the near-miss.
A short, sassy ride. Two guys get in, it’s about bartime. One guy’s phone starts ringing halfway through the ride and right as the guy gets it out to answer, his friend says to me, “It’s his mom.” No hesitation or even time for the first guy to comprehend what his friend had said, he answers the phone with, “Hello, Lover,” in a sexy voice. We both lost our shit and I was smiling for hours after this ride.
Yup. It was raining pretty hard and I saw one of our downtown foxes running through a neighborhood with what looked like a dead bunny (dinner) in it’s mouth. It managed to look miserable, graceful, and endearing all at once.
A Trifecta of Body Fluids:
One of the hospitals was desperate to send a homeless man on his way. The hospital paid for his ride to a shelter and authorized the $50 cleaning fee, should it come to that. This is all information I got before getting to the pick-up, so I was pretty nervous about what I might find. Two cops met me at the ER entrance (it was about 3am and the only entrance that was open) with a man in a wheel chair.
A lady cop had opened my front door and leaned in to hand me the authorization voucher and say softly, “There’s a bit of a mess in his pants so we’ve got some plastic padding for your seat.” She said it like she was trying to be polite and not embarrass him, which I totally get. If we’re all aware of the situation, we can all not talk about it together, just so long as it doesn’t put me out.
“I WANT TO SIT IN THE FRONT SEAT!”
“No, you’re sitting…”
He cuts me off, “EVERYONE ELSE LETS ME SIT IN THE FRONT SEAT!”
The cop steps back and looks a little uncomfortable. “No,” I say, looking him straight in the eye and using a matter-of-fact tone. “If you have a mess in your pants you sit in the back.”
“Ok.” He says, immediately conceding the point.
“Well that was easy,” says the lady cop, surprised. She lays down the plastic barriers and helps the man in. He’s got dried poop and pee in his pants and globby vomit on the front of his shirt. He smelled like a corpse. That lady cop had more patience and grace than I think I have ever had at any point in my entire life.
Once we were rolling, his man immediately complained about the cold and asked if I would roll up my windows. I refused, the smell was distracting and probably toxic. I just told him no, this was a short ride and it would be over soon. He said that I was supposed to take him back to the hospital if the shelter wouldn’t let him in, and I told him no, the hospital wasn’t paying for that. He called me a Nazi, said I was part of the problem, called me a few names under his breath. I was just trying to breath the air coming into my window.
When we got to the shelter he couldn’t figure out how to get the door open. He refused to take instruction, so I got out and opened it for him. “You need to help me out.”
“No, I am not touching you.” Yes, it was harsh, but I had lost patience with the smell, fluids, name-calling, and conscious refusal to figure out the door handle.
Surprisingly, he got out without a problem and left me to dispose of the barriers. It took over ten minutes of riding around the city with all the windows down to disperse the smell. I didn’t charge the $50 cleaning fee because there wasn’t a mess to clean up, thanks to the angelic lady cop. If she hadn’t been there to help out, the ride would have been a disaster.
The stories above were all from over a month ago, but this happened a few days ago. I get asked about my stories a lot (just as most cab drivers do), so when I’m not feeling very talkative I tell people they should read my blog. This ride was a pick up at a minor league baseball game (the Mallards!), a party of 5 gentlemen all wearing the same shirt. This was part of a bachelor party, I learned during the ride that the bachelor had gone home early to be with his fiance. No one seemed upset about it, which raised this party up a notch in my eyes. A guy is getting married, he had some fun with his friends, and after the fun he wanted to be with his partner. They all understood the loving of the situation and didn’t begrudge it.
So I tell them I’ve got a blog after they ask for some stories and one of them brings it up on his smartphone to read out loud. Another guy gets impatient with his deadpan delivery of my entry, snatches the phone, and starts reading in a British accent. That gets a few laughs from everyone involved, but then he switches to Irish. I’m pretty impressed because I don’t think many people can go from one accent to the other so abruptly. Some words come out insane-sounding, everyone had a good laugh, then a few of them tell me I HAVE to write about them.
So I’m writing in my taxi blog about passengers reading my taxi blog in my taxi. Am I in a Charlie Kaufman movie?