I have a friend and we had a fight about six months ago. I don’t even know what the fight was about. We have known each other for probably ten years or longer. He was mad at me for something and then I was mad at him for coming at me badly about it. We avoided each other since then, not saying a word… Until I was dispatched his ride going to a bar Saturday night. I could have asked the dispatcher to give it to someone else, but I decided I was in a good enough place that I could give him a ride without biting his head off. You would think this sort of coincidence is rare, but I guess this town is smaller than seems.
He started off with small talk. His voice was quavering, I could tell something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell if he was drunk or only having a rough day. He pressed with the small talk and so I said I was still upset with how we had our fight a while back. He replied that he was upset with me about something, but it just didn’t seem important anymore. The tone of his voice was worrying, defeatist. I asked what was the matter and he couldn’t bring the words out. He was falling apart.
I pulled the car over a few blocks from his destination and told him I was coming around to his side of the car. He got out and I just hugged him while he broke open. I still didn’t know what had happened, but he was sobbing big, man sobs. I was probably imagining it, but my chest was starting to physically ache inside with how much his was hurting. We stood like this for several minutes before he lost some steam. I got him a napkin and let him catch his breath. A family member had passed away.
I remembered sobbing exactly the same way when I learned my mother had died, on the shoulder of someone near me, but not necessarily close to me. I’m glad I was his driver, glad I could in some way be there for him. I’m glad our friendship is strong enough that even if we are mad at each other, we can look past it for a while to make sure we’re okay.
It was hard to move from this heavy moment into dealing with happy Saturday night revelers. My mind kept traveling back to my friend and his pain. He said he was meeting someone at the bar, so I knew he was being looked after.
At the end of the night I had one of our regulars and his new roommate. The roommate was a bartender that had served me on several occasions. They were both drunk, but the bartender was probably especially drunk. When he had entered the cab, he had proclaimed how cute I was, loudly. I’m not even sure he recognized me… probably not considering how many people bartenders serve. He said several times how he thought I was very cute. He asked me on a date twice. I deflected on answering, and eventually he moved on to telling me a couple times, “I think you’re really cute, no matter what everyone else says.”
There are several levels of bitterness here for me. First, if he was serious about the date instead of just looking for a boost to his own ego, he would have remembered I’ve driven him before and also been served at the bar by him before. He should have maybe asked nicely, or tried to connect with me on a more personal level for me to take it seriously. The way he asked made me feel more like an object he could conquer and beat his chest with his fists about instead of an actual date. Another thing that left a bad taste in my mouth is how he just didn’t realize that the last line about “no matter what everyone else says,” is meant to tear a woman down and make her grateful SOMEONE is paying attention to her, and that’s better than nothing, right?
The second time he said it we had arrived at the destination. I replied, “You’re being very patronizing, you should get out.” Even if he meant it as a joke, it was a joke at my expense and uncalled for. I handled him as gently as I could, understanding he didn’t necessarily have bad intentions, but was a bit of an oblivious bro.
Sunday’s shift wasn’t necessarily better. It was fairly slow, but I was starting to lose patience with people, especially what seemed to be out-of-town drivers unfamiliar with our one-way streets.
Something did serve as a pick-me-up, though. Driving to the west side of town, I saw this in the corner of my eye:
There was a call ahead of me, so I didn’t feel comfortable swinging back around to check it out. I did make my way back over an hour later, though. It was still there, but there was something peculiar.
I snagged it. This is one of the many perks that comes with my job: being all over the city and finding the things people purposefully leave out for other people to take.
My last ride of the weekend had my emotions a little confused. It started out with three drunk gentlemen coming out of a house party. The man in front immediately started flattering me with how cute he thought I was and how awesome my tattoos were. He wasn’t being disrespectful, but it wasn’t exactly touching either. I’m not art on display, I’m a person, so hold a conversation with me.
Along the ride I ended up giving the bird to a pedestrian for not watching where he was going and crossing against a light, giving the same manly arms-in-the-air “I’m walking here!” gesture many male students give when they think they are invincible. The man in the front seat seemed really impressed with it, telling me how cool I was. I just kinda said, “Thank you,” and let the three men keep talking to themselves.
At one point the guy in the front asked me for my card. I’m not sure if he meant my personal card or our company card, but I handed him the company business card and said that if he wanted me again as a driver he could ask dispatch to send me. A few minutes later, he asked for a pen, I assumed it was to write my name down.
The confusion set in when we got to the destination. Dude-bro in the front seat handed me two twenties wrapped around a business card. “What’s this?” I ask, pulling it out. I was confused about the two twenties, too, since the meter was only at $21. His friends exploded with laughter, “ooOOooooOOoo he gave you his number!!” They were all out of the car at this point and the man who was in the front seat looked really embarrassed as his friends razzed him on the way up to their building.
In my twelve years driving I don’t remember a single time someone gave me their phone number, it’s always been a demand for mine. It was actually a really sweet thing to do, but spoiled by a couple other things. First, I didn’t feel he was even trying to connect with me. He only verbalized observations about me, didn’t try to connect on a personal level. I feel like he was giving his number to “a cute taxi driver”, not “Becky, the awesome chick I had a connection with.” Second, he wrote his phone number so badly the first time it was illegible, and the second time he tried to write it on the card it was nearly as bad. He was pretty drunk.