It feels like the drivers, bicyclers, and pedestrians are getting exponentially worse. It might be all of the events that bring in out-of-town drivers, but I’m thinking it’s not. People jump out in front of me on a regular basis, bikers don’t use hand signals, they just stare at me and get in the way, then flip me off when I can’t figure out what the crap they’re doing, and motorist are making more wild maneuvers like turning left from the right lane, right from the left lane, driving the wrong way on one way streets, and generally just being morons. They have shit to do, everyone else on the road doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter if they can’t figure their shit out until the last minute, they’ll flip me off the entire time and pretend it’s my fault.
I tried to be nice to someone. They drove down the street near me with a completely flat tire, so I rolled up next to them at a stop light. It took me 10 seconds of them staring at my hand gestures for them to roll their window down and when I said, “You’ve got a flat tire, you shouldn’t drive on that,” he stared at me with a glazed look in his eyes, “Ok, thank you,” and drove away. I don’t even think he understood what I said, or that his tire was flat in the first place. He was drunk and/or high and it freaked me out that most of the other people on the road are in the same condition.
I’m beginning to just expect every single driver to make the worst move. It happens several times per mile, and this expectation has kept me alive so far.
The highlight of my evening was picking up a very drunk, older white man from a middle-class bar and taking him to a part of town that is known to be predominantly populated with people of color that are also poor. He is slurring most of his words together. When he got into the front seat and just stared at me while I was filling in some of my paperwork, I asked him politely to put his seat belt on (I like people in the front seat who are especially drunk to wear them, because I don’t want them to fall over onto me or my equipment when I make a big turn). He drunkenly told me he ALWAYS wears his seat belt, while fumbling for several moments trying to figure it out. Well if you always wear it, why delay the ride while staring at me, bub?
The next topic of conversation was how much he adored a different driver of ours. He described her in detail, her voice and hair. It got pretty creepy. Then he started complementing me, which compounded the creepiness. He asked how long I had been driving cab, twice, because drunk people forget to listen to the answers to questions they assume are polite conversation. He asks if I have a family. I dodge the question, but he asks again, so I say, “It’s a touchy subject and I don’t want to answer.” He grabs my arm at the elbow, so I release the steering wheel with that hand, in case he yanks in his drunkenness, and I say sternly, “Don’t touch me.”
He gets a little apologetic, and a lot defensive. I move the conversation to how pretty the moon is, but he ignores the cue and wants to talk about how he’s moving soon. “Oh? Where to?” I ask, hoping it’s to a different city. “Two blocks away!” Well that’s odd. “Why’s that?” I ask.
“Can I be racist?”
“What? You won’t even let me talk?”
“No, I won’t let you be racist.”
“That’s not what I meant…” He starts to back-pedal, hemming and hawing.
“That’s exactly what you said, and I won’t put up with it.”
“Well lets just say then that I don’t fit in this neighborhood.”
“Well if you don’t feel comfortable here, no one is forcing you to stay.”
I got a DoubleTree cookie after this ride. When I asked the man at the front desk for it, he smiled knowingly and said, “Of course.” It made me feel way better about humanity.