Madison Weird

Thursday night seemed to be a night the wildlife went nuts.  At dusk I was driving near the airport and two huge birds were either viciously fighting or viciously making sweet, sweet love on a light pole.  As I neared, they fell down into the road in front of my car.  I had to swerve into the oncoming lane (there wasn’t another car) to miss them.  They were huge owls!  One flew off right before he hit the ground, the other landed clumsily, hopped a little, then flew off in a separate direction.  It’s pretty common for me to see an owl in this neighborhood dive into the median grassy-area to pluck something up for dinner in the middle of the night, but two together was pretty awesome.

Later in the evening there was a kamikaze rabbit that ran through a pack of cars and narrowly miss getting smucked by two of us.  I saw several raccoons on the side of roads rocking back and forth, and a fox saunter lazily (normally they dart or trot with way more energy) into a patch of woods near a different road.

Friday night the people were nuts.

Cash up, History of non-payment.
I was sent to pick up a woman from a 24 hour convenience store and take her to a college bar.  She was missing all her front teeth, was maybe 75 years old, and had a lot of phleme at the corners of her mouth.  I had the front passenger window rolled down and she immediately came at me with a bunch of commands and rapid stream-of-conciousness babble.  I got the impression she was mentally ill, not in any way inebriated.

She banged on the top of my open window several times and said “roll it up! roll it up!” But I had to wait until her barrage was over before I could tell her, “I can’t with your hand inside of the window.”  She refused to figure out how the sliding back door worked (thought I’ve had her in my cab before and she didn’t have a problem with it then).

I asked her for $12 up front for the ride, but she only had $9.  “Well will you take me as far as $9 can get me?  I want to see some rock and roll!”  I’m glad I didn’t have to explain to her the concept of only going as far as the meter could get for her money, that she’d already been through that process.

I got her about 5 blocks away from her destination after listening to her tell me about how bouncing checks were the reason our country was in the state it’s in, and other ideas that I can’t remember anymore.  Later that night I found out a different driver didn’t get cash up front from her because we didn’t know it was her ordering the cab and therefore the office couldn’t warn him.  He is out about $15, but maybe if she calls back we can extract that from her.

Homeless(?) Wheelchair Lady
I pulled up to an apartment building, but all the lights were off in the two first floor units.  I waited 5 minutes and the office got a hold of someone who said she’d be out, she has mobility issues.  I was in a sketchy neighborhood, so I was getting nervous.  Another 5 minutes go buy and I can see people moving around in the stairwell through the windows in the front of the building.  Two men were lifting a woman in her chair down the stairs of the building.

When the woman came out, she scolded me loudly about how I called them twice and they almost dropped her carrying her down the stairs.  I got the impression she was trying to make me feel guilty, so I just replied, “I thought you would live on the first floor!” Just as loud.

She sat in the front and I put her chair in the back of the van as one of her companions helped lift her legs into the car.  She understood immediately that I couldn’t help lift her for liability reasons after she asked me and I declined.  Her companion snapped at me because he thought I was going to knock over his full cup of alcohol while wheeling the chair to the back of the car, saying if I had it was coming out of the fare.  I was a little pissed because I had spent 15 minutes waiting and loading this ride without the meter running, and obviously I saw his booze and wasn’t going to spill his precious.

That man wasn’t coming along but the second one was.  He ended up dozing off in the 10 minute ride.  They were going to a section of State Street (downtown) where the homeless panhandle and sleep every night.  I helped unload and secondary companion helped the sassy lady into her chair.  They had given me a $5 tip with the cab vouchers they paid me in.  They aren’t cash, but people on disability get vouchers to help pay for rides when the buses aren’t convenient or running at all, and they work just as good as cash for the drivers.

Another panhandler came over to “help” her, and at first he said, “LET ME PAY FOR THAT RIDE FOR YOU!” Loudly, for everyone to hear.  “Yeah, give that girl a twenty!” She said, winking at me when I tried to say I was already paid.  The man shuffled off without even reaching into a pocket, starting to heckle other people.

Nope, you cannot judge by a cover, and I loved this woman’s dichotomous personality.

Gyro Trash
I’ve got a LOT going on right now in my life, I’ll write more about it at the bottom.  Having so many things I’m juggling has served to create a general, medium stress level instead of a focused, high burnout in cab driving.  It means I still don’t have patience for bullshit, but I don’t snap much anymore, but instead triage or deal with things calmly and firmly or dismissing them completely.

I picked up a very drunk party of 5 from the late-night gyro place downtown.  Before getting into the cab, one of the young men was throwing fries into the air and trying to catch them with his mouth, right up until it was his turn to get in.  As he got in with his open, unsteady to-go container, I asked him nicely, “Please don’t make a mess in the car?”

In reply, he threw the container and remaining food onto the gutter and closed the sliding door.  “Ok.”

I sighed just a very little in resignation, pause, and said softly, “Okay, I’ll get that for you.” I was not dramatic, I wasn’t not showy or angry, and I was very understated and nice, and I knew this would have the greatest impact.

I got out of the car, walked at a normal pace, picked up the garbage and threw it in the garbage can that was literally 3 feet from the taxi’s sliding door.  When I got back in, everyone was completely silent until the dude who did it said, “If I’d have known you were going to do that, I would have done it!  That was so baller!”  I grimaced a little, and then was forced to listen to affluent white people (two of them had man-buns!) in their early twenties sing gangster rap a capella for fifteen minutes for a tip that was less than ten percent.  I didn’t even bat an eye.

I picked up a VERY drunk man from one of my favorite east side bars at the end of the night.  The bar was kicking people out after a good show and several people who weren’t my passenger wanted to get into the cab.  I held out for the one who called and confirmed his address before I started driving.  He immediately started telling me I was going the wrong way, but it was hard for him to even sit steadily in his seat, so I told him I knew where I was going and confirmed the address with him a second time.

Yea, I live on Erie, but not off Sherman!  I pulled over after a couple blocks.  The only Erie in Madison is off of Sherman and Superior.  I tell him again, frustrated, that I knew where we were going.  As we get closer he says again that I’m way off.  I pull over again, get out my phone to googlemap it.  I make him tell me his address, and the second time he added in “East Erie STREET, not COURT!”  He was barely keeping his eyes open.  I look at my phone, then at him.  I put down my phone and turn around in my chair.

“Sir, do you think we’re in Milwaukee?”
“Sir, we are in MADISON.”

He blinks at me several times, blushes, apologizes a couple times and is very embarrassed.  I get a Madison destination out of him and make him show me his wallet with a credit card in it, half to make sure he didn’t lose it at the bar, half to make sure he’s capable of paying me.  At the end of the ride he then tells me that I made him feel really bad about this whole thing.  I hadn’t scolded him, he was feeling bad about it all on his own but wanted to blame me for it.  Still didn’t bat an eye.

Personal Life
I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been crazy busy with a new position at work (I’ve moved part time into the IT department, on top of two long driving shifts per week) and going to school full time (IT System Administration Specialist program at the local tech school for an Associate Degree).  I feel like my brain has these crazy spurts of soaking in all the new information with rapid success, and then 12 hours later I have problems figuring out how to work the damn toaster oven (which I’ve worked with great success for over a year).

It’s really awesome how easy school is as a motivated adult, though.  My biggest issue is dealing with idiot things teachers do sometimes.  One of my teachers is a total nutjob misogynist who won’t cover any of the material in class, but will tell anecdotal stories from 10-15 years ago that might have a slight connection to something similar in the book.  I never had this big of a problem with authority before.  It’s REALLY hard to shut my trap and just do the work when faced with blatant patronizing and incompetence.  If I get through this class, it’ll be the hardest earned A I’ve ever had… and the coursework is cake.

I also started dating someone and I’m afraid to acknowledge it in any public capacity for fear of it evaporating before my eyes.  A lot of my free time is focused there, though, so with this, learning my new work position, and school I have no available time to maintain stuff like this blog.  I’ll try to slip in smaller stories when I can, though.

About yellowandblackmail

I pick people up and take them where they want to go.
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