I haven’t been able to write lately because I’ve been CRAZY busy acing school. I’m the queen of lists, time management, and resenting my body’s need for sleep. I also seem to be weirdly tolerant of shitty behavior in my cab and therefore not passionate enough to write about those things. I attribute this to school sapping my time and energy, and also there’s the phenomenon of things feeling way less dramatic when you’re not 100% entrenched in them. If taxi driving were still 90% of my world, I would definitely still be obsessing over how shitty people are within taxis. Now I get to expand my view and see people are shitty everywhere! Yay!
Lets get right to it.
A little after bartime I got a call on State Street (the main drinking drag) headed back towards the office. I figured this call was perfect to end my night, but then when a man came shambling towards me and put his face very near to me next to my open window, I felt dread. It was probably ten degrees and his eyes were teary from the cold, snot was running down his nose and into his long mustache and beard. He was short and stout, like a gnome, the zipper on his pants was gaping open, and there were flecks of things in his beard. He was leaning too close to me for me to feel comfortable, but he needed to hold onto the frame of my car to stand still. After he flubbed the address he was going to a couple times, this is how the conversation went:
“Have you been sick?” I asked.
“I don’t want vomit in my car,” I said. “Have you been sick?”
“I don’t remember.”
“You look like you’ve been sick.” The front of his shirt was wet, and flecks off his beard had started to tumble off of him while he spoke and breathed heavily.
“I won’t get vomit in your car.”
“But you have vomit all over you, if you get into my car, so will the vomit.”
“You’ve been sick and your fly is open.”
He reaches down to zip up his fly and takes a couple steps back into the road, blocking a bus from passing for a moment. I decline to take him, he was just not in any shape to ride in my cab. I apologize to him, but tell him he needed to find another ride home.
In farewell, he said, “Tell Pinhead hello!” I’m pretty sure Pinhead was a dispatcher for a different cab company who is deceased. I couldn’t tell if he was just so out of it that he didn’t realize or if it was a subtle “fuck you” for not giving him a ride.
Five Men One Front Seat
I believe I’ve touched on this in the past, but for some reason men LOVE sitting in my front seat. It doesn’t matter if they’re with their wife or riding alone. During my Saturday 12 hour shift, I counted 5 different men who were riding singly try my front door handle (I watch and make sure I power lock it quick before they get it open) before I have to say, “please ride in the back!” with a smile in my voice.
I don’t like men riding in the front seat because it seems to add a level of intimacy in conversation that I just don’t want. I also don’t like the blocked peripheral vision or the way they ALWAYS take my arm rest (center console). They’ll usually want to adjust my radio without asking and make a joke about talking on the mic.
In what movie have you ever seen someone get into the front seat of a cab? How is this normal? Even in all the Ubers driving around, I see people get into and out of the back unless the parties are big enough to warrant front seat usage.
I love my power locks more than anything in the world.
Bitch about dip, $8 tip
Yup. Someone SUPER drunk got into my cab and I took him home. Partway through he got on his phone and slurred to his wife or girlfriend about how he was on his way and he was sorry he stayed out too late and he promised to be quiet when he got in. He hung up and I started to smell the poignant mint of flavored chewing tobacco.
“Ugh! NO DIP IN THE CAB!”
“Oh, I won’t ssspit in here…” He rolled down the window. It was two degrees outside.
“Well you can’t spit outside, either, you’re going to make a mess! EVERYONE who has a dip makes a mess.”
“I won’t make a messss…” He rolled down his window more.
“That is so disgusting. I’m going to be checking the seats when you get out and there’s a cleaning fee if you get anything on the upholstery.”
“I won’t make a messsss.” He was half-laying down, putting the tin away, too drunk to sit upright.
“And this window is going up, it’s too cold outside for open windows.” I roll up the window and locked it.
I have had too many people spit on the floor of my cab and the seats of my cab with dip to ever let anyone else get in with it. It drives me CRAZY when people open an tin and start while in my cab. When this man got out, there was unchewed tobacco spilled on the seat because he was just too drunk to get it all in his mouth. I made him brush it all away and then he paid $20 for his $11.90 fare, told me to keep it, and then wobbled up to his door. I hadn’t charged him for a mess since it was dry tobacco, this was an apology tip (I assume) for just being too drunk to function. That or it wasn’t worth the effort for him to receive change.
“What is the Opposite of Misogyny?”
I had a pick up, during heavy and persistent snow, at a bar on the far North side going to the South side. It was a long ride in slippery, shitty conditions, but luckily it was late enough that there weren’t many other drivers on the road. My biggest struggles were knowing which hills to avoid, how slowly to take my turns, and also my passenger.
He was late coming out of the bar and after he got into the cab he wanted to know if he had time for a cigarette (to be smoked outside of the cab). Normally I would have said, “yes, but I’ll start my meter now,” however, he was using the Dane County Saferide program where he got his ride paid for by the Dane County Tavern League because they like to prevent drunk driving. It’s a great system and it pays some of my bills, so I never let any abuse it because I want to keep it. This man clearly needed it, he was very drunk.
Five minutes into the ride, he said something and tagged on “Honey” at the end.
“My name is Becky, please don’t call me Honey.”
After a moment’s pause, he stumbled on a few words, a mild apology qualified with how he used to be a male nurse and that’s just how you talked, followed with, “Can I ask you something and get an honest answer?”
I am the best at being blunt. “Sure,” I replied, knowing that the “and get an honest answer,” on anything meant something offensive would be coming my way.
“What’s the opposite of misogyny?”
Without missing a beat, I said, “misandry.”
“Do you know what misogyny is?”
“Yes,” I rolled my eyes.
“Okay then, what’s the opposite of it?”
“Misandry,” I repeated. It became clear that he didn’t quite hear me through his drunkenness the first time and thought I had just repeated misogyny or something.
“Oh. I’ve never heard that word, what does that mean?”
“The hatred of men.”
“How do you spell it? I’ll have to look that up later.”
I spell it. I think the whole point of that question was him trying to say he was calling me Honey because he LIKED me and RESPECTED me so much, not hate at all, and that he’d been called out on it several times by others. This was his way to argue his practiced point, he just hadn’t received my reply before and might have been a little shocked.
Ten more minutes went by, “what time is it?”
“It’s about one,” I replied
“I’ll just get out over here,” he pointed to a bar.
“I can’t do that, sir. I could if you would like to pay cash for this ride, but if it’s on the Saferide account I can’t take you to another drinking establishment.”
He grumbled a bit, but didn’t argue when I continued on our current path. A couple blocks from his house he started to tell me things like, “You must be scared with this job,” and, “you have a real stand-offish aura.”
“We’ve only said like, 6 words to each other. I’ve been concentrating on the road,” I said, drawing attention to the super shitty conditions.
“And you can’t even count!”
“If that’s how you want to play it, sir.”
The meter was about $32 and no tip.
There’s several reasons that I have a greater number of non-tippers on nights that are snow or ice storms. Sometimes it’s that the people who only take taxis when conditions are shitty just don’t realize tipping is a thing because they do it so infrequently. Whatever the reasons are, it’s so much more frustrating getting stiffed when I’m working extra hard. Fortunately, people who do tip will tip extra (to the point of embarrassing me) and it all balances out, but they shouldn’t have to make up for assholes like this, which gets me even more righteously upset.
I might sound like a money-grubbing pirate here, so I would like to add that I’m more upset about the principle than the actual money. Like, I tip a little extra (25-30%) at bars and restaurants because I know I’m a princess who orders substitutions, causes extra trips, and asks questions. Sometimes I put my foot in my mouth and make people roll their eyes, too. I’m fairly polite and show appreciation with my words and actions, though. I don’t force someone to bend over backwards, antagonize them, and then walk out without compensation.