While sitting behind Garfield High School in my taxi late July 4th watching a most unusual performance I kept thinking about the famous witches' scene from Shakespeare's Macbeth. No, there was no bubbling pot or incantations but strange indeed were the goings-on. It was in the 8th grade in tiny Iron River, Alberta that I was first introduced to Macbeth. Given my "scholastic status" I was always being chosen for various positions. Do I know how to act? No, I have never been well-behaved.
This tale could also be about picking up passengers when you know they are going to present some kind of problem. Us taxi veterans instinctively (and also cognitively) know who we are letting into our taxi. We know all about it. I do attempt to avoid murderers and rapists but that still leaves a large cross-section of trouble makers to contend with. The two African-American men I stopped for on the SW corner of 5th & S. Jackson fell into the "difficult" category. Difficult to get paid or difficult to handle their innate anger or disappointment, pretty average stuff like that. I make every attempt to be EOE in the taxi-sense, EOP or equal opportunity passenger, giving everyone the chance to to ride in my taxi. After this episode, I might be revising my standards. I suppose it was potentially dangerous. It was more silly than anything threatening.
Thin & Hefty got into the cab, Thin obviously higher than a 4th of July rocket and Hefty, wearing a red, nylon jumpsuit, was Mister-in-Control and said keep moving forward, making it extremely difficult to know exactly where I was ultimately heading. Hefty finally decided on turning left onto Rainier S, and yes, he responded, on to Martin Luther King Way South. I immediately regretted picking this pair up. Thin was uttering unintelligible sounds and words, something he would keep up for the 30 minutes I was associated with this distorted crew. Ut-ut-ut! Um-um-um! and variations upon similar themes. I actually kind of liked Mister Thin. He was just stoned completely out of his noodle, that's all. Hefty was more stoic, and besides he was on a mission to pick up his "fireworks." Initially I didn't understand that he was actually referring to real 4th of July fireworks and not using the term as an euphemism for what I could only imagine. Hefty was in an off and on cell phone conversation with some character called Ray Ray. It was Ray Ray this and Ray Ray that and "Where are you, Ray Ray!? Hefty pleaded, "I gotta get my fireworks."
Frankly, all this this was driving me wild. Here I was with these two absolute lunatics and there were thousands of folks screaming for taxis post-fireworks display. Finally Ray Ray told Hefty that he and someone else (didn't catch his name) would be waiting for us behind Garfield in what he termed the "dugout." Though Hefty said he had plenty of money I had yet to see any, fearing all of this was going be a fiasco.
Pulling up to the play field bordering the east side of the school I saw two young guys indeed down there behind the baseball diamond. The situation was somewhat humorous because Thin & Hefty refused to go down the stairwell and the mysterious pair below refused to come up. It was clear that both parties feared some kind of violence. I was confident that my pair of jokers were not armed. Upon getting a closer look at Ray Ray and his hip-hop dancing, swaying like a cobra companion I thought it quite likely that they were packing.
I finally got Hefty to give me a twenty, Thin, mumbling incoherently, was trying to snatch the bill from my grasp using a scissor-like motion with his fingers. That Mister Thin, he was definitely entertaining. The last I saw of him he was exclaiming loud nonsense into the night air. Quite the orator, that Mister Thin!
Ray Ray finally came up from the dugout shadowed by the cobra who never it appeared stopped his hypnotic dance. Hefty leaned against 478, somehow his extension to a better reality. By this time, given I had the twenty in hand, I was ready to leave. The meter had now passed 25 dollars and I was ready to make my move out of there. Thin had left the rear right side door open but I knew the motion of the car taking off would probably shut the door. Finally Hefty stood up and away, slowly inching toward Ray Ray as the fireworks had been brought out and some kind of deranged negotiations were taking place. Three more inches and I could roar off without hitting Hefty. I liked him too! He was like a large, very pathetic Teddy Bear. But I had had enough of all this nonsense and off I went into the night wishing all of them the best but Hell! why was any of this madness necessary? I guess they had their reasons but next time guys, just try to avoid involving the innocent taxi driver. All I wanted to do was go down to Chinatown and have a bowl of noodle soup at Ocean City, which I can report I did, Wai Chi and the others the best waitresses in the known world!