It can be stated fairly accurately that the average American cabbie is exposed to everyone and everything, meaning that all the positive and negative and confounding and frustrating aspects comprising culture and life and behavior in these United States are presented daily for your inspection, whether of course you are either prepared for it or not. Not unlike Edith Wharton's famous short story, you are immersed in the Xingu River, capsized in the human river flowing all about you. Friday we walked for just a few minutes on the trail shadowing central Oregon's McKenzie River, a broad and lively flowing stream popular with rafters. While the river was wonderful, the human traffic noisily occupying State Highway 126 destroyed the ambiance despite us coming upon two reluctant blue herons sitting on a bridge railing. At least their protests contained validity, a quality often lacking amongst large segments of America's coddled and pampered and protected population. In America, life must be "climate controlled" all the way to the grave. And shockingly, early yesterday evening I almost witnessed the most horrific incident created by some of the attitudes I am hinting at. When you think life's rules and mandates don't apply to you, the results can be fatal, not only to you but also your family.
Driving south-bound on Elliot near the Pike Pace Market I noticed a most unusual entourage, a combination bicycle contraption containing three separate pedal mechanisms powered by a father and his two young children. Attracted by this I was watching them as we approached a red light. The father, instead of stopping continued forward into the intersection only to miss killing himself and the children by a spilt second, a car flying past them at 40 miles per hour. Witnessing this kind of blatant irresponsibility was appalling, prompting me to slow and down and comment. Responding that "it was only a simple mistake" I replied it was clearly more than that. Reacting angrily to me I only hoped this incident was brought home to the mother's attention by the daughter, a tyke of about 6-7 years old: "Mommy, Daddy ran a red light and we were almost hit!" Perhaps the little girl also described how he responded to a cabbie's concern. I still retain faith in America's youth! Hopefully the father has been consigned to the living room couch. Far better than a coffin, wouldn't you say?
Yes, another example of life as it really is, denial not replacing the factual. From my taxi perch I see and hear it all. Saturday night I told some fellow drivers that the Mariner's game had just ended. One driver, clearly disbelieving me, said it should be letting out at Ten PM. It was then 9:30 PM and the Washington Nationals had just defeated the Mariners by a score of three to one. My response implied he was a complete idiot and that he should turn on his taxi's radio. Unfortunately he is typical of who is driving currently beneath the local top-light. And they wonder why they don't make any money?
Sunday's first fare was a Wallingford-area ride to the airport, the woman tipping me an additional five dollars after already tipping on her card. Why? Because she could and also clearly enjoying our interaction and conversation. Thank you very much for both the recognition and the money. Today I too have been giving out extra large tips. Why not is all I can say, why not?