Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Washington State Patrol Call At Northeast 92nd & North-Bound I-5

One bane of long-time taxi driving is the tedium.  If variety is the spice, repetition is the bland and mundane, plying the same streets to well known destinations I could reach blindfolded or nearly so, pinning the tail upon the address donkey.  I hate, and will always despise that the money takes precedent over personal interactions but for me I can't deny that business, above all else, reigns paramount to all other possible considerations.  I  can't say that I don't like the majority of my passengers, because I do, sometimes treasuring the ephemeral intimacy that is the five to twenty minute cab ride.  Perhaps if I viewed taxi as a career, I would embrace it more passionately and comprehensively but having always seen it as at best temporary, I remain uncommitted to the experience.  It is only when the unusual occurs do I suddenly awaken and appreciate the  myriad opportunities taxi offers.  And picking up at the aftermath of a large, multi-vehicle accident is indeed very different and compelling, gaining my full attention, holding elements usually not present.  Pulling up to flashing lights and a wreckage strewn roadway contains a high drama and dynamic evoking tragedy and consequence and the most dire human circumstances, communicating above anything else the fragility of blood and our beating hearts, knowing that in a sharp terrifying moment life instantly, and forever, vanishing into the metaphysical mist. 

A general request had been put out over the tablet requesting a cab at the accident site.  Understanding it wasn't possible piercing a two-mile long stoppage, I drove north along the parallel "express lanes" until I arrived at the carnage, broken glass and twisted metal spread across the roadway.  A WSP officer approached telling me my five passengers would be with me soon.  Rain fell as other officers took measurements and photographs, recording the finer details. Clearly something major had happened but only later did I discover that an impromptu car race initiated what I had found, a WSP car chasing two racers having spun out of control, striking the medium barrier.  Another responding officer stopped to assist, only to have his car struck by a drunk driver whose own errant vehicle ricocheted into yet other drivers creating the mess everyone was now attempting to clean up and get past on the shortest and darkest day of the year.

After about ten minutes a Chinese family jammed into 478 and I drove them to a Lynnwood motel.  The young woman sitting in the front seat clearly was traumatized and now barely able to speak, having been behind the wheel of her family's now demolished car.  The two young men were giddy, somehow compensating for an obvious tension and sorrow. An older woman, maybe the mother, paid me with a warm thanks, with another daughter wishing me a Merry Christmas. 

I sat afterwards assessing my own emotions, I too somehow stunned by what I saw., life, and accompanying death, or in this case, near death fully communicating our transitory state.  Yes I might be bored but I remain intact and breathing, which is something to be thankful for.  Today I finally received "she-who-can't-be-named" tardy hand-created birthday card, reminding that at least one person still appreciates my continued presence.  Last Thursday was my 61st birthday.  Hopefully I will see my next.  The greatest present  I could receive would be to be permanently out of the cab and reading and writing to a larger audience.  My body and mind tells me it is past time to awaken to a book and hot pot of tea and talk and think about anything but taxi, that too reliable depression taking me down and away.  It will be a wonderful morning not stepping in a cab and wondering where  my next fare might be hiding.  I have done my time. There is nothing else to say about it.

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