Taxi drivings' physical and mental costs are many. Ask any cabbie in any city or country and they will tell you, "taxi is a grind" which is undeniably our shared reality. I say this while grimly acknowledging that these weekly examinations of "all subjects taxi" sometimes fall short in overall literary quality, at least not matching my expectations. I attempt, despite all obstacles, to coherently express what I see upon the taxi streets. My occasional failure is directly attributable to what I said, bodily exhaustion sabotaging my best efforts, gibberish replacing possible eloquence. As it's difficult to drive with drooping eyelids, that equally applying to writing, navigating down the grammatical road with a half-opened brain, attempting the mentally impossible.
My difficulty then is an inherent side affect of doing something better avoided, namely pushing oneself beyond usual sanity and endurance. Often I tell passengers that taxi is a fatigued industry, saying everything is tired---the drivers, the owners, the cars, everyone and everything pushed past reason and rational commonsense. That I allow this, despite my best efforts, tarnishing and upending my writing, will never be acceptable, neither pleasing me nor, of course you my readers of these weekly tales and cultural taxi explorations.
So take this not as excuse but instead, plausible explanation as to why when encountering less than satisfactory passages. I am tired, only coming back to anything close to any true physical and mental resuscitation on Friday when of course the cycle again repeats itself, taking me back to the beginning, ready to check into the nearest hospital.
This is taxi reality,and the reality of that cabbie rushing you to the airport after telling him, as a passenger told me last night, that her flight was leaving at 10:00 PM, with the time now 8:53 PM, leaving us very little time to drive the 26 miles separating her part of Kirkland, Washington from Sea-Tac airport. No matter my current state of mind and body, I had no choice but to instantly transform into a race car driver, flying down I-405 in the dimming twilight. It's no wonder I have forgotten all usual punctuation rules, not caring about semi-colons when zigzagging at _0 miles per hour down the freeway, the road ahead and nothing else your primary concern, prepositional phrases and sentence construction, not to mention deconstruction, the least of your momentary worries.
The post-script to all this is that the south-bound entrance to I-405 was closed, necessitating a quick detour north, costing me three precious minutes we couldn't afford. Regardless we pulled up to American Airlines at 9:15 PM, meaning she would now be on that flight to Philadelphia. Only a seven dollar tip? Oh well, at least providing me a sincere thank you. Like I told her, I enjoyed the diversion form the usual, rarely having to "display my driving skills."
A Rude Awakening
I am taking a nap early Monday morning near University Hospital when suddenly I am awakened by a rocking motion. No, not an earthquake but instead a young man, thinking the cab is empty and stupidly trying to break in.
"Sorry, he said, I didn't mean to wake you up!" Thinking at first he needed a ride, I instantly realized that wasn't the case, noticing he was concealing what seemed to be a 6-10 inch knife.
"What do you think you are doing?" I asked. "What am I doing?" he responded, prompting me to drive away, my irritation giving away to his obvious relief that he was not lying dead upon the street, instantly understanding his potentially fatal mistake. Many cabbies are packing. I am sure he was glad I wasn't one of them.
Last Ride The Last Three Weekends
Every cabbie wants that last ride to be good one, and the past three weekends have rewarded me with decent trips. This just past weekend, thanks to tornadoes in Texas and her cancelled flight, I took the business-woman from the Queen Anne to Sea-Tac at 3:00 AM. Later in the day, counting my money, it was good I had that bit of late luck, bringing me up to a decent take.
The previous weekend, washing 478 at the Brown Bear in the Fremont, I got a run in nearby Ballard to Sea-Tac, a woman going back home to Indiana for a visit, $68.00 including a $15.00 tip. Wonderful! I gave the extra-board cabbie driving 478 that morning $10.00 since I was 20 minutes late. He was a "three-year rookie" and didn't want the money but gave it to him anyway. Give him a few more years out here and I am sure he won't be as friendly.
The start of these happy occurrences happened three Mondays ago at 3:30 AM in the West Seattle while vacuuming 478. What I thought would be a quick local fare from the area police station turned out to be a drunk Russian woman going way up north to Lynnwood. Knowing my regular "day" driver Tom likes to get started on time I flew up the highway but was stymied by the unusual request of parking in a local park while waiting for her to be picked up by husband/boy friend. Why I couldn't tell you but we waited long enough in the dark for her to notice that I was _____-looking. Anyway, it was worth $69.50 but unfortantely I was nearly 40 minutes late for Tom who had a 5:15 AM Capital Hill time-call to Sea-Tac waiting. I threw him a twenty as Tom growled. He made his time-call, no problem.
What "In the world!" Down at Pier 91?
Why I usually don't work the cruise ships was underlined Saturday when I got marooned with everyone else for over an hour. Finally beckoned around to the front, we again waited before being called forward which would have been fine except, given the circumstances, the lead drivers should have pulled up short instead of obediently driving to the very beginning of the line, unfortunately creating an bad situation when one of the "loaders" decided to freelance and back load all of us patient cabbies. While sometimes there are situational justifications to do this, there wasn't this time because it just wasn't busy and there were vans parked in front of me.
Seeing that he was loading vans and cars behind us, I walked up, asking "What did he think he was doing?" Thinking he ruled the world, he objected to any interference, even loading a car right behind me, saying "He is a longshoreman. He can do what he wants!" Poking my head into the cab, they responded, laughing, that they were not longshoremen. The next instant we inadvertently brushed together prompting his "don't you touch me!" Finally, after loading up 478, this person then comes around to my cab, saying "now touch me, now touch me, and see what happens!?" Of course all of this was amazing and my question will always be, "How the hell did he arrive to the thought that he could do anything he wanted whatsoever, including fighting a cabbie in plain view?" And people wonder why.............? Stop wondering because it's obvious, isn't it? Of course it is. Everyone knows, which is the big problem, and believe me, it is a very big problem.