Monday, June 25, 2018

"The Killer"

An old hitchhiking trick is having the girlfriend stand in clear view while the boyfriend hides in the bushes.  When a driver stops to pick up what he/she thinks is a solitary woman seeking a ride, the boyfriend suddenly leaps out from his hiding place, jumping in with a big grin, implying Let's go!"  While irritating, it is usually an effective strategy with getting the couple down the road. 

Here too on a Friday night did I answer a call at a local University District hotel, pulling up to the waiting female passenger, only to have her call out to her boyfriend lurking on the other side of street concealed by darkness and local shrubbery. She said he was "only smoking a cigarette" but after a few minutes I doubted her story.

Perhaps instead he was "on the lam" and being extra careful to stay away from prying police eyes, never knowing when Seattle's finest might appear. But whatever the both of them ultimately were doing I don't care whatsoever other than I don't think it's the best idea to be threatening because you never know what kind of response you might elicit, especially since his words were "tossed knives" intended to cut and harm the receiver, in this case, innocent me.

It all started simply enough, with me asking what I have asked a least ten thousand times," Where are you going?"  When told the "H ________ Motel, I responded I had picked up there earlier.  This is when the young man, more or less 22 to 25 years old, asked very directly "which room, male or female, what time" which led me say "I can't tell you that."

With that interaction creating an immediate uncomfortable silence, I, intending to just be friendly during the next 7-10 minutes we had together, mentioned I had just come from Chinatown and my "meal-of-the-day," with the guy asking me where I went, along with a more general question about the "best dim sum."  Telling them it was the "Honey Court," and during the day, having great dim sum, he starting  aggressively asking me a bunch of rapid-fire questions which I first attempted to answer until realizing there was something odd going on, deciding to verbally slap him with a "I can't continue answering these lines of questions." which prompted his volleying retort of, "But you have!"

Suddenly I had the thought "How naive I had been!" way back in 1972, facing prison when it seemed I might have to refuse induction into the US Army, not comprehending who I would have been incarcerated with, dealing with people like this guy, obviously someone having spent many years "hardening behind bars," developing a survival strategy unequivocal its pugnacity, willing to kill anyone, me too if necessary.  That I now had a "killer" in the cab was now very clear.  Whether he had murdered someone, or would in the future, the potential was there, and I knew I was "nothing to him, nothing at all!" just another obstacle to kick out of his way.

Upon that understanding I shut up and got them to where they were going, not taking his "Thank you, brother." seriously as they left the cab.  And when I know that the prevailing current attitude is that anyone at any time can do this kind of occupation---hauling complete strangers from point A to B--- I say 'how naive" because being with people isn't simple, and if you think so, you just  might end up dead and that is just the way it is.   For many, life is no joke, and the passenger I just described wasn't laughing.

"You want to die?!  he says, "Why sure, I'll be glad to oblige you!"

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