Monday, March 30, 2020

The 78 Cents "Big Tipper" & Other Taxi Vignettes

While America and the world confronts the coronavirus, and with the current standing death toll 30,000 and counting, taxi amazingly remains the same, unaltered save for a steep decline in business, cab passengers remaining easily recognizable--the sane, the insane and the vast majority of everyone else fitting individual categories of the good, the bad and the indifferent.  I say this because many appear disconnected from the pervasive reality created by this pandemic, their corporeal or sentient parameters a small self-contained envelope protecting from the most urgent considerations, creating a false immunity from consequentiality.  Frustrating to have in the cab, it does once again accurately describes the taxi experience when a complete stranger enters and says, "Hello, this is who I am." As I keep saying, I meet everybody, and I mean everyone beneath our human beaming sun.

78 cents

What was her name, was it Mark as dispatch said, or Josephine, though never knowing for sure but Psychotic would be apt and appropriate.  Picking her up at Cascade Hall, a CPC psychiatric halfway house, she repeated, as she did over the telephone, that she was a big tipper.  Deranged from the beginning, she asked if I was going to rape her, this and other inappropriate behavior and comments prompting me to warn her that "I didn't want to involve the staff."  This stopped her for a a minute but being out of control it continued, along with saying I was getting a "big tip."  Finally after arriving back, she was two dollars short of the actual fare, then dipped into her pocket and and carefully counted out my "big tip": seventy-eight cents.

Big Time Social Security

Another RT, this time a huge mother and daughter team living at a Northgate hotel.  They were there due to a apartment building renovation,  the landlord putting them up in this nice  hotel for the past three months.  They needed to cash their SS checks and get takeout somewhere.  I enjoyed their banter back and forth, obviously comfortable with the easy insult.   Due to a bank quarantine, we used the drive-through teller, with a resulting confusion and mixup until told to park in front of the bank, where upon an exhausted employee came out and gave the good ladies their money.  From there we proceeded to a Jack-in-the-Box, further confusing the order taker, and finally, getting everything straight, made it back to the hotel.  The fare was $37.00 and I-couldn't-believe-it, along came a $23.00 tip.  "We'll gonna each pay 30-30," said Mom.  Why they did I don't know what but thank goodness for confusion.

Last Night the Big Liar

I hate it when I know better but, dumbbell me, not checking if he really had a credit card for what would be a $70.00 fare.  But halfway to Kirkland, and more stories than I could stomach, the "HopeLink has a credit card" line got me screaming "You are a liar!" and pulling off east-bound 520 onto Bellevue Way, I would have tossed him out at the grocery store just up the road but he kept lying and, having enough, I made it clear the ride was over.  It cost time and the bridge toll twice over.  I was ready to kill but of course the fool living to see another day.

This afternoon it was "I am 116."

Maybe he is or maybe he isn't, saying he was born in 1903 and joined the US Marine in 1933 and fought in WW II, the Korean War and in South Vietnam.  He was convincing enough and looked in his late 70s, early 80s.  If he was 116 he was truly a remarkable human specimen.  It was also important to tell me he the end of a Royal Italian bloodline, having outlived everybody.  But hell, he could say anything he wanted because I got $87.00 dollars to get him home.   And besides, I came upon a gas station with $2.39.9 regular. That also made me happy.  But it ain't like West Texas, where the couple I took to the airport this morning said they filled up their rental car for $1.42 per gallon.  Wow! is all I can say!

And there you have it, thirty thousand plus dead along with tens of thousands more 'round the world fighting for their literal breath but LIFE IN AMERICA rolls on, oblivious, in part, to the end.

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