Friday, January 15, 2010

I Am Only One Part

Religion was the path that I took, back in 1971, and it ultimately taught me that I am only one part of the whole picture. According to Christian theology, using the Bible as the primary source of information, we find the analogy of the body of Christ, as used by the apostle Paul in his letters to the churches of the New Testament. I am only one taxi driver in a city with dozens of other ones, who then interact, like yeast with the raw dough comprising the population of that city in the form of fares. Salem, Oregon is only one of thousands of cities, spread all over the planet inhabited by billions of people, and serviced by a million cab drivers. Each person is a potential part of the whole, if they choose to be.

Sometimes the process is reversed, like when the dough lets the yeast know why it exists. Such was the case one Saturday night when I got a call at around 9:00 PM. When I arrived at my destination at an older home in the downtown area of Salem, a familiar figure answered the door. It was one of my regular passengers who worked at one of the many tattoo and piercing establishments that populated the city. Oregon seems to have an out of proportion number of tattoo and piercing businesses in relationship to its population, compared to the rest of the country. At least that was my observation after taking a cross country trip by train, in 2008, to the East Coast and Mid West. The man was about 30 years old, looked to be over 6 feet tall, must have weighed close to 300 lbs., was covered with tattoos and piercings, and dressed in black, with shoulder length hair.

“We’ll be out in a minute,” he told me, as he closed the door.

I returned to my cab and waited for about 5 minutes, until my regular passenger got in the front seat with me, and told me that someone else was coming. After another couple of minutes, a larger man than my passenger, who was also dressed in black with tattoos and piercing, got in the back seat.

“We’re going to the “Triangle Inn”, the new passenger said and asked “do you know where that is?”

“Yes,” I told him and started driving.

On the way there the two men were talking about the events of the day. It seems that the girlfriend of the man in the back seat just had her 4th child, and he was so stressed out by the birth and his girl friend’s demands that he was going out to get drunk. I soon found out that both men worked at the same tattoo shop doing both tattoos and piercings, and they lived in a communal house together.

“I’m sure it was mine!” The man in the back seat exclaimed. “When I looked in its eyes I knew.”

“DNA testing would tell you for sure,” the guy sitting up front with me said.

From their conversation I found out that my passengers and the new father’s girl friend were part of a group that held regular orgy’s. Without contraceptives fate controlled what resulted, and pregnancy was one of them. The man was upset because he really wasn’t sure if the child was his, and he was afraid of the possibility that it wasn’t so he balked at the suggestion of DNA testing.

When we got about half way there the new father began to complain about the way that I was going, claiming that in 16 years of living in Salem, he had never been on this street before. We were on 12th Street South East, near Hoyt at the time, and I was wondering if my passenger was serious, since we were on a main route. After I ascertained that he was serious, I answered him with the same unreasonable logic that he confronted me with.

“I lived Salem for 18 years before I became a taxi driver,” I told him, “and over the past two years, I’ve found out that I didn’t know the first thing about the way that the streets worked. What way do you usually take?” I asked.

“I’ve never been there before,” he told me, and I changed the subject to the fact that I have 7 children that I fathered with my one and only wife. He was impressed and we talked about raising children for the rest of the way, as we headed west on Hoyt. When we arrived at the Triangle, the guy up front paid me the $13.80 fare with $14.00, and let me keep the change.

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