Monday, January 25, 2010

Post Traumatic Stress and the 8th Commandment

This particular fare occurred early in my night, at around 5:30 PM, in Friday night traffic.

“Number 25, get The Big Kahuna” John the dispatcher told me and continued, “She’ll be standing out front. Good luck.”

Why did he tell me good luck, I wondered. When I arrived my passenger was standing on the corner waving at me. I stopped in front of her and she got in my cab.

“Take me to Roth’s in West Salem”, she told me.

As I started driving the radio was on full volume, and the dispatcher’s voice was grating, as he called out to the other drivers. My passenger asked me to turn it down, but I told her that I was hard of hearing and had to keep it up to hear the calls. She accepted this, but burst into a tirade of how much she hated Salem and all the people who lived here. She told me that Salem contained some of the most brutal and insensitive people that lived at this point of humanities evolution. At one point she said – “you can’t hear what I’m saying, but then that’s probably best anyway.”

Then she started to ask me questions, and as soon as I began to talk, she would tell me to shut up. Then she would apologize for her rudeness, and start talking again. She told me that she was suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, and I wanted to ask her why, but every time that I tried to speak, she started talking, and if I did get a word in edgewise, she would tell me to shut up. She kept asking me questions and answering them before I could respond. Then she started crying and I thought that she was going to attack me, as we entered Roth’s parking lot.

“I have to get a few things, so wait for me,” she said, as she got out of the cab. Then she turned back and asked, “how much is it going to cost me while I’m in there?”

“$40.00 an hour”, I told her.

She started to get angry, and then she said, “That’s fine, you might as well get a chunk of me along with everyone else. Park somewhere and I’ll find you”

I sat waiting for my passenger to return, with the meter running, for the next 10 minutes. By the time that she came out, and I drove up to the entrance, the meter read $11.90. After she got in I verified the address with her, to make sure that it was on the same side of the street that I thought it was. She became hysterical, because of my unprofessional ignorance, which was just like everyone else in Salem, so what should she expect. I ignored her and drove her, while she continued to cry and complain how she was being persecuted and subjected to intolerable injustices by the entire population of Salem. When I got her to her apartment, she grudgingly paid me and told me that she realized that I couldn’t control how much the meter charged, but that I was ripping her off, just like everyone else, so don’t expect a tip.

“Thank you Mam,” I told her, as she got out.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad night, and I booked $277.00, which is decent for a Friday night, and tips were average at $53.00. However, one of my last fares ended up being a problem that I wasn’t aware of, until Richard Haley, the cab company owner, on his night off, came down to the Amtrack station where I was parked at to talk to me about it, on Saturday night.

“Number 25,” he said. “Did you pick up some people at the Eola Inn last night?”

“Yes,” I told him “and I took them to Karen Street.

“That’s the one,” he told me.

I proceeded to tell him about a group that was too large to fit in my cab. A second car followed us to the address, and I drove down dark back roads to get there.

“They called Dotty (the dispatcher), after I dropped them off and complained that I threw one of the guys out of the cab, after telling him that I don’t drive niggers. “That’s ridiculous”, I told Richard, “the guy is a liar. I never threw anyone out of my cab, and I wasn’t even aware that there was a black person in the cab, if there was.”

“I never heard you talk like that, so I just wanted to make sure,” he told me.

This made me think about the ten-commandments, and the controversy about whether they represent the USA, in its multi-cultural and multi-religious state in the 21st century. My passenger violated the 8th commandment, which states “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (NASB) My question is this – does it matter whether you are a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Christian, when someone falsely accuses you of committing a crime or a negative act with punitive consequences?

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