Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday Night

Sometimes a shift tests your faith. Faith in the laws of probability, but then ultimately all faith leads to some kind of a spiritual force, whether it is “GOD” or the energy flow whose undulations are the universe. Tonight was one of those nights, where my faith was being tested. I was getting nothing but short grocery runs, when it went from bad to worse. By 7:00 PM, after 3 hours, I hadn’t even booked $20.00, which was depressing since I needed to average $50.00 every 3 hours, just to have an average night, monetarily, but then that’s where faith comes in, by believing that it will average out, like it almost always does. Then John, the dispatcher, gave me what could potentially be a good run, and all you need is one good run, to turn things around, sometimes. I was heading out to Creekside golf course, to pick up someone in the lounge. Even if they didn’t go far, they would most likely tip good, so I was thinking positive when the radio blurted out my number.

“Number 25, I have to take you off that call, and send you for someone who can’t get into the van I just sent them.” John told me.

He gave the country club call to number 10, who had the van, and the address that he gave me was that of a couple of regulars that never went farther than $4.00 - $7.00 away, and never tipped. When I arrived there were 5 people, but I only had seat belts for 4, with the Buick sedan that I was driving that night, so one guy decided to walk. The rest were women, including the walker wielding octogenarian, who couldn’t get into the van.

Hebrews chapter 11 is the great faith chapter of the Bible, and like I said before, sometimes driving a taxi cab is more of a ministry than being the pastor of a church, especially when you’re supposed to act like Jesus to people who view you as a servant. I told the woman, who was a regular passenger, that I had been driving for the past 6 years, and still didn’t know her name, that she could request a 5 seat belt sedan, next time. It was a slow arduous process for the elderly woman to get in the cab, and after I collapsed her walker and put it in the trunk, we drove off.

They were going to a restaurant that was within walking distance from their apartment complex, for the average person. On the drive there, they were all talking and it distracted me, so I missed the first entrance into the parking lot and had to go around the back way. When I pulled into the parking spot, the guy who walked there ahead of us was standing in front of the door waiting, and the meter read $4.10. The woman handed me a $20.00 bill, but since the last couple of fares also gave me $20.00 bills for their short runs, I was out of change, so after I got the walker out, and helped the elderly woman out of the cab, I went into the restaurant and got in line, to ask for change. When I finally got out and handed the woman $16.00 change, and told her to forget about the dime she looked at me angrily.

“It never costs this much to get here. I’ve never paid more than $3.40.” She said.

After I got over the shock of her complaint, I got angry, but smiled and said, “well ma’am, 60 cents won’t make me rich,” as I reached into my change pocket and pulled out 2 quarters and a dime, which I placed in her outstretched hand. I always carry 2 dollars in change, made up of 6 quarters, 3 dimes, 3 nickels and 5 pennies, along with my $20.00 in 2-$5.00 bill’s and 10 singles, to start with, as the cab drivers handbook instructs.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NASB). Once again, this verse would become alive to me, as I got a call to pick someone up at “Hard Candy,” the gentleman's club on North Commercial. Before I even got to the driveway, I saw a guy waving at me, so I pulled over and he got in my cab.

“Hi,” I said, “how’s it going?”

“I need to go to Presley’s Playhouse, with a stop at my house first, and maybe a trip back to my house after that, if I don’t get in.”

After I called it in and we started to drive he told me his life story, like so many people do. Maybe they figure that since they hired me, it includes having someone to pour their hearts out to. He went by the name Butch, looked about 40 years old, and he fit the name with a black leather jacket, greasy jet black hair and a goatee and mustache. He looked like a bearded Marlon Brando in “The Wild One”, and told me that he didn’t have any ID, so he had a hard time getting in places that checked ID, and all strip clubs do. He talked a mile a minute, so it was hard for me to get in a word edgewise. When that happens, I find that it’s best for me to just listen, because they don’t want my advice, they just want my ear.

He told me that he had prison ID, but didn’t like to use that. He didn’t have a driver’s license by choice, because he killed 2 people, when he drove drunk in 1996. That was the reason why he was in prison; he only served 4 of his 7 years for good behavior. He said that he would never drive again in his life, because of the guilt that he felt. His insurance company was sued for 7 million dollars, and they settled out of court. He was so adverse to the DMV, that he wouldn’t even go there to get a non driving picture ID. After we stopped at his house for money, I dropped him off at Presley’s. When he paid me the $16.40 fare, he gave me a $20.00 bill and told me to keep the change.

As he got out of the cab he said, “if they don’t let me in, I may have to get another cab, so you may want to stick around.”

When I called it in, John gave me another call, but before I drove off, Butch opened my passenger door and said that they wouldn’t let him in. He said that he wanted to go to the new lingerie modeling place on Market, across from Fred Meyers, called Pussycats. I called John and told him the new plan, and on the way there he started to tell me about the swingers club that he and his wife belonged to. No more than twenty couples would meet each week in the upper room, above Bob’s Book’s, on State Street, and either pair up or have a group orgy. When we arrived at Pussycat’s he handed me another $20.00 to pay for the $17.10 fare and said to keep the change.

The rest of the night was made up of decent runs, including a$50.00 trip out of town to Monmouth, with a $16.00 tip. I had 2- $10.00 tips, and a few $5.00 ones, and by the end of the night, I booked $224.50, and had a total of $76.00 in tips.

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