Sunday, June 6, 2010
Driving a cab exposes you to the seamy underbelly of the city that you hack in, and Salem, Oregon is no exception. You experience the dark and the light, evil and good, polar opposites and the first weekend of June was no exception. It’s been cool, overcast and rainy, leaving the population excited about Friday’s sunshine. I watched a 300 lb. man in an electric wheel chair traveling east on Mill Street. He was wearing a wide brimmed black hat and a black overcoat. Somehow a wooden frame was attached to his chair, that formed a roof that completely shaded him from the sun, with a red and white striped canopy overhead.
The first weekend of the month was busy as welfare and social security recipients brandished wads of $20.00 bills, and solvent debit cards. Along with grocery store runs with shopping carts full of food for the month, were the prostitutes who set up shop at any of a dozen motels around the city. The hookers fed other carnal hungers of the flesh, as they talked on cell phones in the back seat, dickering over prices.
“One half an hour for 150 roses,” one of my passengers spoke into her phone.
I picked up some law students from Willamette University that were heading to an upscale restaurant, while they talked about a recent scandal that took place, involving a Willamette graduate who was a junior lawyer at a major law firm in town. He was busted for selling marijuana, but somehow managed to only get a misdemeanor conviction, and the law firm that he worked for didn’t terminate him.
One of the other guys said, “he must really have something on that law firm, for them to be willing to tarnish their reputation by keeping him on. He was probably supplying all the lawyers and their clients.”
Later in the night, when there was a dead period, I spotted #44 and #52 on the downtown border, standing outside of their taxis, so I pulled in alongside them. They were talking about #11, when I got there. Number 44 looked at me when I walked up and he said, “just ask #25 and he’ll verify my assessment of #11.”
“That’s right #11 was off for the last 2 months, and #52 never really got to know her when he first started. After I got to know her one day I concluded that I know that it seems unbelievable that a person like this walks among us, but it restores my faith in Satan to have contact with her. The other side of the faith in Satan equation is, faith in God, the all powerful creator of everything that is, who somehow is concerned with the most minute details of everything. This belief of two halves of opposing forces, ying and yang, evil and good, negative and positive, black and white, dark light, etc., is called dualism.”
Number 11, is Dora Dimes the dark side of the dualistic equation, who brings her rain cloud with her where ever she goes. After listening to her talk for a while you have to either conclude that she’s the most incredible human being you have ever met or a pathological liar. After a couple of encounters you realize that it is the latter, and begin to try and avoid her presence, until she corners you at one of the taxi stands and confronts you with penetrating stare that becomes a glare after she realizes that you know the truth.
Dora has driven a cab for most of her adult life, in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Denver. She’s in Salem for the past 5 years, since she divorced her 5th husband. Somehow she always manages to get a boyfriend, but after anywhere from a couple of months to a year, they bail out on her. She’s in her mid 40’s and has a build that catches most guy’s eyes, since she always wears skin tight black pants that compliment her shapely posterior, along with a tight blouse that her ample bosom seems to be struggling to burst out of.
“So why are you even talking about her?” I asked, “did she do something I don’t know about?”
“She got #39 fired,” #44 said.
“Why?” I asked.
“She told the boss that #39 grabbed her tits,” #44 said.
“Well did he?” I asked, but just got a grunt.
The rest of the night was filled with mostly drunks, but none of them attacked me, threw up in the cab or caused any scenes. In fact on a positive note, I picked up one of the most notorious drunks in the city, at an apartment complex in the south side of town, and she wasn’t drunk for the first time that I’ve driven her in 6 years. She said that she quit drinking and was going to the gym so she could get into shape for her upcoming 25 year high school reunion.