Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Weekend Back

Weird scenarios and driving a cab go hand in hand like sex and babies. In the case of the cab driver, his participation is required for the birth of these stories about the people that he transports, from one location to another. He does it for a living, and depends on his fares to provide his livelihood. Fares are like wrapped containers that contain a variety of complex personality combinations. Sometimes you pick up a rich philanthropist who gives you a $20.00 tip after you drive him to the Portland airport for $120.00, while other times it’s a fast talking scam artist who gives you a sob story about why he can’t pay you today, but will call for you tomorrow and give you a big tip. This weekend was peppered with drunks, from a dozen bars, and venues doing everything from stopping at Taco Bell, before going home after the ZZ Top concert at the State Fair, to hitting another bar.

Around 9:00 PM, Friday night I picked up a guy at the Silver Dollar and took him down the road a few blocks to the Pink Elephant. On the short trip there he began to wax philosophical about the meaning of life, and asked me what kind of a legacy I was leaving behind, and then wanted to know what I would tell someone about life if I knew that I would be dead the next day.

“What advice would you give someone, if you knew that it was the last thing you ever said?” My passenger demanded.

“Do you read books?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he told me. “I like to read non-fiction mostly, biographies and informational books.”

“Have you ever read the Bible from cover to cover, until you understood it?” I asked him.

He looked at me with a shocked look on his face, and said that he never read the Bible. I told him to read it like a book, to try and make as much sense of it as he could, but to remember that it was actually a collection of shorter books, letters, history, poetry and even a play, all dealing with the subject of man and his relationship with God, at different points in time, as told by one particular culture.

“Yeah, but there are all the thous and therefores, and it get’s too confusing,” he said.

“Skip over the stuff that you don’t understand or that confuses you,” I told him. “There are chapters that are building plans that, unless you are planning on building those items and structures.”

“But it’s all important,” he insisted, “because it’s the inspired word of God. Do you believe in God?”

“Yes,” I told him, “but you asked me for advice about life, so I gave it to you.”

“Yes, you did,” he said, “you’ve told me more than anyone else has.”

The meter was only at $3.80, after our short trip, but he gave me a $10.00 bill and said to keep the change. I took one of my cards and wrote three things on the back, Bible – Steinbeck – Dostoevsky. Then I told him to start with the Bible and then begin reading the others, or read them all at the same time, since he could get them from the library.
I picked up two different lesbian couples at the gay bar in town, at different times. The first couple had me take them to Duffy’s hanger, so they could dance with a live band, but were upset when they saw the parking lot filled with motorcylcles, even though there were no Gypsy Joker decals. The second couple had me drive them to Jack In The Box and then to the fems house, with her butch. While were waiting in the drive through line, the fem, told me that I was creepy. To which I responded that all taxi drivers had a criminal background check every year. I was going to tell her that I quit storing my dead passengers under my house, but thought better of it. She gave me a $3.00 tip, so I guess I must have redeemed myself.

I picked up Jeremy, Norm Walters friend, who always asks for me personally, when he takes a cab. He told me that he was still reading my taxi blog, but wanted to know when I was going to write about him.

“I’ll have you in my next entry,” I told him, as I drove he and a friend to “Freeloaders.”

Sometimes drunks can be exasperating, as in the case with a group of 3 people that I picked up at Midnight on Saturday, at the Alibi. They couldn’t find their car keys, to get something out of their vehicle that they were leaving at the bar, so I waited for 10 minutes and finally started my meter. Then the guy gave me a $5.00 for waiting and said that they didn’t want to leave yet, and didn’t need me. After I did my paperwork and called it in, my drunk passengers got back in the cab and said that they changed their minds and wanted to go to the South Liberty Bar & Grill, so I called Larissa the dispatcher back, and told her. On the way there, they changed their mind and wanted to go to Taco Bell first, and then to their house. By the time that I dropped them off at home the meter was at nearly $30.00 and they gave me a $10.00 tip, and the female passenger said. “I would hate your job, if I had to deal with people like us.”

One of my last calls of the night was 2 guys, who looked to be about 30, that I picked up at Westside Station and drove to North Keizer. On the way there they talked about the 2 young women that they came to the bar with. They sat in the back with the one whose birthday they were celebrating. She wanted to do something crazy they said, and she was very drunk.

“I know,” one of the guys said, “let’s get naked,” and he took off his shirt. Then the other guy did and then the birthday girl took her top and bra off and the two guys began to…. Since I’m not trying to write a pornographic blog or shock, offend or disgust people, I will leave the rest of the details out. This led to a very explicit conversation about sexual encounters that we had. I had enough passengers solicit me for sex ranging in age from 23 to 76, both male and female, that I was able to keep their interest until I got them to their apartment.

It’s good to be back to seedy Salem, after the bustling fast paced insanity of traffic jams on the freeway, main streets and parking lots in Los Angeles. I once loved L.A., as much as I do Oregon now. The rain has washed the love out of me, other than in a nostalgic way.

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