Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stupid Person Tax

            The rain has begun to fall again this year, marking the transition from Summer, to Fall/Winter.  When I arrived at the office there was a new bulletin posted on the entrance/exit door that read:
“If smoking is more important then your job keep smoking in non-smoking cars.  You will be caught!  Then you will be suspended or fired.”

            Since I don’t smoke, the bulletin didn’t apply to me, so other than recording it in my journal, I pretty much forgot about it.  The weekend had its highs and lows, with mostly lows, since Friday night I booked nearly two-forty, with under $30.00 in tips and Saturday I barely booked $200.00 with over $50.00 in tips.  The weekend left a lot of time for hanging out with the other drivers at the Amtrack station, Greyhound or one of the other border hangouts.

            Around Midnight Saturday, I parked at Greyhound, where two other cab’s were parked.  I got out of my cab and opened the back sliding door of the van and got in, to find #44 in the front seat, with #11 sitting beside him. 

“I was just telling Dora,” #44 said, “that #52 didn’t show up for work since Monday, and he’ll probably get suspended when he get’s back.”

“He’s weird,” #11 said, “anyone who wears racing gloves in 90 degree weather, like he did last summer is not normal.”

“He said that his skin was very sensitive to sunlight, which is why he wore sunblock on his face but preferred gloves for his hands.”  I answered.

“Either way he’ll get a new asshole torn when he does get back without scheduling the time off or getting relief,” #44 said.

Number 11 immediately changed the subject and began talking about all the new video lottery Deli’s that have opened up all over the city, since the economy got bad over the past few years. 

“It’s like a tax on for stupid people,” she said.  “They put up these tax collection stations all over the city and put signs on top saying ‘Oregon Lottery (stupid people come here to pay your tax.)’  The thing is, it’s in that 1980’s John Carpenter movie, ‘They Live,’ which was about aliens from another planet who controlled the earth, only you didn’t know it, unless you wore special sunglasses that allowed you to see past the veneer.  Stupid people are drawn to these places to deposit their pay checks, unemployment stipends and welfare payments in receptacles that deceive them into believing that they are taking a chance on multiplying their meager incomes, when in reality they are simply paying an additional tax for being stupid.  In other word signs that say ‘Oregon Lottery” are in actuality saying ‘stupid people pay your additional taxes here.”

I saw my opening and took it.  “Last night around 2:00 AM I got a call for the corner of South Commercial and Robbins lane, for an SPD (Salem Police Department) call.  Dotty told me that the guy I was looking for had a white back pack that he was wearing.  When I arrived my passenger waved at me as I stopped next to him.  After he got in the cab I asked him where he was headed and he started to tell me about how his girlfriend asked him to go check the mail and when he went outside to see, she locked him out of the apartment and when he tried to get in she called the police, which is the reason why they sent for a cab. 

“Take me to the cheapest motel,” he said.

“My first gut reaction was to ask him how he would pay me and require money up front, since SPD calls are notorious for burning you.  What can you do, call the police?”  That would be the Motel 6 on Hawthorne,” I said.  “The only place here in the South is the Phoenix Inn, which is double the 6.  Then they tore down the cheap places like the ‘Oregon Capitol Inn’ and the ‘City Center Motel,’ to build multi-million dollar condominiums that are currently vacant.  So we’ll have to go to the East side where the majority of motels are.”

“I don’t care,” he said, “just get me there.  Are there any bars nearby?”  He asked.

I told him that there were half a dozen bars within walking distance, with Players Lounge right across the street.  He kept talking about the way that his girlfriend tricked him, and locked him out of the apartment, but that life was an adventure and if you didn’t have bad things like this happen to you once in a while, you wouldn’t enjoy the experience as much.  When we arrived at the motel he had a credit card which I ran, and called in on the radio.  After a minute, Dotty called back that it was rejected after she tried twice.  So he gave me another credit card, but it was also rejected.  Then he suggested that we try an ATM, so we went across the street to Players, and I went in with him. 

The ATM was at the back entrance, so I stood at the cigarette machine and waited while he unsuccessfully tried both cards.  The two bouncers, who helped me recover money from another fare who ran without paying said hello and asked how I was doing.  When I told them what was happening they said good luck and walked off.  After a few minutes of what appeared to be unsuccessful attempts to extract money from the ATM, my passenger admitted that he was at a loss about the situation, but that if he could get back to his girlfriend’s apartment, everything would work out and he could pay me.  I told him that I wasn’t going to double my loss on a chance that it would work out, since he already lost any credibility that he may have had with me.  After I took all his information, including the information off his Maryland Drivers License, I gave him a receipt slip with his bill, and told him that the ride was over, as he disappointedly left the cab.

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