Crazy things in the taxi seem to come in groups. I have mostly been working the airport lately, which means I drive business people going to and from it. Its pretty boring, occasionally somebody will talk to me, and sometimes they are even nice, but it is pretty mundane. The last two days have caught me up on crazy stuff.
Monday night I dropped somebody off at a new hotel on the North Side. I look at the computer and see a fare within a minute's drive, but probably in the ghetto. So be it. I take the 20's out of my money box and stuff them in my secret hiding place. It varies, sometimes its a hole in the taxi seat, sometimes an empty coffee cup on the ground. I pull up and two really really drunk guys get in, they are going to Blush, a strip club downtown that a certain somebody bike racer we all know frequents.
Strip clubs like taxis, we bring people to them, usually by them asking which one they should go to. For this they give us five dollars per person we bring in, and apparently let us hang out inside to spend the five dollars. So I follow the guys in to get my kickback, and the one guy is denied because he has a sleeveless shirt on. Picture a giant biker guy with a beard, long hair, and Harley shirt.
Bummer. We go outside, and the biker dude is prepared to have me drive him home and back, probably another 20 bucks of his down the drain. We are approached by some urban fellows trying to bum a cigarette. Biker dude offers to buy the "whitey" off the dude's back. Whiteys are those shirts that the urban guys wear, they are like bed sheets, and as Amy had told me, they wear like 3 of them at once. Biker offers 10 bucks for a whitey, where the urban guy then says "20 for the shirt and these pills," and pulls out some prescription medication. Biker dude talks him down to 15, and they bite the name off of the bottle for the transaction to go through.
I stand in the background wondering if indeed I am going to get my 10 bucks or if these guys are going to go into the alleyway and take all the pills. It all works out, the guys head back into the club and I collect my money. The door guy offers to let me stay for a bit, but I decline. My brother once had guys buy his way into a club and paid for him the whole time. weird.
I get in at 1AM and sleep until 5:45. I crawl back into the car and check the computer. Early morning is awesome for getting trips to the airport. There is a 309 fare on the screen, which is my neighborhood. I book it, hoping best case it is somebody going to the port, worst case somebody going downtown for work. Wrong. West Penn hospital ER going to Homewood. Homewood is basically like the free zone on the wire. Anything goes. There is a park called "milk crate park" where crack heads hang out like zombies. There is actually a bakery and a barber shop in the business district. Maybe half of the properties are empty and anything empty is missing all copper or anything valuable. Awesome.
The fare is a couple, younger than me, ghetto as all get out. She is on the phone the whole time talking about how she got "vicondins." Halfway through the ride she says that she didnt have a voucher, which is basically a free ride home charged to the hospital. This is where I should have confirmed that yes, they actually do intend to pay me money for my time and service.
We pull up to her house and she gets out, leaving the dude in the car. She has to fetch her purse to pay me. Right. Three minutes pass and her boyfriend suddenly has to pee super badly. He keeps telling me that he does and how he doesnt want to pee in my taxi. I tell him that he isnt leaving the cab until I get my money. Minutes pass and 911 is called, the fare is 17 dollars and I have wasted about 30 minutes at this point.
The kid says he is going to get out of the car and to come find him when the cops get there. I tell him not to, and he kind of listens. The whole time I kept my foot on the brake, never taking it out of drive. If I needed to I was ready to floor the 8 cylinder crown victoria into a wall or tree or something. I have a seatbelt and airbag, he doesnt. 17 dollars. I start getting creeped out, because the girl calls her boyfriend and tells him for us to come down and get the money, and she is in pain and cant bring it up, at which point I just start driving around the block at 15 - 20 mph, not letting her boyfriend out of the car. 17 dollars.
Cops show up, and no offense to Denny, Ruggs or Gerry, but they are the typical guys who would have beat me up in high school. I give them the run down, they take the kid down to the house to sort stuff out. I listen to NPR.
Five minutes or so later, the cops come back up and give me a piece of paper.
"This is the kid's information, it checks out."
"What do you think we are going to do? He has no money, do you want us to just beat him up or something? Beat the money out of him?"
"uhh well maybe arrest him or something???"
"We cant even arrest people for dealing crack, and you want us to arrest him for this? You need to learn the law. Take his information to the Magistrate and charge him for theft of services."
How about you do something to the kid so he doesnt think that he can do this whenever he wants? What a waste of time.
After that fiasco I drive some grad students to the airport. Sweet. Some business dudes get into my taxi and decide that it is too dirty for them and get back out. Whatever. I welcome the next fare, a pretty hot lady who is really well dressed with Louis Vitton full luggage. Bling.
As a luggage handler I have come to appreciate different types of bags. You can tell who is shopping at walmart, who travels for a living, and who has something to prove. The nicest yet was a Ducati bag with matching wheeled bag.
So we start rolling on what is going to be a 60 dollar fare to the suburbs. We small talk. She is flying back from the football game Sunday in New York. It was a nice weekend getaway apparently. Then she gets on the cell phone. It is probably illegal for me to record it, but I wish that I had. My brother used to call other cabbies and they would call him to listen when people were talking like she was.
Basically she was like Julia Roberts in pretty woman, but I think more expensive.
Shortly into her conversation I picked up on what she did for a living. She was talking to friends about "appointments," and "how he thinks he can treat me like shit because he is paying me." Fair enough. Then I start wondering how much somebody like that makes, or charges, or how the whole event even works. Where do you find a high class hooker?
The more she divulges on the cell phone, the flirtier she becomes with me, which was weird. "Left here honey." "Right here sweetey." and the final "straight through here" accompanied by an arm touch. So weird. If only those business guys knew how dirty the cab is now. Shudder. Along the way she drops a "he is paying me a thousand dollars a day, but sometimes it aint worth his bullshit." Question answered. New question: How do I become a high class hooker?
Her house was a modest suburban two story with a Nissan car in the driveway. Fifty Five bucks on the meter. She pulls out a stack of hundred dollar bills that had to be the most cash I have ever seen in my life. I thought about the stack of singles you see at the bank that is 100 dollars. This was at least that, probably more (do the math 10,000+). 65 bucks. In any other situation I would have thought this was a good tip. Hot chicks dont tip, every cabbie knows that.
A few more months until I am on weekend duty again.