"Hey, over here, this guy speaks English."
The guy was shouting to his girlfriend, who was negotiating with another cab driver sitting on the stand in front of me. They were two kids, mid-twenties, maybe, and were both a little wobbly from a night out drinking.
"Hey, mister, can you help us, we need a hotel room?"
"Every hotel around here is sold out."
Yeah, well, it's Marathon weekend, and with the Bruins and the Celtics in the playoffs and the Red Sox, I'm not surprised. What do you expect me to do?
"Don't you know a place?"
I know a lot of places, but I can't tell you if they have a room. By the way, it's three in the morning, you picked a hell of time to begin looking.
"Yeah. But the subways and buses are shut down. Can't you just drive us around to hotels until we find a place?"
My cabbie ears prick up. This, I tell myself, could be extremely lucrative. But right now I'm at the end of my shift. I'm tired, and I just want to go home. Besides, these kids are so goofy and pathetic, I kinda feel sorry for them.
Look, I tell the bleary-eyed couple, I could drive you around but that will cost you a small fortune. I pull out my Boston-area street guide, which includes a listing of area hotels and their phone numbers. I hand over the book and tell them to start calling. After a few minutes they find a place in Somerville. I start the meter and start driving.
"Thanks, mister. You're the best."
Along the way, they insist on talking, so I ask them if they just dropped into town tonight.
"We used to go out together, but haven't seen each other in a long time," the boyfriend says. "Yeah," the girl chimes in. "I got into town and called him up. We met at bar and had a bunch of drinks."
You mean, I ask the boyfriend, you live in Boston?
"Jamaica Plain," he answers.
So, why aren't we driving to Jamaica Plain? Why are you going to spend $200 to stay the night in a hotel?
"It's a little complicated," the boyfriend says... "He's married," the girlfriend answers. "Oops! I shouldn't have said that," she says with a giggle.
Look, I don't care one way or another, I say. I just asked.
"It was a big mistake," the boyfriend says. "Getting married, that is."
And what, I ask myself, will he be thinking tomorrow morning? And what will he be telling his wife about his whereabouts the night before?
"We are soooo lucky," the girlfriend says. "We not only got a cab driver who speaks English, but a really cool cab driver." The boyfriend leans over, sticking his hand across for me to shake. "Hey, what's your name. I'm Trevor. I just want to shake the hand of Boston's coolest cab driver."
This makes me wince. I hate it when fares try to get chummy with me. I ignore the extended hand and give him a name, any name.
By the time we reach the hotel, the two are cooing and giggling in the back. At the hotel, they again thank me profusely, hand me the fare and a decent tip, and walk through the sliding glass doors--a disaster in the making.
I cash out for the night. At home, I lean over and give my wife a kiss on the forehead. She moans softly and rolls over. I go downstairs, crack open a beer, and watch the early morning news.