Saturday, April 18, 2009

Last Fare of the Night

"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?"

Whadyamean?

"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.

11 comments:

  1. I'm following your Blog for a couple of weeks now, really like your approach and writing! Looking forward to your next post!

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  2. Oh man... That's a whole lot of trouble in the back seat of your cab. Yikes.

    Great blog, by the way.

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  3. Somehow stories like this remind me why I'm glad I got out of driving... go figure?

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  4. Enjoying the blog.

    We all have some good stories, don't we? Heres a quick one: I picked up a drunk one late winter afternoon on the corner of Cambridge St. and Staniford (??), in front of the "Red Hat" bar. As I wheeled towards Cambridge, I asked him "where to...". He was pretty high, and was sitting there trying to get it out..."ah, let me see, its a place, a bar, mumble...mumble..it has a funny name to it." At about the Mass General entrance, I piped in "Is it The Red Hat"?

    A huge smile appeared on his face, as he said "Thats It!". I wheeled the cab around the Charles St. rotary, back up Cambridge St. and dropped him off where I picked him up. "That will be $2.20 please"....

    As he got out, he turned and leaned in to the cab before closing the door, and said "Thanks Pal!"

    Boston Cab Association Driver 1980-1984 (full time)

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  5. I'm one of the best cabbies on the planet
    I swear on my fares life

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  6. Thanks for the encouragement, and to Mike Amaral for the story. You can't make this stuff up.

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  7. Loving this- keep it up!

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  8. Loving the posts. A question though, why must all you guys stop in the middle of the road to pick up or let fares out. It drives me crazy!!

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  9. We do our best to pull over to the side of the street to let traffic pass, but picking up street hails and letting people off where they want to go is what we do. Boston streets are difficult, but that's a part of city life. Compared to, say, trash trucks, we're a pretty minor irratation.

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  10. nice. how about when the readers try to get chummy, you hate that too?

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  11. Gilighan Qabista, what kind of name is that?

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