Friday, November 20, 2009

Show business

I was stopped at a light. It was late. The bars had all let out, and the only work left was catching the few stragglers and drunks left on the streets. I was debating with myself about whether to call it quits or cruise around for a final circuit when they stumbled in front of the cab, appearing seemingly from nowhere, a young man and woman, clinging to each other, flushed and laughing.

I waved for them to get in and the two made their way to the side of the cab. The guy flung the door open and threw the girl onto the back seat, her head hitting the opposite door with a loud thwunk! She groaned a little and giggled. He got in and gave me an address in the South End around Northeastern University. I punched the meter and pulled out.

"Can you put on some music?" the guy shouted, as if he was still in the bar he had just left.

Yeah, sure, I answered, tuning the radio to one of the city's alternative stations. The Clash's "London Calling" filled the cab.

"This song ab-so-lute-ly rocks!" slurred the girl. "Thanks mister."

I pretended not to hear. I was tired, and didn't feel like trying to socialize with a couple of stupid drunks. It didn't matter anyway. The two in the back were onto other things, and seemed to be cooing to each other.

Flock of Seagulls, a band I always hated, was about midway through their hit song "I ran," when suddenly there was stirring in the back seat.

"Hey!" the girl shouted. "That fucking hurt!"

"Ah, c'mon," the guy said.

"No," she continued. "That really hurt."

"Look, I was just trying to have a little fun," he countered.

"Get your fucking hands off me."

"Hey, what's the big deal?"

"You're a goddamned pig, you know that?" she screamed.

"What the hell do you know?," he shouted back.

"A lot more than you think, you pig. Maybe you're wife would like to know just what a sleazy fucking pig you are. Maybe I should call her up right now!"

This has now turned in a direction that I really don't like. I'm asking myself should I intervene? And if so, what can I do?

"You're nuts, you know that?" he said. He then leaned forward toward me. "Buddy, is it just me or is she completely out of her mind?"

Leave me outta this, I tell him, wishing now I had driven right past them and quit for the night.

"Yeah, pig, leave him out of it. Besides, I'm sure he knows all about being a sleazy fucking pig!"

What the...? I'm about tell her to shut up, too, but I stop myself. There's some rustling in the back.

"Hey!" he said. "Give that back!"

I could hear the tones of a cellphone being dialed.

"I'm calling her up right now," she said. "I'm gonna tell her all about her fucking pig of a husband."

"Goddammit" he said, reaching across the seat to grab the phone back.

I could feel the phone fly past my ear. It hit the front windshield with a heavy smack!

That's it. I pulled the car over. I picked up the cellphone, which landed on the seat beside me. I turned around. I held the phone in front of the guy, and was about to tell them both that they either shut up or the next stop was going to be the police station when the girl grabbed the phone, opened the door and bolted from the car.

"Crazy bitch," he said, as she crossed the street and disappears around a corner. "Look, I gotta get her. Wait here and we'll be right back, honest." Sure, I said, shaking my head. He took off, and I'm left cursing myself for not getting him to leave something behind. Sure enough, three, five, then seven minutes passes and there's no sign of them. They're gone.

I noticed then that I'm within a block of the address they gave me, and it occured to me that I've been played. This was a set-up from the beginning. All the screaming and the drama was a ploy to beat the fare, an elaborate charade to fool some dumb cabbie. And I fell for it. Probably next night they'll come up with a different routine, maybe where one of them pretends to get sick, or needs to run into a store for cigarettes. Who knows?

The $7 fare I have to eat. I should have quit when I had the chance.


  1. Some people are really sleazy. They'll get theirs for sure. Be safe.

  2. I think cab drivers around the world have similar stories, be safe.

  3. I've found "requests" by passengers, such as 'play the radio,' etc., can sometimes be tests as to how tolerant or gullable a driver may be. The more compliant; the further they go. When they catch the drift you could really give one flying fuck, the less show business you have to endure.

  4. A very good point. I tend to be too trusting of people, thus more vulnerable. A lesson learned: be safe.

  5. Every cab driver has to pay his dues, just surprises you when you get caught.
    Still put it all down to experience, its like paying taxes, the more you get caught the more careful you become.
    Is my old rooftop taxi sign hanging up in the Crossroads bar on Beacon St? 2473..
    Can you imagine the taxi numbers in one city going from 2500 to around 16,000 ?
    Keep up the goood work.

  6. About ten years ago, a friend and I shot the breeze while waiting in the cab pool at Logan. He offered a litany of abusive moments he'd recieved from passengers. I recognized each from my own experiences, but offered an equally lengthy list of flaws to be found in drivers. He nodded and shrugged, and we went back to our coffee and smokes silently, until he piped up, "I guess the one thing passengers and drivers have in common is the contempt each has for the other." We laughed at the bleak truth of it all.
    But while it's often true, it's not always so. It seems like a fine line to remain open enough to enjoy the humanity and good company of some, and be so ourselves, while not leaving ourselves open to being played. I doubt anyone has it completely perfected. I'll be at it again this weekend in just a few hours. If you see 1764, give me a shout.

  7. We used to have a driver whose nickname was All Balls, a play on his last name. His wife still drives, and I'm told he does once in a while, though I haven't seen him.

    He used to carry a luger in his little bag 'materials'. One night he picks up a couple at the Crown Plaza going where ever and they immediately start fighting in the back seat. Black couple. So he tells them to knock it off, it's hard to drive with a fist fight going in the back seat, know what I mean?

    Their response was to jointly reach over the seat and start trying to drag him over the seat so they could pound the crap out of him together. He claims that he was blacking out, so he pulled the gun out of the bag as a last resort and held it up. Yet another fool with a weapon he wasn't prepared to use, idiot! So they let him go, but they refused to get out of the cab, so he had to call the cops to get them out of the cab. When the cops got there, they of course started screaming that the driver had a gun, and guess who went to jail that night.

    Turns out there was a restraining order that prohibited them from being in contact with each other, they were getting a divorce, it was a domestic restraining order.

    There are many morals to this story. The driver lost the gun, lost his permit for a year, got convicted of CCW, became a dispatcher, BUT signed up for an electrician apprentice program and is now a skilled tradesman. The couple did not pass go, did not go to jail, and did not have to pay for their short ride.

    I will also be out there on New Years Eve, starting at 6:00 pm EST for 12 hours of fun and adventure.