Saturday, July 10, 2010

Quitting Time

We were both parked outside the same apartment building, waiting for our fares. It was warm, with a pleasant breeze, so we both got out and started chatting. He was a little older than me, heavier set with a bit of a stoop. He had warm eyes behind his half-glasses and an easy smile.

"You like driving for them?" he asked.

It's okay, I guess. How 'bout yourself?

He shrugged.

"How long you been driving?" he asked.

Couple years. You?

"Since 1993."

Wow.

"Yes, that's a long time."

Where'd you come from?

"Brazil. I used to be a school teacher. In Recife. Beautiful city. Beautiful beaches. I loved my work, my life. But one day I lost my job. They closed the school. I kept waiting to get a new assignment, but after six months I needed the money, so my brother living here bought me a plane ticket. When I got here, I got a job driving. I figured nine months, a year, then home. But here I am."

You ever go back?

"A couple of times. But I always come back, driving a cab. Next year I'll be sixty-two. Next year, for sure. I quit. Get out of the fucking business. Time to go home. Back to Brazil."

He then looks at me over his half-glasses.

"Three years? You have another year, maybe two," he said.

Whatdyamean?

"Then you have to quit."

Huh?

"You quit or drive the rest of your life. I've seen it all the time. Guys start driving, telling themselves they'll just do it for a bit. But after four years they're stuck. They're in for life. Like me."

C'mon...

He tilted his head down, looked at me over his half-glasses and pointed at my gut. "This job, it's not healthy. Look at yourself. When was the last time you had long walk?"

I didn't need to look at myself. Instead, I made some lame joke.

He smiled but didn't say anything. Instead, we stood there, letting the breeze cool us. The bell from a distant Green Line trolley reverberated in the night air.

"Well," he said. "it doesn't look like my fare is going to make it. Another no-go." He then got into the cab. "Nice talking to you."

He waved as he pulled away, leaving me standing alone in the driveway. The trolley bell rang again. I looked down at my bare arms, which under the sodium lamp of the building's exterior lights took on a bluish palor.

Maybe next year.

4 comments:

  1. Well I hope we are not trains stuck in our grove.
    But it can be true that we leave change until it is too late. It would be sad to think that Yahoudi Menuin might never have tried to play the violin. or perhaps Paul Ghogan if he had not tried painting.
    We are free spirits try something !

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  2. Espero que ele volte ao Brasil. Estamos precisando de bons taxistas por aqui.
    Abra├žos!!

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  3. I've read all of your posts. Enjoyed them. I hope you continue on. Take care. -Darren

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  4. Looking at your blog, looks like you did it. Best of luck!

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