Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sickly Cab Driving Wednesday Night

I wasn't feeling well. Under the weather, literally and figuratively. It was like my allergies and an actual cold collided and colluded to create a massive sinus invasion of cosmic proportion. Think I'm exaggerating? Well, maybe a little, but I was sneezing and coughing and generally miserable on Tuesday and even though Brooke and I wanted to attend a Scrabble club meeting night thing, we opted to stay home and recuperate instead.

Wednesday, whether I wanted to or not, I was back in the saddle, ready to work.

Red Cab #89 shows up a little past 3pm. I immediately discover that now the horn doesn't work and that a driver of this cab between Monday night and now had decoded to scribble "89" on the steering wheel in ball point pen AND scribble some random note on the center armrest console thing. Other cab drivers I encounter just tend to be disrespectful slobs. Not all, but the ones who drive my regular cab especially.

I immediately got a job around the corner going to the Great Brook Valley Health Clinic on Tacoma. En route, I got a job AT GBV Health Clinic going clear across town on a charge.

As the clock approached 4, I headed to Abbott Research to see if I could get Denise going to Union Station on a charge. I sat in front of Abbott for about 10-15 minutes and when the job went out, I guess I wasn't heard. Cab #10 said he was AT "Plantation & Research" which he wasn't because I waited for him to arrive. I tried calling the dispatcher to let him know I was sitting at 100 Research, but he's not the type who likes to go back on what he's already assigned. Sets a bad precedent even if I really was sitting at the address, which I was. I say "hi" to Cab #10 when he shows up. I try to bid (unsuccessfully) on another nearby job and then I tell #10 as I leave that I'm "writing him up". He replies with a lovely comment about me being a "m-f" in his cab driver opinion. Liars abound... everywhere...

The rest of the afternoon is fairly typical & predictable. Jail guys going to & from the jail. I got several groups of students at both the Bus & Train at Union Station. The college students are returning from their holiday break.

Then I was sent to the OLD T-Station, around the corner from Unon Station, behind Pat's Towing to pick some guy up. Well, I went, looked around, circled twice, asked at Pat's... nothing. Headed back to the line of cabs outside the Train. Then, I figured I'd go check at the old T one more time... Success! I found him, but he was really drunk, still carrying a can of beer and loud as all hell. But he was a customer and he was going clear across town to the Knights of Columbus off Columbus Park, Minthorne St., etc. Very loud, very drunk, proceeding to get more drunk with his KofC buddies, but he did ask me at least a couple times if I thought he was doing the right thing by calling for a cab instead of driving his own car to the party. Of course I applauded him for his choice of calling a taxi instead of drunk driving. And then I realized that I'd had this guy as a customer before, leaving FROM the KofC (the first time I'd ever found this hidden away meeting spot off of Coes Pond) going TO Wildwood. Drunk then, drunk now, but a paying customer and NOT drinking & driving.

Got two guys at Rite Aid on Chandler near June going to Club Universe. Two dialysis patients returning home on charges. My regular going to Kelly Square. My regular going from home to the old Norton Company. Then things got weird...

I'm second in line at the Train at Union Station. These three guys bound on IN to the station and minutes later come back out, realizing that they can't get to the bus station because it's locked up. I guess they could have gone around to the other side and waited for the bus they wanted and bought tickets on the bus, but they weren't thinking clearly. They had to get somewhere and fast. One of them came over to my cab, asked how much going to Hartford, CT would be. Dispatcher tells me $200. I said I'd do the job for $150. They get in the cab and we head to pick up prescriptions at Walgreens and then head to Hartford, CT.

Three dudes who left Community Health Link's lovely detox center at 68 Jacques Ave. heading to Hartford, CT to score more dope and lay low in a hotel for the night and then get a bus back to Worcester the next morning. The ride down was fairly uneventful. We talked. I learned quite a bit about the life of an addict. I learned that Worcester isn't good for buying dope, but great for scoring crack. Things I really never wanted / needed to know, but... The guy in the front seat is about 5 years younger than me, is the guy with the good paying bricklayers union job with cash in hand, financing this little "adventure". He doesn't know these other guys at all, but once he realized that his stuff was slowly being "stolen" at 68 Jacques (he says he brought a Blackberry phone with him to 68 Jacques and when he tried to retrieve it, the staff said he never had one in the first place - cigarettes were being stolen from him and he was concerned about the $1,100 paycheck in cash that his friend had brought him) he had to get out of there.

Guy sitting behind me was the one who had connections in Hartford to buy dope and he knew the lay of the city, sort of. Guy sitting in back of front seat passenger was just along for the ride. All three were in the early stages of being "dope sick" and were very eager to hole up with a bag of dope and blissfully fuck themselves up until the next morning to return back to Worcester.

I felt sad for these guys, that their lives had whittled down to hanging on a substance and living at the very extreme margins of society. But I was wary of them as well. Anything COULD happen, but I kept my cool, talked with them, got them where they had to go... Unfortunately, once in Hartford, our first stop was to get the dope. Drug deals are almost always a disorganized, laidback waste of time unprofessional act of desperation. This one was no exception. We sat on Madison Street, off of Broad Street, waiting for some "friend" of guy sitting behind me to show up with the stuff. It's pathetic, it's cold and I was getting sick of hanging out with these bozos. Deal goes down, I reposition the cab to get a better view of the driveway that guy sitting behind me ran down to meet up with his associates. I turn the cab around, guy returns and we head to a hotel. Holiday Inn turns them down and reccomends the Crowne Plaza. We find the Plaza, I leave them there and high tail it on back to Worcester.

Snow was falling as I flew up I-84. I stop at the Traveller's Aid gas station at Ruby Road. It's actually really beautiful and quiet out at a little past midnight in the middle of nowhere in CT.

As much as these guys were sad & pathetic, they made my night financially. Cab driving is not supposed to be about profiting on other's misfortune. It's supposed to be about helping people and providing a service. I don't dick people around taking them the long way just to make extra money. I cut these guys a deal, did the job, was straight with them and then got the hell out of there. They're big boys and can either get into more problems on their own, perhaps overdose in the hotel or maybe come back to Worcester and clean up their acts and live better lives. But I'm just the guy driving them around for a price.

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