Last night, I decided to work late on my "should have launched but we're just not quite there" project. My boss, whom I am staying with to save the client some money, had left around 6:30 PM, earlier in the evening, telling me she would be back after a meeting she needed to attend, would I call when I needed to be picked up, don't call before 9:30.
I had decided to stay and work, because I had an index card check list of about forty items, some big, some small, some trivial, some monstrous, all needing to be done now
. My boss' house doesn't have any fast or easily connected Internet connection, so staying at the office seemed like an easy choice.
I continued to work until around ten, when I figured I better call before my boss was too tired to pick me up.
Well, I miscalculated.
By the time I called, my boss was too tired, could I take a taxi home?
Images of the taxi cab driver from Seattle when we went to Potlatch started running through my mind. The one where the cabbie walked up to Kris, grabbed his bag, and exclaimed in the thickest Arabic accent, "What are you doing? You are just standing there!" Since he had grabbed Kris' bag and thrown it in his trunk, we hopped into his car for our ride to Bainbridge Island.
So, taxi ride it was last night.
After 35 minutes of hemming and hawing, calling Kris to complain of the scandalous imminent taxi ride-can-you-believe-it, talking to a coworker about the local taxis - did he have a number I could call, inquiring with the nearest hotel I know of about room availability (none), looking around for a good place in the office to just sleep the night, and another 10 minutes of IMing with Paul
about this taxi-predicament, I finally worked up the courage to head out, and find me a taxi.
Unbeknownst to me, you can now pay for taxi ride with credit cards. Last night, however, I was cashless and (I thought) in need of cash, so I went across the street to the local marketplace, the one thronging with late night socializers (there were at least 20 people hanging out at the grocery strore - of all places!). I managed to hit the wrong ATM buttons, but still get cash out, which did little to encourage me for the night.
On my way out the door, a cute blonde held the door me, and smiled as I said thanks. There may be a lot of these socializers, but at least they're friendly.
Yay cellphones, I thought, as I dialed for the cab and walked down the street to the nearest big intersection. I thought an intersection would be an ideal place to pick up a passenger, but, as with most things this evening, I was wrong.
Taxis nowadays have GPS units, as well as direction generators, so street addresses are preferred. After figuring out the correct destination address, which actually took me more rummaging in my cell phone than I would have expected, the operator asked, "Cash or credit card?"
"Cash or credit card?"
"Uh, I can pay by credit card?"
"Oh. Cash, please."
"OK. Are you ready to go now?"
"I will be shortly. I'm about two doors away," I exaggerated.
"Your cab will be there shortly."
"Great! Thanks!" I repled, as I hung up and started walking the block and a half (as in 12 doors away) back to the office address I had given.
I had made it all of 4 doors down when a yellow cab shot by me on the street. Whoops. I started running towards it. Right by all those evening socializers in front of the local grocery store, who started laughing as I ran by (though, of course, not at
The cab went flying by the office and kept right on going up the street.
At some point, the driver must have seen the crazy lady running down the street after his cab, as he stopped and turned the car around.
As I ran up to the car, I asked if I could sit in the front seat - the back seat seems so much like a chauffering that I cringed at the thought. I was already uncomfortable about taking the taxi ride in the first place, so I wanted to be in the front where I perceived I would have more control over the situation. "Sure!"
I walked around the car, hopped in the front seat, and turned to look at the driver.
To be startled by the blonde haired (I have no idea the color of his eyes, it was 11 o'clock at night), slender, young, cute driver looking back at me. He looked all of maybe 25, and that is being generous.
He was very personable. We started talking about all sorts of things, starting with his question, "Is that out [that highway] to [this street]?"
"Yes. Have you become a walking map book with all this driving?"
"Yeah. I thought I knew [the town] before I started driving a taxi, but now I know all the little streets, too."
We talked about how I had never seen so many cops out before (5 police cars in a little over a mile as measured by the meter), which led to a discussion about the local college. No, he didn't go to college there. Yes, the college kids were coming back soon (a week or two).
We talked about how he was the first non-minority taxi driver I had ever ridden with, to which he replied, "And probably the youngest, too."
Did I mention the cutest? No? Well, that's really not saying much.
We talked about types of cab drivers, how most of them are ethnic minorities, though he did say he knew of one woman driver, who he had met during training.
We talked about cabbie training, which amounts mostly to learning about the in-cab computer and a few lessons about defensive driving. He said "defensive driving" with such derision, I couldn't tell if he thought the lessons were crap, or the whole concept of taxis driving defensively disdainful.
I noticed at the beginning of the ride, he drove like a crazy taxi driver. He cut off a car or two, ignored the pedestrians wanting to enter the crosswalk, looked at me more than the road, and drove way over the speed limit. As the ride progressed, however, his driving tamed and he started driving sanely, almost old man like, to the point where he apologized for the bumpy car ride over a bad part of the road.
I commented, "I know there is a legal limit to the number of people you can take in a car. " He smiled, and said, "Yeah, the legal limit is I think 5, four in the back and one in the front." He smiled.
"And you've had?"
"And how drunk were they?"
Somehow we managed to arrive on the topic of people stiffing him, and not paying, runners as he called them.
He had one, though, "he wasn't too smart." Turns out, the runner had called from his girlfriend's phone (you know, completely traceable), which was logged into the taxi company's records. When the cab slowed down, but hadn't stopped, the passenger jumped from the car and ran. My taxi driver chased him to see about where he lived, then called the girlfriend to browbeat the runner's phone number from her. With the guy's number, the driver went to the police, and somehow managed to get the guy's address. Eventually, the parents paid his taxi fare.
At one point I managed to kill the conversation by asking if he or his customers caused the awful smokers stench in the car. "A little bit of both, I think." A lotta bit of both, I thought.
We talked about my job briefly, and that I didn't actually live in the area.
We talked about his driving shift (7:30 to late), and how he sleeps during the day, and how was he doing in the heats, and how did he keep the sunlight out during the day (three towels over the bedroom window).
I tried very hard to keep the conversation about him. I was never quite comfortable taking a taxi home, a concept probably foreign to most men, and certainly all New Yorkers. Most women would probably know where I'm coming from though.
At the end of the ride, I commented, "This has been the best taxi ride I'd ever had." He must have thought I was the best fare he'd ever had.
He gave me his phone number.