Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sometimes the last fare of the night is the most memorable. Maybe because it was the best trip of the night, going to Portland, Eugene or Waldport for anywhere from one to three hundred dollars. Then again, maybe it was because it was the worst trip in the night, resulting in not getting paid, or some kind of a hostile encounter, including the police. Monday night when I worked my usual four to four shift, it was 3:30 AM, and I just gassed up and was getting ready to call it a night, when the dispatcher gave me a call. I was tired and didn’t want to do it, but it had been a slow night, and when you work on straight commission, it’s hard to pass up another buck.
“Number twenty-five, get the AM/PM on Auburn and Lancaster, for Polly,” Dotty, the dispatcher said.
When I arrived, there was a young blond woman, in a heavy coat sitting on the sidewalk, on the side of the building, who looked to be in her late twenties. When I pulled into a parking space she got up and opened the passenger door of my cab.
“Are you here for Polly?” She asked.
“Yes,” I told her.
She got in with a large purse and told me that she wanted to go to the AM/PM on Lansing and Market. She looked like she was either a stripper, hooker or both. As I started driving she held up a newspaper that she told me was making public all the recent criminal arrests in Salem, with a listing of the perpetrators crimes, along with their photos. Then she started laughing, as she told me that her boyfriend was included, and she showed me his picture. Then she proceeded to read the reason for his arrest. He led the police on a high speed chase, on Cordon Road, Sunnyview and Lancaster, until he crashed into the Roadhouse Grill and fled on foot, until he was apprehended, and charged with multiple offences, including violating parole and being in possession of a controlled substance.
I told her that her story reminded me of the time that I picked up a guy at “Shooters Bar”, who got in the cab with a newspaper, and forgot something in the bar. While he retrieved whatever it was, I read the front page of the Statesman Journal. It was about a young man who was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for being an accessory to a gang/drug execution of his childhood friend, whose dismembered body was subsequently fed to pigs on a farm in Woodburn. When my passenger returned he asked me what I was reading, and when I told him, he said that the convicted man was his brother, who was innocent, and a lawyer was working on his appeal, at that time.
She started to laugh, and told me that the brothers that I was talking about were also friends of hers. By this time I arrived at the destination and pulled into an empty parking space. Polly opened her purse and pulled out a wallet, and she began looking in it.
“Where is it?” She rhetorically asked. “I know that I had my money in here before you picked me up. Maybe it fell out of my pocket. No, it has to be in here.”
She was frantically searching the interior of her purse, as I thought to myself – “Here is the classic, I lost my money scam, that somebody plays on me at least once or twice every year.”
The last time was about six months ago, when I picked up a guy on Ichabod Street, and drove him to the US Market next to Walgreens on Sunnyview and Lancaster, for five dollars. I gave him a receipt and he never did come to the office or mail it in like he said that he would to pay his debt. Her fare was six-ninety, and she wanted to go back to her pick up point to look for her money. That didn’t make sense, since it would cost more money, and then what if she didn’t find it, plus I didn’t believe her anyway.
Since I wasn’t going to drive back, she wanted to know what to do? I told her to give me her ID and I would write down the information, give her a receipt and then she could pay it later. She said that she lost her ID, and didn’t have any, so I told her that I would have to file a police report, to which she got upset and told me that next time she would not call Yellow cab, but another company. She indignantly got out of the cab, leaving her purse inside telling me that she knew the people at this Arco, so she would get the money from them. I waited for about five minutes, until she returned with the money. She handed me eight dollars and I returned one single dollar to her and kept the dime, for a tip.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Bill Smith had been driving a cab for over 12 years, when he moved to Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast, in 2006. He decided that the daily 50 mile one way commute to Salem, to drive taxi for a 12 hour shift was getting to be too much, so he turned in his 2 week notice. Bill had procured employment as a CNA, at a convalescent home in the coastal town, so he was in his final week at Yellow cab in November 2006.
Then one average night, the dispatcher gave driver number 26 an average call. When he arrived at the address, it was an apartment house. An oriental gentleman answered the door and said that he would be right out, as he picked up a bag off the floor and followed Smith out to the cab.
“When we got out to the cab, I opened the passenger door behind the driver’s seat, to allow him to slide the bag into the cab. He thanked me for opening the door, being a very polite gentleman, and slid the bag in and proceeded to get in behind me. Normally we don’t allow people to sit behind us, however, being he was a polite gentleman so far, I wasn’t going to argue with the man and ask him to move to a different spot, so I allowed him to sit behind me. I got into the cab, and he asked to go to the ‘Peoples Church’, on Lancaster, and he was fairly well dressed, wearing a cowboy hat, and it was fairly nice sports bag, so I figured he was taking some sort of a donation to the church, and didn’t really pay any attention to it.”
“So we proceeded down Lancaster towards the church. Shortly before getting to the church he was pulling on the back of the seat. I was about to say something to him about not pulling so hard on the seat, when he stopped. So we get to the church and it’s a fairly long driveway up to the church because it’s a very large parking lot to go through. I pulled right up to the front door, into a little covered area, and did not even have a chance to put the car in park. I had just come to a stop, when all of a sudden I spotted something coming over the top of my head. My first thought was that this was some sort of joke, or maybe a trick or whatnot, as it dawned on me that the object was a knife, I was quickly putting my hands up to pull the object away. I started squeezing his hands, as I realized how serious this situation had just become. I wrestled a 12 inch blade butcher knife from him with a 4-5 inch white plastic handle.”
Bill jumped out of the cab with the knife in his hand, as his passenger opened the back door, and fell out, dragging the bag behind him, and proceeded to run into the church. After getting some of the arriving people to help him, they noticed that people were beginning to run out of the church building screaming “fire, he’s lighting everything on fire!” My cab had hit somebody’s car in the parking lot, and someone had called the police by this time. The police and fire departments arrived along with the SWAT team, that climbed to the top of the church roof checking for people.
After the investigation it was found that the oriental man who attacked driver number 26, and tried to set people and the church on fire by igniting a flammable liquid, which was probably gasoline, in a container in the sports bag, was convicted of murder in 1989. He drowned his 5 year old daughter in the bathtub, and was sentenced to the Oregon State Mental Institute for the criminally insane. After 5 years, it was determined that with medication, the defendant was docile and non hostile, so he was released. He discontinued taking his medication a few days prior to the incident.
Friday, December 25, 2009
The Monday before Christmas I got a call to Windsor Street around 10:00 PM. The dispatcher told me that I would be driving a lady named Mary, to an address off Silverton and Lancaster. When I arrived there were 2 black males in the street, in front of the address, so I stopped. The elder of the 2 walked up to my window, so I rolled it down and he urgently told me, “don’t driver her anywhere, she doesn’t have any money.”
Then the younger man chimed in, “yeah, don’t drive her, she doesn’t have any money.”
Before I could think of a response to give the passenger door opened and a middle aged black woman got in my passenger seat, next to me. She closed the door, and gave me the address she wanted to go to, looking like she was ready to burst in tears. She looked like an average middle aged woman, who was somewhat overweight.
“Do you have any money?” I asked
“Yes,” she told me, “I have a credit card.”
“A credit car?” I thought, and concluded that this would be a charity trip. I didn’t know what was going on, but I wasn’t going to tell her that I couldn’t drive her without money up front, which would be the normal thing to do in a case like this. The 2 guys in the street, looked like they were probably her husband and son, but who knows what domestic dispute was taking place, and I didn’t really want to know anyway.
“Driver number 25 picked up,” I told John, the dispatcher. and then began driving to our destination. On the way there my passenger was sobbing, so I said nothing.
When we arrived at an apartment complex the fare came to $9.10, and Mary gave me her credit card, along with her picture ID. After I ran it on my slider, and called it in, the dispatcher told me that it came back as an invalid account. I asked her if she could borrow any money from her friends to pay? She said that she would try, and went up to an apartment door, where she began to knock. After she unsuccessfully knocked on the door for a few minutes, she came to the front of the apartment and banged on the window, and began to hysterically cry.
“Please, please, answer the door,” she pleaded.
Then she began to cry, as she continued to sobbingly knock on the apartment window. I was sitting in my cab, about 20 feet away watching all this when I decided to quietly drive off. I wasn’t going to get paid, so why make her more miserable by making her feel guilty for burning me. Then again, maybe she was a scam artist who had burning cab drivers down to a science, with her act. Whatever the case was, I wasn’t going to waste any more time.
The next night around 9:00 PM, the dispatcher told me that someone asked for me by my number at 4452 Monroe. I didn’t know anyone at that address, but then it could be one of my regulars, who asked for me, visiting a friend. When I got there, and knocked on the door, a black woman opened the door and handed me an envelope.
“This is from Mary,” she said. “She wanted to thank you for helping her out the other night”.
I took the envelope, thanked her and got back in my cab. When I opened the envelope there was a Christmas card in it, with a $20.00 bill. It was signed Mary.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Some of my blog entries are painful to write, especially if they require me to explore an episode that was negative or unpleasant. This is a story about last Saturday night, when I drove my usual 4-4 night shift. Sometimes the luck of the draw gives you a bad night. Saturday night is normally a good night, since the bar crowd is out and the city buses don’t run, but not for me. I was getting all short runs, that were of the $5.00 variety, with either no tip or the change. At the same time every call that I got was on the opposite end of the city, from where I was at on my last one. Then every so often the passenger flagged down a competitor cab for a ride, just before I arrived and I saw them drive off. I was very discouraged about how the night was going, so I decided to think about my next blog article, which I decided would be about jealousy among drivers. Then around 7:00 PM I dropped off a fare in South Salem, and felt my brakes go to the floor before they grabbed, when I tried to slow down.
I thought to myself, “so now, I’m going to have to waste time taking in my cab and checking out a new one. When I got downtown and was ready to tell the dispatcher that I was coming in, she gave me a call on the east side at Shopko. I decided to chance it, since it was getting slow, and you could wait an hour for the next call in your rotation, unless you were flagged, but the pouring rain usually prevented that. When I arrived, nobody was there, but the dispatcher told me that she was coming from across the street, at 7:30 and I should wait. So I waited, until about 7:40 when a blonde woman, who looked to be in her 40’s got in my cab and told me to take her to Macy’s at Lancaster Mall. On the way there, she told me that she just got out of jail yesterday, and her daughter kept treating her like she was a child. She was a cosmetologist who put on demonstrations at Macy’s, but her daughter wouldn’t let her use her personal line of cosmetics.
By this time I realized that I should have taken my brake crippled cab in, because she was going to burn me. When we got to Macy’s she handed me a debit card, and when I asked for ID, she handed me a Washington state drivers license. As I figured the card was no good, so I took all her information with a promise that she would pay after she returned some items. I gave her my card and took my van into the yard, but all that was available were two sedans, so I took the one with the cup holder for my coffee, and was back in commission. Since the dispatcher knew that the woman owed me money, she sent me to pick her up at 10:00 PM, even though she didn’t ask for me like she was supposed to. When I got there in a different cab, she got in and told me her address, I told her that I needed $20.00 up front to cover her previous trip, plus the current one. She wanted to know why I couldn’t collect from her husband when I dropped her off?
“Because when people owe me money, I don’t drive them again, unless they pay what they already owe,” I told her.
“Then I guess I’ll be walking,” she indignantly said as she got out of the cab.
By midnight I hadn’t booked $100.00, when I should have already have been close to or hit $200.00, so I was feeling pretty low. Especially with 3 other drivers getting long out of town trips to Portland, and Lincoln City, for more than I booked in the last 8 hours. Jealousy was raising its ugly head and I looked it right in the eye, when the final straw occurred. I was sitting top down, on Amtrack, when the dispatcher, who knew that I was now in a sedan, bypassed me to give 2 other drivers a call to pick up some elderly people in a broken down bus, and drive them to Eugene, for $150.00 each. I went nuts, in the privacy of my own cab. Then I spent the next 4 hours doing crap calls for mostly $5.00, until I got off at 4:00 AM, with a lousy $167.00 booked. That was a decent Monday night, but this was Saturday, and last week I nearly hit $400.00.
I was ready to explode, when I pulled into the yard, and vacuumed my cab. I began my paperwork on the bench outside, so I wouldn’t have to talk to the other drivers inside, doing theirs. When I went inside to use the adding machine, number 37, who was one of the two drivers who got the trip to Eugene, asked me, “Did you have a good night?”
“Fuck no!” I told him.
Then I proceeded to beat the adding machine with my totals, until I screwed up the first tape and had to redo it. By the time I was done, I had vented all my hostility about having a lousy night and, number 37 said, “yeah but last week you nearly booked $400.00. You can’t do that every night.”
“Maybe not, but I want to,” I told him.
After I dropped my envelope in the chute and was driving home, I realized how far I fell into being controlled by jealousy. I was ashamed that others had seen this in me, and realized that I would have to apologize to number 37, the next day.
Bill Smith was driver #26 when I first started driving taxi. He’d been a hack himself for 10 years, at the time, but told me that it was originally just supposed to be a temporary job. It was the first job that he got after he was discharged from the Navy, where he was a corpsman for 4 years, including being attached to the Marines, during “Operation Desert Storm”.
“I landed with the first Marine expeditionary force, after Saddam invaded Kuwait,” Bill told me. “We dug in and stayed there, while all the troops from the coalition landed, then throughout the war and for the cleanup afterwards. We were the last to leave.”
During that time Bill went for weeks without getting any sleep, because of the sirens that sounded every time that Iraq shot a SCUD missile at them, which went on regularly throughout the night. The sleep deprivation led to sever disorientation and hallucinations, which eventually landed him the hospital for rest and a psychiatric evaluation prior to returning to duty. He was declared mentally and physically fit after a couple of days of sleep and got an honorable discharge, after his enlistment was finished.
I worked with Bill for nearly 4 years before he Moved to Lincoln City, and began using his military medic skills as a CNA in a convalescent home. Bill liked to talk, and when we had a slow night, I could usually find him at the downtown taxi stand in front of Greyhound. One night he told me about the time that he was involved in the Mexican Valentine’s Day Massacre, right after he first started, in the early 1990’s.
“I picked up a Mexican family of four” he told me. “The father sat up front with me, and the mom and 2 daughters sat in the back of my sedan. There had been a Mexican Dance at the Armory, and hundreds of people were milling around outside. My passengers were going to McMinnville, and I was ready to leave when a young man approached my cab. I thought that he wanted a ride, so I rolled down my window to tell him that I was already taken, but he walked right by me, to the front of my cab. I saw something in his hand, and realized that it was a gun, which he raised and started firing into the crowd. Then I heard whizzing bullets ricocheting off the parking lot pavement, and realized that someone in the crowd was firing back at the shooter in front of my cab, who reloaded his gun with another clip and was ready to start firing again. Without thinking I reflexively put the car in reverse and did a 180 degree turn at full throttle, and slingshot the cab into the street. I shut off the cab radio and we drove the 30 mile trip to McMinnville without saying a word. When we arrived, I took my passengers names, addresses and phone number, to give the police, when I got back to Salem. The newspaper said that the shooter by my cab was from a Mexican gang in Los Angeles, and he was shooting at rival gang members. The shooter by my cab was the only one killed, after he wounded 10 innocent people.”
Friday, December 18, 2009
I was working the 4-4 shift one Friday night, Saturday morning, with a thick fog covering the city instead of the usual drizzle, when, just about the time that I was getting ready to call it a night, the dispatcher gave me one last call. You have a different emotion for last calls than you do for all the other calls previous. With the others you are hoping for a long trip, and a big tip, with a last call, you are hoping for a short trip, with no trouble. You just want to do it and go home to bed. At the same time some of my best trips of the night happened at the time that I was supposed to get off. Trips that left me nodding out at the wheel, with the windows rolled down and the heater off in thirty degree weather, with the radio blaring some obnoxious infomercial about vitamins.
Tonight it was a SPD call, an acronym for Salem police department. The city issues taxi drivers what is called a police protective license, which means that all drivers were given background checks and do not have criminal records. In some instances we work in conjunction with the police, by picking up the innocent uninjured victims of a crime, accident or impounded vehicle.
The dispatcher told me to head to the ambulance entrance to the hospital’s Emergency Room and look for the police car. When I arrived there were two police officers outside of their parked squad car, with a woman, who appeared to be in her early thirties. The older and larger of the two officers was with the woman and the other officer stood about ten feet from them. When I pulled up, the officer with the woman approached my cab, so I rolled down the window.
“You’re not a serial killer, are you?” The policeman asked me.
“No officer,” I told him, “I have a police protective license issued by the city saying that I do not have a criminal record, and I am not a serial killer.”
“See?” The cop told the woman, “I told you that he would be safe to go with.
Then the officer told me that she was going to Bridgeway Rehab center, and wanted to know if I knew where it was. I told him that I drove patients to and from there, regularly, to both Salem and Silverton hospitals. He used this information to try and convince the woman to get in the cab, but she was still hesitant. The officer who was starting to grow exasperated with the woman’s tactics, told her –
“Look, you either get in the cab, or you go to jail, which is it?”
The woman came over to the cab and got in the front seat beside me. She asked if she could smoke, and I told her that it was a non smoking cab. Then I asked her if she had any money, and she said that she did, but I figured if she was a patient at Bridgeway, they might pay her fare, using their account. I took off as soon as she had her seat belt fastened, and called in my pickup. The woman was crying when she got in, and her emotional outbursts intensified as we drove.
“God help me!” She screamed over and over again as we drove. The pleading with God was alternated with sobbing and sniveling. Then she said
“I’m out of cigarettes,” she suddenly said, “I’ll need them to help me calm down, can we stop at a 7/11?” She asked.
“Sure,” I said, “there’s one on 17th and Market. I’ll stop there.” I said.
I told her to give me $5.00 and I’d go inside and get the cigarettes for her. She might cause a scene and waste time without getting the cigarettes, I figured. After I got the cigarettes and started driving again, she began her hysterics again. I had the radio on and concentrated on the song to help me ignore my passenger’s distractions.”
“Shout, shout, let it all out….the radio droned as I turned South onto Harold Street off Silverton Road. When I pulled into the parking lot, my passenger sat erect and became quite. Then as soon as I stopped she exploded out of the door and began running towards the rehab center entrance. The door is always locked, so I knew that she couldn’t get in, and the way that she ran reminded me of someone who was trying to get away without paying the fare.
She slammed herself against the translucent glass door, and began banging it with here fists, as she shouted let me in! Let me in! After about 30 seconds both door opened and two rehab center personnel poked their heads outside.
“Let me in!” She shouted.
“We’re full,” the large male nurse with a beard said.
“God, please let me in,” the woman pleaded, “I already had one heart attack, if you don’t let me in I’ll have another.”
I realized at this point that Bridgeway wouldn’t pay for her ride since she might not be admitted. It was already 4:15 AM and I wanted to go home, so I went up to my passenger and told her that the meter read $14.00 and I needed to go. I told her to give me $20.00, which I saw when she paid me for the cigarettes, and I would give her the change. She handed me a Jackson and I gave her six back, and left the scene without finding out if she got in, but then my departure may have helped out her chances.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I feel like a number
Was a Bob Seeger song,
That being identified
As a number
Was somehow, wrong.
Taxi drivers are
I’m number 25.
Because that’s the perfect number
It doesn’t always
Result in good.
And the angels
In the book
So I chose
Who used to be
If I heard
I told him.
“He’s in the hospital.”
Number 43 said.
Got a card
And number 12
Who used to be number 7
Will bring it to him
“you can sign it?”
Number 43 was worried
That drivers would hold it against number 49
Since he was A-cab’s top man.
Was Yellow cab’s competition
When I came on board
They had a reputation
The cab company
Of their sedans.
They were the
Billboards on wheels
That you see
In “Times Square”
With a Las Vegas
Taxi driver’s reputation
Driver number 9 said.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
There were a lot of Christmas parties going on, since it was that time of the year, being the Middle of December. However, on a Monday, you really don’t expect people to party, but these were college students who finished their finals at the prestigious top rated college, Willamette University. Finals were still going on, except for this bunch, who were celebrating.
I got my call at around Midnight, along with two other drivers, who were right behind me. My passengers were already at the gate of the apartment complex when I pulled in, so they got in the back seat of my van.
“Where to?” I asked them.
“5093 N.E. 7th” the female told me.
“I know exactly where that is,” I told her. It was in Keizer, North of Chemawa Road. I had a disabled passenger who lived right down the street that I drove to the bar and on beer runs to get drunk so he could forget about his back pain. As we started driving I heard gagging sounds that alerted me to the possibility of my passenger vomiting in my cab.
“Let me know if you are going to be sick,” I told my passengers, “because it is a $40.00 cleaning fee, if you get sick in the cab.”
They both assured me that nobody would get sick, as the male continued to burp and emit gastric sounds. I told the guy to get up front where there was roll down window to puke out of, but he demurred and obstinately sat in the back seat, in a drunken stupor. The female said that they were cousins and she was visiting, since her finals in Washington were over. The male was a law student that I drove before.
I got a free large soda pop at Taco Bell a couple of hours earlier, when I ate lunch, so the cup was still in the holder, with ice. I rolled down my window and threw out the ice, and handed the cup to the woman. “Use this to puke in,” I told her.
She immediately gave the cup to her cousin, who began filling it with his vomit. I periodically glanced in my rear view mirror, to make sure that my passenger didn’t overflow the cup. By the time that we got to their address the cup looked like it was brimming, so I put the taxi in park and burst out my door, to open the vans side door. As soon as I slid the door open, my passengers head flew out, vomiting half digested pepperoni pizza. He narrowly missed me, and covered the driveway with his regurgitation. Then he staggered into his house, as the female handed me a $20.00 bill and said that she had to go into the house to get the rest of the $22.40, plus a tip. She came out with $8.00 and I told her thanks, as I cleaned up the few droplets that my sick passenger dribbled on the floor, with my left over napkin from Taco Bell.
I called in and cleared my fare, so I’d be available for another call, but in the Keizer zone after midnight it was iffy, so I was heading downtown, straightaway. As I was waiting for the light at Dearborn and River, I saw a man walking diagonally across the street towards me, so I rolled down my window.
“Do you need a ride?” I asked.
“Could you do me a favor? He asked and continued “I just walked from Baxter and Commercial and my feet are killing me. I need to go to Windsor Island Road.”
“Do you have any money?” I asked.
“No,” he answered, “but I sure would appreciate it if you did.
Sometimes you had to give something away, so I decided to give him a free ride. On the way he told me that he was wearing a new pair of boots that he just bought yesterday, so his feet were really killing him. After I dropped him off, I called down on Amtrack, where I sat for an hour until my next call.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
All we have to offer people, that is different from our competitors, is our service. I’ll explain my side of the story about the lady that I picked up at 458 NE Winter, on Saturday, but first, I want to offer to apologize to the customer and return the $6.00 that she paid for the ride out of my own pocket.
When I picked my fare up on Saturday night, after I wrote down her destination at 983 SE Liberty, I asked her if she had a preferred way. She responded by telling me that she lived off the corner of Owens, on Liberty and I should start heading South down Winter. I then added and right on Court, left on High to Ferry and Commercial? She seemed irritated that I explained too much, and said something like yeah fine, let’s go.
To lighten the atmosphere I asked her if she saw any good movies lately, and she told me about a vampire movie that she saw that she didn’t think that she’d like, but did. Then she started to excitedly tell me about it. When I turned on Court, I thought, why should I take High to Ferry and then Commercial, since I could turn left on Commercial, which I did. When we passed State street, my passenger suddenly stopped telling me about the vampire movie and said. “Why are you taking Commercial instead of High? This is going to cost me more, we went three blocks out of the way.” She grew very irritated, and I was going to tell her that Owens didn’t go through to High, and we would have to go just as far out of the way to get to the first street south of it, but I felt that if I tried to defend my actions, it could be construed as arguing, so I kept silent. The way that she was acting made me think that she was trying to get a free ride.
When we approached Owens, my passenger said “this is going to cost me more that it does to go to my brothers on Fairgrounds road. At this point the meter was $6.50 so I decided to give her a discount and only charge her $6.00. She had me pull over on Owens just short of Liberty and continued to complain about the extra cost, as the meter turned $6.60. When she stopped talking I said “well mam, I don’t care about the extra money, just give me $6.00. She replied that she was going to call the cab company and complain. Suddenly I realized that she probably thought that I meant that I didn’t care if she had to pay extra or not, and may not have even realized that I gave her a discount and was referring to that. Rather than putting my foot in my mouth any more, I said “Goodnight mam, and drove off.”
I thought of telling the dispatcher what happened, but decided to wait and see. I apologize for not diffusing the problem like I usually do. I should have asked her what she thought the fare should be and only charging her that amount, which is what I usually do, in a case like this, but I am willing to do whatever is required to make this right.
As a cab driver you chauffer a plethora of people over a period of years.
People of every profession, disposition and pecking order position.
Middle class people.
High flying people.
Cold Turkey people.
Brain damaged people.
Law abiding people.
God hating people
God fearing people.
God loving people.
In the beginning I started this blog to document the story that is unfolding in my taxi cab, as I drive it three nights a week. I’ve been a hack for six years, and a freelance music and religion journalist of some kind for the past fifteen. I work as a freelance writer the other four days, and am nearly finished with my first complete book, “Jesus Rocks The Church” or “Discovering Contemporary Christian Music”, for Greenwood. Rather than just recording my taxi cab stories in my journal I decided to make them public.
I chose “The Transcendent Taxicab” as the title back in the summer of 2004, when I first started driving a cab. The reason that I did so was because I thought that maybe I could write a book, since I was a writer, about driving a taxi from my perspective on life. Having always been interested in religion, I became an ordained minister during the 1970’s, and studied theology and everything related to it, and tested my findings by using my life. So why not record the events that occur in this new context? I saw my job as a spiritual adventure, using the gospel of Matthew, chapter 22, where Jesus tells the parable of “The Wedding Feast”. In it the king tells his servants to go out into the highways and byways and gather up both good and evil to fill the prepared hall of the wedding feast, which is an analogy for God’s kingdom.
I did have a taxicab blog in 2008 on www.wittenburgdoor.com for the now defunct religious satire magazine that I was a contributing editor and staff photographer for since 1998. However, they were tightly edited stories based on my taxi cab experiences. This blog will be raw information of what happens, as I interpret it through my spiritual perspective.
I often equate driving a taxi to gambling on a slot machine. You never know what is going to come up. You may hit the jackpot or you may go bust. You may pick up a $100.00 fare with a $20.00 tip, or you may pick up someone who runs out of the cab without paying you. Over the past six years two of my fellow taxi cab drivers have died of heart attacks in their cabs, another was shot in the head, but survived, along with another who didn’t.
The city that I drive a taxicab in, is Salem, Oregon, the same one that “One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest” was filmed in. It’s the state capitol, has half a dozen prisons and the state mental institution for the criminally insane. At the same time it’s located in the center of the Willamette Valley between the Pacific coast range and the Cascade Mountains. I drive for Salem/Keizer Yellow Cab, and will make entry’s on this blog as I am inspired to do so, and my driver number is “25”.