Monday, May 31, 2010
Memorial Day Weekend was busier than I expected it to be, with everyone leaving town for camping trips or the coast. It rained on Friday and was partly cloudy on Saturday, so maybe it impeded the exodus. Friday night about Midnight, I picked up a drunk woman at Westside Station, who’s fare came to a little over $7.00, when I got her home. After fishing in her purse for what seemed like an eternity, she finally pulled out 2 - $1.00 bills and a $5.00. She had a panicked expression on her face as she told me “I don’t know what happened to the rest of it, my brother had my purse for a while, and he just got out of prison.”
“Why are you telling me this?” I asked her, as she handed me the cash. She didn’t say anything, but when I counted it I saw that the $5.00 was torn in half, and I only had the left half. “Where’s the rest of it?” I asked. She broke down and began to cry, so I told her that it was alright, and not to worry about it. On Saturday night I came downtown, and parked at Greyhound, there were already 2 other cabs in the first two taxi stalls, with the drivers standing outside talking.
When I walked over I could see that it was #44, and #52. Number 44 looked up, when I approached them and said, “I was just telling #52 that in this business the customer is always right, even if they’re dead wrong and you can prove it. If you don’t follow that rule you won’t get a tip, and they might even call and complain about you being rude and obnoxious.
Number 52 was listening, while he was thinking about the meeting that he just had with the other 11 NUC agents on Earth. Enough data had been collected to determine the status of Earth. It qualified to be allowed entrance into phase 2, rather than annihilation. Phase 2 could occur normally, in the evolution of a planet, or it could be prompted by an outside force, which is what NUC agents were. In this case the beginning of phase 2 would occur after human minds were completed, by making the ultimate connection within the synapses, initiating perfection, also known as teleo.
I told them about the woman with half a $5.00 bill on Friday night, and #44 told us about a load of drunks that he picked up at the “Lone Oak,” who went across the street to the parking lot at the Fairground, where they were staying in a trailer, for a whopping $3.70, after the drunkest guy started complaining about how fast the meter was clicking. This prompted me to tell them about the guy that I picked up at the park and ride, who just got in town after a cross country tour, that he spent a couple of thousand dollars on. He had 3 heavy suitcases, that I loaded and unloaded in the van. Then when we got to his apartment, just down the street for $4.90, he demanded that I give him his dime change. Number 52 said that he drove Ronnie to church, where he was attending a healing service, and hoped to finally become normal.
“Good luck,” #44 said, “the day that he’s normal is the day that I become a millionaire.
We all got calls and I ended up in the middle of the police busting a fight up at the South Liberty Bar & Grill. My passengers wanted to get out of there as fast as possible, before the police started detaining people. They were going to 2 different addresses, but they both gave me a tip.
Number 52 picked up Ronnie, at church around 8:30 PM, after the service was over. Ronnie was despondent, since he was still crippled with cerebral palsy and confined to his wheelchair. After Trevor helped him get in the front seat of the cab, with difficulty, he collapsed his wheelchair and put it in the trunk. On the drive over, Trevor saw inside Ronnie’s mind and it became teleo.
When they arrived at Ronnie’s house, where he lived with his parents, he paid Trevor the $9.60 fare and let him keep the change from the $10.00 bill that he gave him, as he opened the door and got out. After Ronnie went into the house, Trevor took his wheelchair out of the trunk, and wheeled it up to the front door.
Suddenly Ronnie came bursting out of the front door praising God, and declaring that the faith healing evangelist said that sometimes healings took place over a period of time. He ran and jumped off the porch as he excitedly shouted, “I’m healed.” Trevor smiled as he got in his cab and drove off.
The rest of the night was wasn’t really busy, but it was steady, as I picked up people without sitting idle more than a few minutes at a time. When I got back to the office and did my paper work, I saw half a $5.00 bill tacked to the bulletin board. It was the right half of the left half that I got earlier in the night. When I asked Dotty where it came from, she told me that #37 put it up there after one of his passengers gave it to him. I took it off the board, and taped it with my half and put $2.50 in an envelope that I gave to Dotty with #37’s number on it.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Something is going down. Lines are being drawn and another taxi cab company hit the streets of Salem this week. Amanda’s Taxi was started by a disgruntled DC Cab employee. Right now there are 5 taxi cab companies in Salem, including Yellow Cab, which also has Checker Cab. Affordable Cab came on the scene after A-Cab went under, back in 2007, which includes Santiam Taxi, Keizer Cab and Economico Taxi to name some. Then DC Cab started up in 2008, and A-2 Cab came around in 2009, now Amanda’s Taxi manifests itself in 2010.
At the same time rumors abound that Affordable Cab is ready to file bankruptcy, but then they were going on for A-Cab, from the time that I began in 2004, until 2007 when it finally happened. It’s tough to begin a new taxi cab business in Salem, since Yellow Cab has contracts with all the major businesses, from Salem Hospital, and the pharmaceutical companies, to car dealerships and Willamette University.
Even though Yellow Cab is the biggest, most reputable and successful with a 60 year track record in Salem, we still use antiquated equipment, like the CB radio that drivers communicate with the dispatcher on, as well as over the radio credit card transactions that take forever. That was all on my mind, as I started my shift on Saturday, after a relatively uneventful and busy Friday night.
My first fare was a woman who appeared to be in her early 30’s, who was asking me advice about what to do with her boyfriend who wanted her to only have sex with him, while he wanted to have sex with other women. This is a very dangerous situation, because when the subject of sex, with the opposite sex comes up, you’re walking on shaky ground. You could get called into the office the next day to be told you’re fired for propositioning a passenger. Or the female could be picking up her boyfriend who she will tell your advice to. If you criticized him, he might get mad and even attack you, so it’s best to keep your mouth shut or be evasive. In this case, I answered in generalities about love and commitment. When we arrived at the bar, her boyfriend paid me, after she went into the bar to get him.
When I cleared my fare, I went to the Amtrack station to sit, in case a train came in. Number 52 was already there, so I pulled up behind him and since it was raining, I got in his cab. “Hi Trevor,” I told him, as he smiled and greeted me with a hand gesture, and answered “how are you Bob?” He was listening to some radio talk show that was talking about developing technology for space travel.
“You know it’s funny how we landed on the moon 41 years ago, but we’ve never gone back, or beyond it,” I explained.
“That’s because of the Overmind,” #52 said.
“Why don’t you explain this Overmind theory of yours to me some more,” I told him.
“Every sentient planet has an Overmind,” Trevor explained. “The Overmind is the essence of sentience that contains all the energy that is appropriated to the sentient beings that inhabit the planet. The Overmind feeds the Collective Consciousness, and has a symbiotic relationship with it, through the unconscious minds of each individual. What you call the soul comes from the Overmind and returns to it when it has fulfilled its potential. The Collective Consciousness is made up of all the living beings that inhabit a planet. The Collective consciousness is fed by the Overmind, and communicates with the unconscious mind of all living beings. This communication is how technology is developed, the over mind knows all the secrets of the universe, and reveals them to the collective consciousness, when the time is right, from which individuals unconsciously appropriate that knowledge. The reason why man has never ventured back to the moon, or beyond, is because the Overmind knows that to do so would be unhealthy to the evolution of Earth, at this time. This is good, because it indicates that the planet is evolving normally, and may be allowed to achieve completion.”
“Number 52, go get Nobles,” Larisa, the dispatcher announced.
“I confirm,” Trevor answered and then told me goodbye, as I got out of his cab and back in my own. The rest of the evening was slow, so when I got a call for the Flamingo, on Portland Road, I was hoping for an out of town trip. The Flamingo is a Hispanic club, and on occasion I’ve picked up non English speaking passengers who went to Portland or Woodburn for anywhere from $50.00 to $100.00. When I arrived, a middle aged Hispanic man wearing a straw cowboy hat and a young woman, who didn’t look old enough to get into the bar were standing there. “Did you call for a cab?” I asked, and they both got in, with the guy up front with me and the female in the back seat, of my sedan. “Where to?” I asked.
“Canby,” the man answered in English with a strong accent, that was hard to understand. Then the young woman in back told me that the address was 666 Ash, in Canby.
“I’m going to need $100.00 up front, before we start going,” I told the man, who balked at the amount and insisted that I call my dispatcher for an estimate. The dispatcher told me that it was estimated at $70.00, but would be less since we were at the North end of town. The man pulled out a handful of crumpled bills that counted out to 3 singles and 1 five dollar bill. I told him that I couldn’t do it without money up front, but he said that he had $100.00 at his home in Canby. Since it was a slow night and I needed a good fare to turn it around, so I took a chance and decided to drive him.
I got on I-5 on the North Portland Road entrance, and my passenger began to complain that I was taking the long way. When I told him that I didn’t know the best way to get to Canby, he told me to get off the freeway and take Highway 99. So I got off in Keizer on the Chemawa Road exit and hit 99. Just about the time that I hit the stretch that the last Yellow Cab driver was murdered, my passenger, who had been complaining about the meter already reading $20.00 told me that he was going to cut my throat. I immediately pulled over and looked him in the eye and asked him, so you’re going to cut my throat? To which he answered that he was just kidding. I pulled down my collar and showed him the scars on my neck from my endarterectomy to clean my carotid arteries and told him that I already had my throat cut twice. Then he pulled up his shirt to show me his multiple abdomen scars from knife wounds.
We proceeded, with him alternating between complaining how much the meter was reading, to telling me that he was only going to pay me $20.00 when we got to Canby, to telling me that he had a very bad family who were going to steal my taxi and murder me, while the young woman in the back sat there silent. At one point he wanted me to drive him to Longview, Washington, after he paid me $20.00 for the ride to Canby. He told me that he was poor and couldn’t afford to pay me, then he asked me how many children I had.
“Seven,” I told him.
“I have 7 too,” he told me.
Then he began questioning me about how much I made each night and how much gas it cost to drive to Canby, and I told him that I had to pay $100.00 lease and $30.00 in gas each night, before I made any money. He advised me to steal the taxi and drive him to Longview for $50.00, to which I told him that I was a Christian and couldn’t steal my cab. He asked me what kind of Christian and I told him “Foursquare.” Then he told me that his wife wouldn’t be able to buy tortillas for breakfast tomorrow if he paid for the taxi ride. I ignored him and kept driving, but the funny thing is, my gut told me that it would work out, and I was more afraid of not getting paid than I was about him killing me.
By the time that we arrived at the apartment complex that they lived in, the meter read $72.30. the young woman in back got out and ran to the apartments, while the guy stayed in the cab telling me that I was only getting $20.00, to which I told him that I would call the police, if he didn’t pay me $65.00 with a discount for my detour. We went back and forth for a few minutes, until the young woman returned with a $50.00 bill. I took it and told him that I wanted the $8.00 that he showed me as well, to which he protested, as he pulled the bills out. I pulled them, one by one from his clutching fingers, until one bill remained that he pleaded to keep for tortillas tomorrow. I gave in and he shook my hand profusely and asked, “no police?”
“No police,” I said, as I called in a $57.00 clearance, and headed back to Salem.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
“How long has human civilization existed?” Number 52 asked #25.
“We have written records going back about 6,000 years and pictographs going back about 10 or 20,000 years,” #25 answered and added, “So that’s the only record we have of it.”
“There was more before there were records, but survival was more important, than talking about it, back then,” #52 explained. “Why do you think that right now, at this moment, humanity is at the stage of technology that it finds itself? How is it that advances are increasing exponentially today, with only a few years between leaps, compared to centuries? Why didn’t the Romans invent the internal combustion engine or the Egyptians electricity? If you say, because the technology hadn’t been developed yet, I ask why is it now? Do you think that humanity is more intelligent today than it was 2,000 years ago? If so what about Archimides the Greek? He was the scientist of antiquity that would be the equivalent to Galileo or Einstein. Why are these great minds so far apart then, but closer together now?”
“I don’t know, but it’s a subject that’s been on my mind for a long time, it’s funny that you bring it up,” #25 said.
“It’s because of the overmind,” #52 said. “The more it is fed, the more powerful it becomes. Have you ever thought about the tipping point?”
“What is the tipping point?” Number 25 asked.
“That’s when more human beings inhabit the surface of the planet Earth, than it can sustain,” Trevor explained. “How many billion or trillion human beings will that be? It can be calculated, and has been, by your scientists and mathematicians. As the overmind is fed, it grows and a symbiotic relationship exists between it and humanity. Just as there is a conscious and an unconscious mind, there is the group mind and the overmind. In a normal healthy planet, the tipping point is never reached, because the group mind and overmind become fully connected, and humanity is fully integrated with the planet that it lives on, and what your philosophers have called Utopia becomes reality.
“Number 25, get Pete’s Place for Michael,” John, the dispatcher called.
“Got it,” I told him over Trevor’s radio. “I’ll talk to you later, I told him as I got out of his cab back into my own. It was a beautiful day that hit around 75 degrees, as I drove down 17th to State. On the corner was a guy with his hair dyed yellow with a green 2 inch stripe, like simulating a Mohawk. He was smoking a joint with an ecstatic expression on his face, while another guy, with shoulder length hair walked past him as he crossed the street. The guy offered the joint to the long hair, who took it and sucked in a big pull, as he handed it back to the guy with the multi colored hair, with a big smile on his face and continued walking.
When I got to Pete’s, there was a guy who looked to be in his late 20’s waiting for me. After he got in the cab and told me his destination, we started driving. Since he kept calling me sir, I asked him if he was in the military, and he told me that he was in the National Guard, and just returned from Iraq, after 8 months duty, as a convoy escort. When I asked if he was using a humvee, he said that they didn’t use them for escort vehicles anymore, and the convoy would sometimes stretch for 3 miles with 6 escort vehicles spaced out between them, and on each end. When I dropped him off, he gave me a $3.00 tip.
I pulled into the main post office parking lot to check my PO Box, and a homeless woman, who looked to be about 50 approached me, asking for help. “I need $4.16, can you help me out?” She asked.
Anytime someone asks me for money, I give them something. Even if it’s a drunk or druggie, so I said, “here’s $1.00, get the rest from someone else,” as I walked past her.
Saturday afternoon was slow, and it really didn’t start picking up until after 10:00, which really tested my faith, since I had a lousy night on Friday, as far as take home went. Then I got a call to the Firehouse Exotic club, out on Portland road, around 11:00 PM, and picked up 3 women and one guy, who all looked to be around 30 years old. The guy sat up front with me and all the women got in back of my van. They were going to 2 different destinations, and the women were all drop dead gorgeous. I assumed that they were all strippers, who were out on the town for the night. After I dropped the guy and one of the women off at a house, with a $7.00 fare, and I continued to the Liberty Spirit, in South Salem with the other 2 women.
As we approached the I-5 overpass I saw a highway patrol car with its overhead emergency flashers on, with an officer putting handcuffs, behind the back of a man lying face down on the pavement. Then I could see another half dozen State police cars, with their flashers on the corner of Portland Road and Hyacinth. The light was red when I reached it, so we sat there for about 30 seconds, while I watched a dozen police officers standing and placing hand cuffs on a group of people lying face first on the pavement, on the North East corner. My passenger questioned what was going on and I had to say I didn’t know. I’d witnessed many arrests, but never one this big, I wondered what it was about as we continued, after the light changed.
As we drove, the women began talking to me about having sex with their boyfriends and asking me if I ever cheated on my wife, to which I answered in the negative. One was surprised and the other said, “see I told you that some people don’t cheat,” then they started arguing and proceeded to ask me explicit questions of a personal sexual nature. I decided that I would take it as far as they wanted to, so I answered every question including whether I slap her ass while having sex, until it bruises, whether or not we have anal sex, and if we do the 69 By the time that I got them to the bar, they exhausted me with questions and told me that I was the best cab driver ever. The fare came to $14.00 for their share of the ride and they barely came up with it, handing me a ten and four wrinkled singles, with no tip.
My next fare was 2 guys in their late 20’s who were going to South Salem from a bar in Keizer. On the way there, I recognized one of the men as someone who stiffed me for the fare twice, even though I eventually got paid, after the police were involved. I pretended that I didn’t recognize him, until I dropped the first guy off, who paid me, and the rip off artist wanted to go home to the other side of town. When I told him that I needed money up front he asked me why, so I told him that he burned me twice before. So he showed me about $30.00 that should more than cover the fare. On the drive there he showed me a photo of a baby that he said was his and how he had straightened his life out and was sorry for being an irresponsible person. He said that he was drinking a fifth of whiskey a day back then and lived in a cloud. When he got out, he paid me with a tip and shook my hand, as he apologized for his previous behavior.
One of my last fares for the night was an SPD (Salem Police Department) call on State Street. When I arrived there were a half dozen police cars with their top flashers on and a blue pick up truck. One of the officers waved me in, and opened my passenger door to tell me the destination that I would be taking my fare. The officer had a serious expression and never smiled. Then a Latino man, who looked to be in his forties got in my cab and I began driving him to the address. I tried to talk to him, but he didn’t speak English. When I got him there he acted like he wasn’t sure where he was, and then he got out of the cab, as I told him that he owed me $10.00, to which he acted surprised and handed me an immigration card that had printed matter on both sides. After fishing around in his pockets he came up with $7.00, so I took it and left him walking around in circles at 3:30 AM.
My last fare of the night was from the far North end of Salem to the far South end for $35.00, so I ended up having a decent night, with nearly $100.00 more booked than the night before.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa better
Run run run run run run run away
Oh Oh Oh
Ay Ay Ay Ay Ay Woo
He sang to me
As I sipped my 7 Up.
The whole thing began an hour ago,
When I got a call for the South Liberty Bar & Grill,
On a slow Monday night
As I pulled into one of the head in parking spots,
I saw a man running towards my cab.
Then he opened the back passenger side door and got in.
“I’m free,” he shouted.
“I just got out of the joint today,
And now I’m free!”
Then he got back out,
And started dancing in the parking lot,
While he was shouting,
“I’m free! I’m free!
Then he got in the front passenger seat
And told me that he wanted to go home.
“Where is home?” I asked.
“Burnt Woods,” he said.
“That’s going to cost around $100.00,
And I’ll need the money up front,” I told him.
“All right mother fucker!”
He shouted, as he took a wad of cash out of his pocket,
And began to peel bills.
“Here mother fucker, is this enough?”
As he handed me 2 - $100.00 bills.
Which I inspected
For a water mark,
Under the dome light,
To make sure that they weren’t counterfeit.
“Yes, that should do it,” I told him.
“Then let’s get the fuck out of here!” He blurted out,
As I backed out of the space,
And onto Liberty.
When I called in my destination,
My passenger shouted,
“Tell him Yancey is back.
They all know me.”
Then he wanted to get some cigarettes,
So we stopped at a gas mini mart on Kuebler and Commercial.
By the time that Yancey came back outside,
The store manager was following him,
With a concerned expression,
On his face.
My passenger was yelling at the people who were getting gas,
Then he walked up to one guy and shook his hand,
“Hi, I’m Yancey, and I’m free,”
He excitedly explained.
The store manager was watching the scene,
As my passenger got back in the cab.
He told me,
As he put some things in his back pack,
On the floor.
So I started South down Commercial toward I-5,
When Yancey announced that he wanted a drink.
“I haven’t had a drink in 4 years,
And I want one.”
“Then we better stop at the Stonefront,”
I told him,
“Because it’s the last bar before the freeway.”
“Let’s do it,
And I want you to come in with me,
You can get a 7Up.”
“As long as I run the meter.”
“Run the mother fucking meter!”
“Do what you got to do,
Just come in with me.”
I pulled into a stall close to the door.
There were only a few cars in the lot.
I put the meter on time,
And locked up the cab,
As I accompanied Yancey,
Into the bar.
There was a female bar tender,
And a female cook running the show,
With about 8 people sitting at the bar,
And playing video poker
Yancey ordered himself a beer,
And I ordered a 7Up.
After about 15 minutes,
Yancey was on his second beer,
And getting drunk,
For four years.
He was becoming so loud and obnoxious,
That the bartender asked me
If my passenger made me as nervous as he did her.
“I still have to drive him to Burnt Woods,”
I told her.
“Why don’t you just walk out,
And leave him?”
Because I already his $200.00 fare,
In my pocket,”
I told her,
“Besides, he would just call for another cab.”
Yancey got change for the juke box,
And began punching selections,
Until Psycho Killer by “The Talking Heads” was playing.
Then he began dancing,
As everyone watched.
And sang the lyrics,
As he sat on the bar stool
Next to me,
Looking at me,
Eyeball to eyeball.
After the song was over,
He took a couple of swigs,
Of his second beer,
And fell off the stool,
Landing on the floor.
I helped him up,
And he decided to get going.
When we got outside it was lightly sprinkling,
But just barely enough for the wipers.
We headed south on I-5
And got off,
At the Corvallis exit.
We drove through Philomath,
As we hit highway 20,
Heading west to Newport.
I asked him what he was in prison for,
And he told me,
I didn’t want to know.
The guy who shot,
The last Yellow Cab driver,
Killed in Salem,
Only got 4 years,
Because his defense said,
That it was an accident,
Since he didn’t know,
That the gun was loaded,
So I didn’t pursue it.
As we drove down the dark road,
We came to a gravel road to the left,
That Yancey had me turn down.
It was two lanes,
But there was nothing but pitch black forest,
On each side,
While my headlights were the only light.
My cab two way radio was crackling,
The dispatchers voice was breaking up,
As he called me,
After the bartender contacted him,
Out of concern for my safety.
“#25,” he called,
“How are you doing,
And where are you exactly?”
“We’re on a gravel road,
Off Hwy 20,
To Burnt Woods,”
I told him.
As the radio started to break up,
My passenger asked me,
“Do you have a cell phone?”
“No,” I told him.
“Then how will you contact your dispatcher,
When we’re out of range?”
I didn’t answer,
But began to feel the first pangs of fear,
Emerge from my psyche.
I continued driving,
For about 5 minutes,
Until he had me turn down a rutted path,
That was one lane,
With an open field on one side,
Visible only by my headlights,
As we rounded a curve.
“Turn out your lights!”
Then he had me stop,
And he opened the door,
And got out.
“I’ve got to piss,”
When he was done,
He got back in the car,
And told me to keep driving,
As he reached into his backpack,
Which was on the floor.
He suddenly with drew his hand,
And inserted something in his pocket.
Suddenly the road opened up to a clearing,
Where there was a car and pickup truck parked,
In front of a large 2 story frame house.
As he turned to me,
And threw his arms around me.
Then he hugged me,
And handed me a handful of scratch it lottery tickets.
“Here,” he said,
“I want you to have these scratch its.
Because I really appreciate you bringing me home.”
Then he shook my hand as he got out.
The meter was only at $162.00,
But he told me to keep the change.
After he closed the door,
I drove back down the same driveway,
Back to the gravel road that led to
Thursday, May 6, 2010
“I was dead,”
Who looked to be in her late 20’s,
“And now I’m alive.
Take me to St. Vincent’s church.”
While I was thinking of a response,
My passenger asked me,
“Do you believe in God?”
Here it comes,
The evangelism pitch.
“Yes,” I told her.
To which she responded,
“My name is Raylene,
And I go to church every Sunday,
To thank God for my life.
When I was 13,
My father rear ended a flat bed semi,
At 50 miles per hour,
That was parked on the side of the road,
On a foggy night.
It was loaded with steel girders.
One of them came through the windshield,
On the passenger side.
It hit me in the face,
And dragged me,
Into the back seat,
“When the paramedics arrived,
They pronounced me dead,
With no heart beat,
And placed me in
A body bag.
The coroner at the morgue wrote out the death certificate,
After confirming that I was dead.
He zipped closed the body bag,
And I coughed.”
Every bone in my face,
And my skin was pulverized.
So they had to,
Reconstruct my face,
After years of plastic surgery operations,
I look like this.”
I looked at her face,
And couldn’t see a blemish or scar.
“You look perfect,”
Then she pulled back her hair,
From her face,
And showed me the scar that ran the circumference of her face,
From her forehead,
To below her chin.
By this time we arrived at the church,
And she paid me,
And gave me a $1.00 tip,
As she exited my cab.
I drove her another dozen times,
Over the next couple of years,
When she was going home,
She worked at one of the county coop’s,
That employed the handicapped.
The last time that I saw her was,
When she was being evicted,
From the halfway house,
That she lived in,
Because she flew into,
From brain damage,
Sustained in the accident,
That God resurrected her from.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
“You make a mistake once, and she’ll never let you live it down. Especially if there are any kind of continuing repercussions, like in the house that we bought. Sure I forced the issue, because I knew that if I didn’t buy one then, when I would be eligible to retire in another 12 years, I never would. So I find this really good deal on a 30 year old home, built in 1970, that was 10 years ago. Today we’re living in a house that is rotting around us, with additional costs to repair things like corroded plumbing, faulty electrical wiring and termites. I’m at the end of my rope, and I’m going to get fucking drunk,” #44’s passenger whined.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” #44 said, and added, “that will be$12.90.”
The middle aged man sitting next to him, was dressed in welder’s coveralls, and had a Blazers baseball cap on. He handed #44 a $20.00 bill, and told him to give him $5.00 back. After his passenger got out, he drove South down Commercial, from the Triangle Inn towards the downtown, thinking to himself how he and his wife would be on an Alaska cruise ship, watching glaciers collapse into the sea, in only another 3 weeks. He pulled into the first stall at Greyhound, and opened the Statesman Journal Daily Newspaper, while listening to talk radio. About 5 minutes later, another cab pulled into the second stall. The lights went out and the driver’s door opened as #52 got out and opened #44’s passenger door, to get in.
“Hi,” #52 said, “how are you?”
“Not too bad,” #44, whose first name was Sonny, answered and added, “so far I’ve booked just over $100.00, how about you?”
“I have only booked $70.00 so far, but the night is still young, as you say on Earth,” #52 answered.
“You have a strange way of putting things,” #44 said. “I used to be a repo man in Oakland, and I ran into a lot of strange characters, but the way that you talk is different than them. Where did you grow up?”
“Where did I grow up?” Trevor thought. “How can I tell him that I grew up on Cantaleze the garden planet in Galaxy 1,224,666,774,239’s 446,594,034,609,163rd solar system." So instead he said, "I grew up on a farm in Northern Minnesota.”
“That explains it,” #44 said, “I’ve never met anyone from that area before. Farming you say? What did you farm in that harsh climate?”
“My grandparents started a vegetable farm, to provide food for the miners that worked the iron ore fields,” Trevor lied.
“What do you think about all this immigration stuff that’s going on right now?” Number 44 asked.
“You mean in the state that you call Arizona?” Trevor asked.
“Yeah, that’s the one,” he said.
“Borders and nationalism are the reasons for most of your wars,” #52 said. “The United States took Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California from Mexico after a series of wars, just like the Spaniards took them all from the Indians that lived there, before them. Your entire history is about war, and stealing land. Look at Israel and the Palestinian’s, it’s all about land. Ever since Abraham immigrated from Chaldea to Palestine, as the book that you call the Bible explains, land deals have been going on. The inhabitants of this planet have been parceling out real estate with blood filled pens on deeds made out of gold as far back as your history records.”
“So then what’s supposed to happen?” Number 44 asked. “Do you expect a utopian society to just happen, and dissolve all borders?”
“Eventually, yes, that’s exactly what will happen,” Trevor explained.
“Just how do you expect that to happen?” Number 44 sarcastically asked.
“What do you think happens to the energy that was you, after your body dies?” Number 52 asked, rhetorically, and then explained, “it goes into the overmind, where all your ancestors reside. The next stage in evolution, if the human race on Earth has been considered worthy to achieve it, will allow all living minds on Earth to be connected together, in the same way that your computers are linked. When and if that happens, everything will be known by everyone. There will no longer be any secrets, or hidden thoughts. Privacy will be abolished, as will selfish individuality and all borders. This planet is but a host, for the sub entity that will attend to the primary entity, that you call God. So you see, everyone is the same, and to answer the question – ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ Yes! Of course I am, as we all are. When new life is born it is part of the potential and has a function, whether it dies 1 second after consciousness, or after 100 years.”
“Number 52, go get the Hut shuttle,” the dispatcher announced.
“I confirm,” #52 answered.
“Number 44, go get Hard Candy, for Memo,” the dispatcher said.
“I copy,” #44 answered and told Trevor - “We’ll have to get back to this later. Sometimes drunk Mexican’s that you pick up at the bars are going to Portland, or Woodburn. It would be nice if this one was. See you later.” He told #52, as he got out and got in his own cab. When Sonny arrived at Hard Candy, his fare was standing outside under the awning smoking a cigarette. His fare was going to the apartments on Center, next to Firebird lanes. He spoke perfect English and on the way there he asked #44 what his heritage was.
“Where do you want me to start?” Number 44 asked. “My paternal grandfather was Russian and Lithuanian, My paternal grandmother was English and Scotch, my maternal grandfather was Polish and Romanian and my maternal grandmother was Swedish and Finnish.”
“Do you follow any of their traditions?” Memo asked.
“Which ones would I follow?” Sonny answered.
“The ones that your parents and grandparents taught you.” Memo answered.
“Well, we used to eat some Polish food, and I got the recipe for pierogi from my mother before she died.”
“You lost it,” Memo said.”I will never forget where I came from. My parents came here from Mexico when I was 5 years old, and I follow all of our traditions and will teach them to my children, when I have some. I am a school teacher and I tell my students how important it is to never forget your heritage and keep its traditions alive.”
“You may keep those traditions, and maybe even your children will, but by the time that your grandchildren are adults, they won’t give a rats ass about their heritage, because they’ll have intermarried with other traditions, so which one’s will they follow. They’ll combine them all together and come up with something uniquely American, just like rock & roll.”
“No! You are wrong!” Number 44’s fare insisted. “We must hold onto our traditions, because this is what identifies you as a person. You are only one part of the big picture.”
“That may be true,” Sonny answered, realizing that he was about to totally blow any chance of getting a tip, “but fucking destroys traditions and breaks down borders. Do you like to fuck?”
“Of course,” Memo answered, “but you’re just twisting these ideas to prove your point.”
“A couple of years ago,” #44 explained, “I drove a car full of Mexican guys home from a bar, and one of them was telling me that he had 8 kids by 4 different white women. He emphasized that they were all white women, and laughed like he really did something great. When those mixed race kids grow up with no daddy, which tradition are they going to follow?”
Number 44’s fare was seething by this time, as they arrived at his apartment complex. The fare was $13.80, and Memo handed Sonny a $20.00, which he returned $6.00 change from. As Memo exited the cab, Sonny told him goodnight, and called in his clearance.