Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Convergence of Drivers

            Mike Shaunacy was driving his taxi down 12th Street around Midnight, when he spotted a woman frantically waving at him on the side of the deserted street.  He pulled into the parking lot by a transmission repair shop and the woman hurriedly got in the front seat of the cab with him.

            “Get me out of here as fast as you can,” the woman told #21, as a jet black BMW pulled into the lot about 10 feet from the cab, as a large man got out and began to walk towards the taxi.  “Take off before he gets to us,” the woman blurted out in a panicked tone of voice, as she handed him a $20.00 bill and told him that it was all his.

            “That’s great,” Mike told her as he peeled out of the driveway heading South on the one way street, “but where are we headed?”

The woman gave him an address in the middle of felony flats, so Shaunacy turned left and headed there.  The woman asked him if he ever helped helpless females to get away from their assailants before, and he told her that he had only been driving a taxi for a few months and had not.  When they arrived at the destination his passenger thanked him as she got out and begged him not to tell anybody where he took her.

Shaunacy headed to the Greyhound station after he cleared, where there were already 2 other cabs in the 1st 2nd  taxi stands.  When he pulled in both drivers were out of their cabs and standing between them with their windows down and the radio microphone resting on the outside of the driver’s door with the volume up to the max.  It was drivers #11, Dora Dimes, a hard as nails middle aged woman who #21 decided that he wanted to fuck.  She had a nice body, but her face usually wore a scowl that scared off most suitors.  For some reason she seemed interesting to #21, so he began to flirt with her.

“Hey beautiful,” #21 said to #11, as he nodded to #33, who was standing beside her.  The rain had let up for the time being, so the drivers all decided to stretch their legs as they began to talk about the way that #52 had just quit showing up for work after being a model employee for the past year.

“He always seemed strange to me,” Dora said.

“I only talked to him a few times, but he was kind of different, that’s for sure,” #21 agreed.

“I think that he may have only used his job as a taxi driver as a cover for something else that he was involved in,” #33 said.

“How would you know?”  Number 11 said, “you didn’t even start working here until after he was gone.”

“That may be true, but I ran into him a couple of times when I worked for Universal Cab, and besides that everyone at Yellow Cab talks about it so much that I can piece together the story from what they say.

“Okay, I guess that makes sense,” #11 said, “did you hear about #43 getting parked?”

“I thought that I heard something on the radio last night, but it was so busy that I forgot,” #21 said, and asked, “what happened, while he wondered if #33 was hinting at knowing that he was only driving taxi to deal drugs to his customers.”

“I guess that he picked up a flag on Portland Road and then before he could call it in, he got a time call for Walmart North.  He told John the dispatcher that he already had a flag, but would go right over to Walmart after he dropped him off.  Then John told him that he wasn’t supposed to pick up flags because it was too busy, and when he got to Walmart, he couldn’t find the time call, but there was a DC Cab sitting next to the grocery door, so they or another company may have gotten it.  Because of this he was parked and sent home,” Dora explained.

“Number 11, get South Liberty Bar & Grill for Tammy,” John called over the radio.

“Roger,” #11 said, as she got in her cab and drove off.

“Number 33, get ER for Samantha,” the radio announce.”

“Yes, I have it,” Owens answered.

Finally John said, “#21 get Miguel, at the Lucky Fortune.”

“Confirm,” #21 said, as he wrote it down and drove down Church Street and took D Street to Lancaster.  When he got there and went inside he found his fare playing video poker and told him that his cab was waiting.  His passenger, who looked to be in his mid 40’s told him that he would be out in a minute, and after about 5 minutes, he came out with a young blonde anglo woman, who looked about 25 years old.  They both got in the back seat of #21’s van and the man told him an address off Silverton Road.  As they headed there the man asked if they could stop at a convenience store.

“Sure, just let me know which one,” #21 told him.

The woman began to speak and she said, “I hope that I don’t ever get thrown in jail for an indefinite number of years, without any clothes, while being abused by my captors.”

“Neither do I,” #21 said, while the older man nervously laughed. 

When they arrived at the convenience store they both got out and went inside, while #21 ran the meter.  Since they were in the neighborhood of one of the deliveries that Shaunacy needed to make, he called the buyer on his cell phone, while waiting.

“Hi Scott, it’s Mike,” #21 spoke into his phone.  “I’ll be at your place in around 15 minutes, with your order.  It comes to 5 big ones.”

After he hung the phone up his passengers came out and got back in the cab.  The Latino man pulled out his wallet and started talking about what a beautiful country America is.  He said that he forgot his wallet inside a convenience store 2 times and in each instance, when he returned the clerk had it and returned it to him, with all the money and his ID intact.  He said that in Mexico, he’d be lucky if he got the empty wallet back.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Drunks of Salem - Part One

The weather has definitely shifted into the rainy season as the assiduous foliage begins to undergo color changes with glucose building up and replacing chlorophyll production as photosynthesis comes to a halt, with colder weather and diminished sunlight.  The rain and wind drove the transformed leaves from the tree branches and into the streets, where the traffic blew the leaves against the curbs, onto the sidewalks and into the air where they lodged themselves on the windshields of thousands of automobiles, trucks and other motorized internal combustion engine vehicles.  I was driving a van for the weekend and got a few grocery runs, families with kids, passengers with Bicycles, wheelchairs and walkers, until the bar crowd took over after 2200 hrs..

“Number 25 get El Patron for Bernard,” Dotty the dispatcher called on the radio.
            “Got it,” I said, as started heading towards Center. 
El Patron was a Mexican Night Club for hip young Latinos.  When I arrived, 6 Native American young men got in my taxi who were checking out the Latino scene.  Five of them sat in the back seats and Bernard sat up front with me.  They all had long hair, that either hung like black flax past their shoulders, was in a ponytail or braided.  At first I thought that some of them may have been female, until they began to talk about getting some pussy, unless they were lesbians, which was always possible.  Bernard appeared to be the group’s spokesman, as I asked him where they wanted to go.
“Anywhere with pussy,” one of the guys in the back said.
“We want to go to the best hip hop dance club in Salem, even if it the Riverfront,” another passenger interjected.
At this point in time, it would either be Copper John’s or the Riverfront, since the crowd seemed to alternate its allegiance on a weekly basis.  We decided to head to the Riverfront and on the way there, Bernard wanted to know if I could turn the radio up.  I turned the dial up and One Of Us by Joan Osborne was playing and he began to sing along.  When the song ended I told him that he could play any station that he wanted, so he changed the station to the hip hop rap station and turned the volume up so loud that it took all my concentration to drive.  Pretty soon everyone started to join in repeating what the rapper was saying on the radio, and Bernard turned the volume down on the radio as all 6 Native Americans began to sing in unison -
“Why did she leave me?
Why did she go?
I needed her badly,
I needed her fo sho.
Hiya, heya, hiya, heya, hiya, heya,
Whoop, whoop, hiya, heya, ho.”
Unintelligible sounds,
Whooping and yelping imitating dogs barking.
“Hiya, heya, hiya, heya.
Why did she leave me?
Why did she go?”

            Bernard turned towards me and asked if I had ever heard Indians sing before.  I told him that I had been to a couple of Pow Wow’s, saw “Red Thunder” perform twice and even saw John Trudell and Bad Dog once.  Bernard acknowledged my mention of John Trudell, since he was a Native American activist, who even participated in the Alcatraz occupation.  My passengers continued to alternate between chanting, whooping and rapping until I began to cry, and tried to concentrate on my driving.  It was as if my taxi cab had become a temple, and the “holy” was present, even though it was in a completely different theological system than I was used to.   I was experiencing that moment when the sacred and the profane share the same space for a mili-second. When we finally arrived at the Riverfront, there were only about 8 cars in the parking lot, and there were no interior lights visible, but they seemed undeterred and after paying me they each thanked me and went inside.

            As wrong as it may seem for a former minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who now drives a taxi cab for his ministry to admit, I make the most money when I drive ungodly drunk people than godly sober ones.  Drunks are both generous and consistent, because as alcohol replaces brain fluid milliliter by milliliter they become inebriated and act illogically.  This results in larger fares, because of incorrect directions and bigger tips because of a good mood resulting in depressed brain activity.  Any thinking person must consider why the government allows a substance which reduces brain function to be legal, but then people have to have some release from the pressures of the insanity of everyday life. 

            Sometime after Midnight I got a call for an address in South Salem off of Battle Creek.  The man that I picked up was half drunk wanted to go to Windjammers, where he was going to pick up a friend.
            “My friend is drunk, so please be patient with him,” my passenger said and added, “I’ll tip you well.”  On the drive to the bar my fare kept answering his cell phone, talking for 30 seconds, hanging up and repeating the cycle, until we finally arrived at Windjammers.  Then he asked me if I could come back for him in 45 minutes, after he gave me a $20.00 bill for the $7.90 fare and told me to keep the change.

            “Sure, I’ll be back for you,” I told him.

            We hit a dead period, and I only had one call during the interim and when I pulled into Windjammers, my passenger came out, and handed me a wad of bills, as he asked me to come back for him in 20 minutes.  I counted 10 singles and a 5 dollar bill in the wad, and told him that I’d be back.  I parked a block away a read a Becky Garrison’s book “Jesus Died For This?” While I was waiting.  The part that talked about renting crosses to carry through the Via Dolorosa and up to Golgotha, with wheels attached to the bottom to make it easier had me in stitches.

            When I returned to Windjammers, my passenger was ready and he had his friend with him, that he warned me would be drunk.  On the ride back to his house my passenger’s friend would ask him if he knew who was singing the song on the radio, and each of 3 times he didn’t know the Eagles from Wings or Led Zeppelin.  When we pulled into his driveway the fare was $8.00 even and he gave me a $20.00 bill and said to keep the change.  As they walked up to the house the record expert fell over backwards on the driveway and hit his head on the back bumper of a car parked in the driveway.  I immediately opened my door, but my fare waved me off and said that it would be okay, as the fallen man got up rubbing the back of his head.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Reflections


            “Why do we worry about altering the environment of the Earth?”  The voice on the radio asked, and explained, “what humanity seems to forget is that it is part of the very ecosystem that it worries about changing.  Does a bee worry about how it effect’s the environment by pollination or does a termite worry about the destruction that it causes by ingesting cellulose.  Of course not, yet the human race seems to think that by altering the ecosystem that it lives in, it is doing something detrimental.  Humanity is simply a larger scale of other life forms, who also act instinctively to reproduce and interact with their surroundings, causing growth and change to take place.  I believe that humanities purpose is to prepare the planet for the next stage in its evolution, which I have documented in my book, “Earth’s Destiny,” which for a limited time is available for the incredible low price of…”

            I turned the radio off as my passenger got in the cab, with her Walmart bag full of Halloween candy as she told me her destination.  As we drove she told me that she had cancer and just got her prescriptions filled for Percocet and dilaudid to kill the pain, but they didn’t really do anything.  She said that when she drinks beer along with the drugs that it worked better, but her tweaker friends criticize her for it.

            After I dropped her off at her place in felony flats I picked up a student at Tokyo International University of America, who was dressed like an Anime character named Goku from Dragonball Z, and drove him to Lancaster Mall.  On the drive there we started talking about dreaming, and then we began to talk about dream patterns and interpretation.  He said that he had been reading a book about the stages of dreaming and when I asked him to elaborate he did.

            “In stage 1 you simply dream, and may not remember anything about it,” he explained.  “Stage 2 is when you remember your dream after you wake up.  Stage 3 is when you realize that you are dreaming while it’s taking place.  Stage 4 is when you are able to control your dream.  Stage 5 is realizing that you are in someone else’s dream.”

            “That’s interesting,” I told him, “I’ve experienced the first 4, but not the 5th stage, however I got most of my information from reading a book by Carl Jung, about dream interpretations, through repetitive symbolism.  Like when I kept dreaming about Mt. Jefferson becoming an active volcano, when I was in Jefferson Park while backpacking with my family.  I found out that the volcano represented God, because of the uncontrollable power that it held which could be released at any time and completely annihilate anything in its proximity.  In one dream I was leading my family between molten lava rivers to the erupting volcano, in another I was trying to convince them to leave our house on the side of Mt. Jefferson between eruptions.”

            After I dropped him off I picked up an elderly couple, in their 80’s,who I’ve been driving for the past 7 years.  The man’s name is George and his wife Mildred recently went blind from a botched cataract surgery.  George always brings up the coming depression, and talks about his memories of the Great depression in the 1930’s, that he remembered from his youth, when his father had to steal food, so they could have something to eat.

            “It was ‘dog eat dog,’” George said, “a man wouldn’t think twice about killing somebody if he had to, just so he could provide for his family.  This time it will be a lot worse, because there are a lot more people.  When people get hungry and desperate they turn into animals.  That’s when you really see a survival of the fittest.  I’m glad that we’ll be dying soon, because the world is going to hell in a hand basket.”

            When I dropped them off the mall, George gave me a $10.00 bill for the $7.30 fare and said to keep the change.  Then I got a call to pick up someone at one of the drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers who was going to the hospital for medication to help them with withdrawal.  The nurse who signed my trip voucher warned me that the guy was high on methamphetamines but that he should be okay. 

A few years back, one of the tweaked out passengers that a female driver picked up, attacked her while she was driving, causing an accident, that resulted in post traumatic stress syndrome for the cabbie.  She hasn’t left her house since then and the incident took place in 2002.  The tweaker had a jar filled with her own urine and feces that she smeared all over the driver, after she bit and scratched her and pulled out some of her hair.  The accident occurred when the tweaker in the back seat pulled the cabbie backwards by her hair.

            On the 10 mile trip there, my passenger told me that he just got out of jail 3 days earlier, after spending 45 days in lock up.  He said that he was clean and didn’t want to get high, but that his girlfriend talked him into doing it, he said in a voice that sounded like subdued hysteria, making me think of Dennis Hopper in “Easy Rider.”

            “She’s gorgeous, and after 45 days in that shithole I was so horny that I could fuck a hole in the wall.  She wanted me to shoot up with her, and then she said that we could fuck until we came down.  I have to leave her and get out of here!”  He said with tearful emotion in his voice.  “She’s gorgeous and I love her, she has the most perfect body in the world, and when she’s nice to me it’s like heaven, but she wants me to do crank with her.  I’ve got to get away.  I’m going to Port Angeles, Washington to work on a fishing boat as soon as I get out of rehab.  I don’t care if you stay out a month or two and don’t get any sleep, I need to make some cash and I have to get away from here.”

            When I got him to the hospital he asked me if I could give him a dollar in change so he could buy a candy bar, because he needed something sweet.  I gave him 4 quarters and he asked me for a cigarette, but I told him that I don’t smoke, so he got out of the cab disappointed, but thanked me for the buck.  I wished him a happy Halloween as he got out, and he said that he spent July 4th in rehab too, and was tired of drugs ruining all his holidays.  As I drove off I turned the radio on.

            “The real joke about the human race is the seriousness with which it gives to itself, as if anything that it produces will exist in the next eon,” the voice said.

            “What I think that you are forgetting, or rather omitting is the fact that all the energy created by human activity is spiritual in nature,” a second voice interjected.

            “That may or may not be true,” a third voice countered, “but the real issue here is whether or not…”