Sunday, December 16, 2007

taxi driver

Dear Boston,
Great Armageddon impression. Can we have some decent weather back?
your friend,
a Soaked & Tired Blonde Waitress trying desperately to hail a cab after a total bummer of a Sunday night shift

This was all I could think as I slipped and slid over a veritable death-trap of sidewalk, directly into a 6-inch deep puddle in the middle of the road. This city is soaked people, and its streets over-runneth like a super-saturated sponge. When I called to book a taxi to bring me to work at Toro 7 hours earlier, the dispatch at City Cab quoted me a 2-1/2 hour wait. The dispatches at Town Taxi and Boston Cab didn't even pick up. I am so screwed, I think, as a Silver Line bus splashes past, spraying a 4 foot-tall wall of chunky, icy water in all directions.

Then, a miracle. A taxi appears, way, way down Washington Street, on the other side of Mass Ave. I begin to wave furiously, screaming "Taxi! Taxi" into the deaf frigid air. Please let it be empty, please let it be empty. Somehow, the driver sees me, and flashes his brights at me from so far away: he is coming to take me home!

The cab pulls up near where I stand in the middle of Washington Street, only he passes me by about 4 feet. He holds up an index finger in the window as he glides by, as though to say, "Hang on a sec,"while his cab slows to a stop. What the...? I think, Is he dropping someone off first? Then I realize, he's expertly maneuvering the cab so as to avoid splashing the aforementioned puddle every which way. Such attention to detail, I think, and run to grab the passenger door handle fast as my massive boots will carry me.

"How are you this evening?" the driver asks. The Taxi Driver has a long-ish, bushy white beard that makes him looks like Santa. I consider telling him this, but don't.

"Okay," I sigh. "It sucks out tonight! Boy, you must have been busy today!" I tell him my address and we are off.

"We were kind of busy..." he responds. "Weather made it kinda hard to get around." Then his phone rings, and our small talk dies, which is fine with me. I zone out and stare out the window, thinking about the holidays and packing and our big trip to California tomorrow, for which I still have not packed. The Grateful Dead hums in the background. Bits of the Taxi Driver's conversation drift into my consciousness.

"Hey..." he says into the phone, "What are you up to? About to turn in?" His voice is gentle and private. I imagine he's talking to his wife, and try to guess what she looks like. Maybe like Mrs. Claus? I appraise his profile and decide not. I bet she is a short, wiry brunette, with a simple, pretty face and a strong jaw.

"Oh...Oh no," he says. "Well, that's too bad...Well, I guess we'll have to get a new one then...You're right, we can't afford it, just like we can't afford the mortgage, either..." he laughs, but it's not a very funny laugh. "Okay, well, just put it on your debit card...put it on the Citizen's Bank credit card, that's all we can do...I know, it's going to cost like $240 in interest by the time we're doing paying for it, but we need a new one. What else can we do?" His sigh is heavy. "Alright, love you. Talk to you later."

We are almost at my street, at the corner of Berkley and Tremont. "Now, where did you want to get out here? On the corner?"

"Actually, if you don't mind going left here, I'll get out right after the light," I say.

"Okay," he says, turning wide and slow on the icy pavement. "Right here? I can turn down Warren if you want..." He says.

"No, no worries. I'll just hope out at the corner. It's a one way at the top and you'd just have to turn around."

"Oh. Okay," he says, a little surprised by my decision to make his job a little easier. "It's $4.35," he says, but I am already passing a $5 and five $1's through the open Plexiglass window.

"Thank you so much," I say, gathering my things and pushing the door open. "Have a great night!"

"I'll try," he says. "I just found out I need to work another shift to pay for a broken computer, but what can you do" he shrugs and laughs, but it's not a very funny laugh. "Oh well." I hear him shuffling the bills as I place a ginger boot on the icy pavement. "Be careful, it might be icy," he says.

"Thanks, I will. Happy Holidays!" I slam the door behind me before he can say anything about the 100% tip I just gave him.

I'm not really sure why I just did that, and it's certainly not like I can afford it. But I hope the broke Taxi Driver takes it for what it is--an arbitrarily big tip as a token of gratitude, simply because he seemed like he needed someone to say thank you for once. And also, because he saved a blonde in need from chunky icy puddle and Armageddon-like weather. If you were outside at all yesterday, you know-- that was priceless.


Anonymous said...

Uhhhggg! The weather has indeed been atrocious! Abysmal! Down right crappy.

That was a kind gesture, Kitty. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful time on holiday in CA! :)

JustTooEasy said...

Your words make me smile. You did a kind thing. Nice.

The Taxi driver showed you courtesy when you were in need. I think that is more than worth a $5 tip, no matter what the fare was.

Living just down the road from Vernonia Oregon, where the puddles are six FEET deep, I could belittle your complaints about weather. BUT there are many folks that would risk their life for the mere chance to live the comfortable wealthy life I call "ordinary day-to-day living." So who am I to complain about the weather?

I enjoy your writing. Thank you for sharing your talent, as well as your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Little exchanges like that are what make this time of year magical.