Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Do I know you?

“Hello,” I said to an elegant, bejeweled, elderly lady as she stepped into the back of my taxi.
She ignored me and continued a conversation with an equally elegant, bejeweled, elderly lady who followed her inside.
“Four Seasons!” she snapped, interrupting her conversation and raising her voice in an imperious tone before returning to her chatter - all without glancing in my direction.
“Hello,” I repeated cheerfully.
“Four Seasons!” She commanded more loudly, still without looking at me.
“Hello,” I repeated again with equal cheer.
She turned and looked at me, giving me a once over.
“Do I know you?” She asked in a tone of voice that let me know that such a eventuality was impossible.
“It’s a common greeting in the English language,” I said pedantically. “It’s a sign of recognition from one human to another. It’s a way of being polite.”
“Is it?” She asked haughtily. Then, she turned back to her acquaintance and again snapped,
“Four Seasons!”
I often tell people that I win 98% of my arguments in my taxi. This was one of those two percent. The bitch had me.

I couldn’t very well slap the shit out a 75 year old woman no matter how much she deserved it. (My guess is that she had 74 years and 6 months worth of slapping due her.)  And, I couldn’t 86 her out either. Taxi Services was not likely to back me up for tossing an old woman because she refused to say “hello.” Aministrators have no sense of humor.

I drove her to the restaurant.
When we arrived she started fawning on a black doorman calling him “Charles” and asking him what the special was for the day and how his family was doing. Her faux friendliness, of course, really meant the opposite. She spoke his name in such a way as to let him know that she was honoring him by the mere fact she remembered it. Or, maybe she didn’t? Maybe all the doormen were “Charles” to her?
The man looked back at her, nervous and anxious, uncertain of what to say or do. He either gave one word answers or said “yes ma'am “to all her questions.
“You realize that he hates your guts, don’t you?” 
She turned to give me a knowing smirk.
“Or, is that it? You know he hates your guts but he’s obsequious anyway. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?”
“You’re smarter than you look,” she said as she let Charles help her out of the taxi. Then, she turned back around and stuck her head in the window saying,

“Maybe you’ll find a job some day.”


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Money Well Spent

He stood about 6'5", was skinny, balding and had only one top front tooth. He must've been in his late 70's or early 80's. His skin was discolored from living on the street. 
I’d been seeing him panhandling for years on O’Farrell near Macy’s. Good spot. The traffic backs up there most of the day. I occasionally give him a dollar. It’s good Karma. Besides, in my business, the words “there but for the grace of god go I” are a daily truth. I know I’m one accident, one piece of bad luck, from joining the old dude.
On this evening, I almost didn’t tip him. I’d been driving for seven hours. My back ached, my knees ached, my ankles were sore and I was exhausted. It seemed like too much trouble to reach for my one-dollar stash. Then, he glanced at me with a look that was both desperate and somehow proud, like he was trying to be cool.
I pulled out the buck and stuck it out the window. He saw it and his face lit up as he came toward me. He  broke into a big smile and started talking to me like I was his best buddy. Maybe I was the only one who ever tipped him.
“Homebody almost had the no-hitter!” he exclaimed joyfully.
It took me a second to understand.
“Oh yeah - the Giants - Cain.”
“Yeah - should’ve had it too. ”
“Didn’t see it”
“Lucky hit ... damn good we signed him.”
“Damn right. Can't think of a better use for $130 million.”

“Damn straight!”