You want to get up?
a sluggish SUIT column by Chris Jungle
You just never know what will happen when you are in the Yellow Cab. When the alarm goes off at 4:20 a.m. on Friday, I am a bit sluggish and hung over, but I have already decided I would pick up a shift. Drain the fluids, gulp some water, put on ready-to-wear clothes, grab the backpack, and out the door before I can rethink my options. Roll through the silent town to the downtown headquarters, sign in, start up the cab and lurch back onto the streets for twelve hours of cruising.
By six in the morning, I've only gotten one ride, and my groggy head doesn't seem to be improving. I can't sleep but instead keep my eyes closed until I get the call to pick up at the Riteway Inn. Not exactly the best clientele come from the Riteway, but after seven months of driving, I've met the entire spectrum of individuals Albuquerque has to offer. No one overly impresses or disgusts me. We're all just people, so I keep my judgments to myself and drive the passengers wherever they want to go.
I plod along to the room number and knock on the door. A young lady comes out and wants to go a few miles down to Quincy, basically a straight shot down the nearby major street, San Mateo. I say my standard early day greetings: Good morning. How're you doing today? Where can I take you? Is your day beginning or ending?
Turns out she's been out all night and has to get home before her brats wake up. Partying with rockers and so on. I nod. She asks me how I am, and I reply that I'm still trying to wake up.
"You want to get up?" she asks.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, you want to get UP?"
Many things go through my mind for what she means, but headaches have a way of making you not focus. I could ask her to clarify herself again, but I don't really want to know the answer. She asks if we could stop at a convenience store along the way, and I tell her what I tell every passenger: We can go wherever you want as long as you pay the meter.
We stop at a Texaco right by the interstate, and she asks if I want anything. I say a cup of coffee would be great. Lots of passengers like to buy food or drinks for cab drivers, and if I'm in the mood, I let them get me something. As she walks out of the vehicle, I notice she has a pretty face. A little worn out, but not bad looking at all. She comes back with some junk food munchies for herself and a big cup of coffee for me. Back on the road, I slurp my coffee, and she repeats her earlier statement.
"So you want to get up?" "What are you talking about?" "Do a line. You want to party?" "No, It's early. I'll just stick to coffee. Thanks, though."
At six in the morning and a hangover, I don't think a fleeting moment with serious stimulants is the way to go. In fact, at six in the morning, I'm not quite sure if there is a way to go.
"Mind if I smoke?" she asks.
"No, go for it," I reply. I don't smoke, but for the price people pay to drive the cab, I figure they should be as comfortable as possible.
"You don't know what I'm smoking."
"Why? What have you got?" I ask, and I turn around to see her crack pipe.
"Is it okay?"
"Well," I ponder. It's the first serious thinking I have to do this morning. I weigh the options, and it makes my head hurt. This is a choice for night drivers, not the day shift boys. There is one point in her favor, and I make my decision based solely on it.
"Yeah, since you bought me coffee, go ahead."
She sizzles a hit, and I drive her home. She asks me again if I want to do a line and party, and all I keep thinking is that it's six in the morning. How can people live like this? Two brats at home, sneaking out on them to party all night, taking the cab home early in the morning, hitting the pipe, and propositioning the driver. Ker Raze Eee.
Maybe if my head doesn't already hurt, maybe if I've already made some money, maybe if it's not six o' clock in the freakin' morning, there might be more to this story. I decline her offer one more time and collect nine dollars. She says anytime I want to party, come pick her up. She asks my name, and I tell her. Her name is Angel. Ironies abound.
What's the point of this story? It has something to do with cause and effect. If I don't walk in to work, I don't pick up Angel. If she doesn't buy me coffee, she doesn't get to smoke crack. If I didn't drink too much the night before, I might have found out more to the crazy life of the underclass. If you aren't in a reading mood, you never know about this. If I could think of something more significant to talk about this week, no one would have known. But there it is, here we are, and what's going to happen next?