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“No one just drops someone in the middle of Northeast,” the cab driver said. “What a dick.”

I sank back in my seat, warmth returning to my face. “Live and learn, I guess.” Really I fervently agreed, hoping that first taxi man was getting his balls bitten off by the tranny prostitute he had bought with my four dollars.

***

Fifteen minutes earlier the Radio Cab dispatcher assured me the wait would be “hopefully no more than five minutes.”

“Great. Hopefully I will avoid kidnap, rape and hypothermia by pacing around in front of this well-lit Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits,” I thought.

Thirteen minutes later and still poorly dressed for Portland’s fickle weather, I turned a disgusted heel to MLK and Monroe and stomped three steps before the taxi cut across my path and into the parking lot.

***

“Hey! Hey you!” The guy who was sitting outside the Plaid Pantry in his shitty SUV, apparently for pleasure, motioned me over. I slitted my eyes and shook my head once.

“No? What the fuck?” He spun his tires as he pulled out of the parking lot and through a red light. Unfortunately no one T-boned the driver’s side.

I stepped inside the Plaid. “Can I wait in here for my cab?”

“Sure,” said the chubby red-haired clerk from Michigan. “This isn’t an area you want to be outside at this time of night.”

“No. That mariachi plaza in Mexico City we accidentally wandered into late one night wasn’t an area I wanted to be in,” I thought. “Right,” I said.

***

“How is your night going?” I asked the taxi man as I settled into the back seat. It smelled damp and faintly of vomit.

“Ok. L-l-lots of ch-charges.”

“Charges?”

“Cards … no c-c-cash. C-c-can’t accept any more.”

“Well my card is all I have too.”

“No cash?” He made eye contact through the rear view for the first time.

“Well a couple dollars but not enough.”

“How much cash?”

I counted out all my bus money …. $4.11.

“That’s fine. Here.” He held his upturned hand over the middle of the front seat, and I warily deposited my cash. The meter read over five dollars. “Ok. MLK and Russell. This is as far as I can take you.”

“What? No! I live way up the road!” One and a half miles is a long below-freezing walk at midnight.

“Sorry.”

There were better responses: demanding my money, demanding my ride, writing his cab number. Instead I slammed his door and stalked off determined to walk the rest of the way.

***

Five blocks later, darkness stretched past Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits. A car slowed down and creeped along the oncoming lane. Stiff, chilled fingers dug through my bag for a cab card.

***

“Next time make sure you take down the cab number,” the cab dispatcher reminded. “We have no way to pursue this.”

“Oh and make sure you have your debit or credit card to pay for your next ride.”

“Thanks for very little,” I thought. “Thanks,” I said.

***

 

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