Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mystery destination

I was belled to an alley address, and by the house number and neighborhood I knew it would be a problem. Older folks congregate in that area, and while I have nothing against the elderly, they don't make for good taxi customers. What follows is typical.

A man and woman, each over 80, and the guy may have been in his 90s, were waiting for me. They spent several minutes getting in the car, talking the whole while.

    Me: Okay, where are you going?

    Him: What?

    Me: Where are you going?

    Him: 6th Avenue

    Me: What city?

    Him: 6th Avenue

    Me louder: What city?

    Him: 6th Avenue

    Me, remembering that he hears quite well, as he and his wife were conversing at a low volume just moments ago: In what city?

    Him: 6th Avenue, then I'll tell you where to go.

    Me, turning to stare at him: I need a city, and I also need a cross street or address.

There was dead silence as he looked at me, then past me out the windshield. I started my stopwatch (part of my wristwatch) about ten seconds into this, holding my hand high so he could see what I was doing. He responded when the chrono showed 28 seconds.

    Him: Why aren't we driving?

    Me: Where on 6th Ave?

    Him: 6th Avenue.

A man cannot sigh longer or louder than I did. It simply can't be done, even with training and determination. I can't scream at him -- I'll be him in 50 years. I gave up and drove him towards 6th Ave in downtown San Diego. For all I knew he wanted National City or Losfuckingangeles.

    Dispatcher, after a few minutes: 92

    Me: 92

    Disp: Did you pick up?

    Me: 10-4

    Disp: Where are you going?

    Me, with teeth clenched: No idea.

    Disp: Why not?

    Me: He won't tell me.

    Disp: Do you need assistance?

    Me: I need a Tums.

    Disp, in an understanding tone (she had taken his original phone call): 10-4

When I got on 6th Ave, I pulled over as soon as I found a clear space along the curb. After an eternity he and his wife were out of the car. The rear door was open, and I saw that they were both up on the curb (well away from the car). The man was looking through his wallet. I realized I didn't want the money, I just wanted to get away. I jammed the throttle, which automatically closed the open door, and drove away.

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