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A Night in the Life

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and I spent the night with my sweetheart, Radio Cab. For your reading pleasure (or utter boredom), I recorded every single fare I took last night. Enjoy.

1. My first fare I picked up at the train station. I was sent there to pick up someone who’d prepaid with a credit card, but he wasn’t answering the phone, so I sent his order back into the system and picked up one of the random people trying to hail a cab from the front of the station. Into my cab popped a tall, fleshy man with a wild mop of brown hair and huge glasses that magnified his eyes. He had a strong accent, and I found that he was from Mexico City, and was on a backpacking trip of the U.S. He’d not planned on coming to Portland, but someone told him he should, so he’d switched his itinerary slightly and had a few days here. I told him to go to Powells, and also to try to switch hotels, because he’d ended up at the Days Inn at Delta Park, waaaay north near the truck stop and horse track. We talked about Mexico City and how I’ve romanticized it because of the Beatniks and I want to go some day. He chuckled at that, because he thought that was silly, because he knows how different Mexico City in 2013 is from Mexico City in 1955, or because he couldn’t understand me, I don’t know.

2. Next, I picked up a grocery order at Fred Meyer on Lombard. I often try to avoid these (as does everyone) but I was in a good mood and I’ve been making an effort to take any fare that comes my way and see if I make more money (I usually do). Terry lived just a few blocks from the store and had a trunk full of stuff, but he was sweet, and very concerned with pronouncing my name right (“is it with a Q?” “Well, it sounds like it has a Q, kinda, but more like a Y… it’s Swedish” “Oh! Swedish! Shouldn’t you be blonde??”).

3. I went back to Fred Meyer to pick up the other grocery order. This was a man named John and he lived way up near the airport so it was a good fare. He’d had a heart attack and couldn’t lift his bags, but I didn’t mind doing it for him. We chatted about how drugs in his day were cleaner, and about music, and his heart. He lived in a super sketchy trailer park. I carried his groceries into his cluttered, dirty trailer while his little chihuahua tried to bite my ankles. A pack of disheveled children followed me around, one of them pointing a BB gun at me the whole time, which was a little disconcerting. Once, he propped it, barrel down, on the ground at his feet like some sort of small blonde mountain man, and said very sweetly, “How are you?” I replied that I was very well, and complimented his shoes (camouflage print Converse). John thanked me and I was on my way.

4. I got an order off Dekum after that. I was driving slowly down the street trying to find the right address when I saw a man walking down the sidewalk wearing a huge red pin-striped zoot suit, with a red top hat and shiny red shoes to match. I drove right by the house because I was staring at him. As I was turning around at the end of the block I realized he was my fare. When he got in, I told him I was distracted by his suit, and he replied in a lazy Southern drawl, “A big red suit is exactly what you need on stage, but it makes it hard to comport yourself in day-to-day life.” Otherwise, he was silent.

5. Zoot suit man went to inner S.E., and next I picked up a couple at a restaurant on E. Burnside, going out to dinner. We had to stop and get her I.D. on the way.

6. Regular customer, sweet man from New Orleans with a thick, thick accent, going to the movies.

7. A businessman from Lloyd Center Doubletree to a wine bar on Burnside.

8. Punk girl from bar on lower E. Burnside to a tattoo shop downtown. Said she was celebrating being alive because 2 years previous, she’d been beaten severely by a random large man for no apparent reason. I have a feeling there might have been a reason, but I applauded her survival anyway.

– Went to Inn at Northrup Station for a button call, no customer

– Got an airporter from way up in the West Hills. Drove up there, parked outside, sent the call out message, saw people moving around near the front door, and then got a “Trip Canceled” message on the computer. Bastards.

9. Older man from Nob Hill Bar and Grill to the Greyhound. He was a teacher and a tugboat captain. He told me he was going to Boise to see his friend’s band, The Mostly Muffs. He told me that his friend was the drummer and she wore short skirts with no underwear and “Man, you can see ALL of her muff!”

10. Woman from a waterfront condo to NW 21st, asked me if I was going to “get to celebrate at all.” She seem anxious about Valentine’s Day and embarrassed to admit she was going out to dinner with her parents.

11. The westside was annoying me so I drove back over to inner SE and picked up a couple from Biwa going to a downtown hotel. They argued quietly in the back about whether or not Voodoo Donuts was a tourist trap (she, convinced it was, he, convinced it was 50/50 tourists and locals). I really wanted to chime in and let them know the truth (used to be something we were proud of, has become a tourist trap, the donuts are really nothing special) but they seemed a little scared of me, as people often do if they aren’t used to taking cabs.

12. Picked up a man with a bike at Powell’s. He was recovering from 3 strokes and a heart attack and was very chatty.

13. Picked up a couple that I’d dropped off the night before. I don’t like them, for no particular reason. Dropped them off on NE 28th.

Dinner break! Parked near Laurelhurst theater, ate my chicken spinach avocado salad and spilled dressing all down my front. Awesome.

14. Woman from inner SE to NW. No talking.

15. Picked up a babely babe near my very first Portland apartment on NW Trinity and took him to inner SE. He looked and smelled like my first boyfriend ever and had a really adorable east coast accent.

16. Ventured into Ladd’s Addition to pick up 2 girls in 50’s party dresses, going to a ‘prom’ at Rontoms. They talked the whole time about how they were the best dates they could possibly have on this romantic evening and how they should have bought each other corsage. I told them they looked beautiful and they gave me a big tip.

Coffee break! Went to my favorite coffee shop and got an 8 oz. coffee. It’s a nightly ritual and I feel weird if I don’t do it, even though I am trying so hard not to drink caffeine. My fav barista wasn’t working, which is probably for the best because I always end up talking to her for way too long.

17. Went back to Ladd’s and picked up 2 more ladies. They were coming from a podcast recording about OkCupid and we told OKC stories the whole way to the Standard.

18. 2 girls from Rum Club to SE Clinton. Awkward.

19. Drove 40 blocks for a fare and the woman didn’t answer her phone. Thought it was going to be a no trip, but she called me back as I was driving away. $5 fare, but very apologetic.

10 p.m. — went home for dinner. Warmed up homemade chili, listened to music, played with Bear. Back to work by 10:20.

20. Picked up the owner of Lucky’s and took him back to work at the bar. A woman in a hot pink shirt was waiting to pay for the cab and he told me they owned the bar. I saw her hug and kiss him gratefully in the rearview mirror as I drove away. I believe he had come back to work to help his partner/wife? with a busy night and it was the most romantic thing I saw on V-day.

21. Another almost no trip, he called as I was driving away and I went back. Pleasant conversation.

22. One of my favorite fares of the night! I took a chance and drove out of zone to a strip club on SE McLoughlin. Picked up 2 skinny, geeky guys who were super chatty and confident. Going to a club downtown. Through conversation we figured out that we had all dropped out of high school, and been part of the goth/theater/bisexual/Rocky Horror Picture Show crowd while we were still in school. They were adorable and there were a lot of excited “Omg! Me too!” (you had a 1.8 GPA?! Omg, me too!) exclamations while they were in the cab. Bless their hearts.

23. Definitely my favorite fare of the night! A server going home from work at one of the NW 21st fancy restaurants. He lived way out in SE, which would have made it a great fare right there, but through random conversation about the weather I found that he used to set net in Nushagak with his family and we had a really fun fish-talk sesh (I spend the summers working at a salmon cannery in Alaska. More on that in later posts). He rattled off the names of all the rivers (Nushagak! Egegik! Ugashik! Naknek! Kvichak!) in Bristol Bay and I almost crashed the cab I got so excited. Yay fishermen!

24. Sweet chatty guy from NE Burnside to Funhouse Lounge. He told me he’d been at an event put on by Kill Rock Stars earlier in the evening and mentioned Bikini Kill, so when he got out I put them on and spent the rest of the night when my cab was empty screaming along with Kathleen Hanna. My throat is sore today.

25. Picked up the guy who owned the Kim Jong Grillin’ food cart before someone burned it down.  We had a good conversation (hi if you’re reading this!) and I wish him well in getting his restaurant off the ground.

26. Picked up two drunk lesbians from Holocene and took them to NE. We talked about Bikini Kill playing and joked about knowing Bikini Kill being a prerequisite to being queer. I told them about the girl in high school who, when I told her I liked Bikini Kill, gave me the third degree about the names of each person in the band to make sure I wasn’t a POSER. She was the queen of the goth/bisexual/RHPS set and this tied in nicely with the geeky boys from earlier. One of the drunk lesbians was wearing an adorable white knitted hat with a pom-pom on top and red hearts embroidered onto it. I hate when people color code their outfits for holidays, but this was damn cute. She told me I was amazing about 50 times and they gave me a huge tip.

It was 1 a.m. by this time, I’d been working 10 hours, and I thought the sweet lesbians were a good end to the evening. I went home and went to sleep so I could get up early and write this blog.

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