6.20.2006

Wow

Last night was really bizarre and interesting for me, but not really in a bizarre interactions with my fares kind of way. What was more interesting to me was how much money I made, and how I made it - just a very atypical night in terms of where I worked and how the money came in, though my earnings ended up at about average for recent Mondays, if not more (and I'll take a brief moment of smug pride to note that my "average" Monday is better than some drivers' average Saturday).

Anyway, the very few (if any) people who come here likely aren't interested in my ruminations on how to work the MDT and when to book in zone 419 and when to just book in 119 or 122 by itself. No, this was conceived of as a venue for telling stories about my interactions with my customers, and you probably want to hear about the man and his prostitute.

Sometime around 3 AM I was driving eastbound on West Burnside, with the goal of crossing the bridge, when a middle-aged white man and woman flagged me. I'll almost always take a flagger, being generally of the mind that a bird in the hand (someone who's right there and will obviously get in the cab) is worth two in the bush (a call that may or may not come up on the MDT for a person who may or may not be there when I arrive). I also tend to have really good luck with my flaggers, especially when downtown. They often want to go to Vancouver, or some other distant place.

I had second thoughts when I stopped for these guys. As the woman opened the door, she began yelling across the street to someone else that she'd be at her nephew's after "I get cab fare when I'm done fucking this guy."

I let them in, though, my reasoning being that this guy obviously had cash. "This guy" being an incredibly drunk and moderately sun-burned man who seemed capable of saying very little except "wow" over and over again. They wanted to go to the Holiday Inn Express at NW 23 & Vaughn, but before we could get more than a couple of blocks they had me turn around so the woman could talk to her nieces. Her "nieces" ended up being two large black men hanging out at the corner of SW 5th & Washington, who sold her something that was either crack or meth or an attempted facsimile of one of the above.

When she got back in the car, she was overjoyed to see that her purse was still there, as it had her pictures of her children in it. Which prompted the following conversation:

Man: Wow, you've got kids?
Woman: I got six. Two pairs of twins and two singulars.
Man: Wow.
Woman: Two pairs of twins and two singulars.
Man: Wow
Woman: Yeah.
Man: Wow, life is such a miracle.
Woman: I'm guess I glad I had them.
Man: Wow, can I see their pictures?
Woman: See these little buggers? Them's the twins.
Man: Wow. I need to get some kids soon.

On the way to the hotel, they had me stop at the Plaid at NW 23 & Glisan so he could buy cigarettes and cherry coke. While he was in there, the woman told me more about her kids, who range in age from 4 to 25. She says she lives in Seattle, and that she never does stuff like this up there with her husband and kids around, she just comes down to Portland to hang out with her boyfriend and have fun (she makes it clear that this guy is not her boyfriend).

In the end, he gave me a $1 tip on a $17 fare. More importantly though, he gave me cause to think about something I hadn't ever thought about before: is it polite to ask the woman you're paying for sex and who has just bought drugs sold in rock form for you to see pictures of her children? I would have guessed that this was considered a faux pas in the world of trick/ho relations, that prostitutes as a rule don't show johns pictures of their children, much as they famously won't kiss on the lips. In this case, however, the woman was more than happy to talk about her family life, and in far greater detail than I've related here.

If anyone has any insight into this, I'd appreciate hearing it.

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