Saturday night I got a call around 4 AM to pick-up at the Safeway at 122nd & Powell. The "additional remarks" on the order, where the phone number or fare's location typically are, said "Red dress, no cell phone."

I instantly started getting bad vibes. The chances of something good going on with someone wearing a red dress and stuck at Safeway at 4 AM in that neighborhood are basically nil. My assumption was that I was going to be getting a meth geek and/or prostitute.

Instead, I pulled up, and a gorgeous young white woman in a beautiful dress (not too revealing or conservative, perfectly suited to her body) waved at me. I pulled up, and the first thing I noticed was a two or three inch long cut and the beginning of bruising on her left cheek.

And suddenly I was furious. In control, and not outwardly so, but still completely livid. Not at her, of course. I once had an argument with a friend about whether or not it was messed up that I basically consider hitting a woman worse than killing a man. This woman had obviously been hit, and hit very hard.

She went into Safeway to tell them that her cab had arrived, while I sat in the cab waiting for her and gnashed my teeth. She asked me to take her down the road to 122nd & Holgate. When I asked, she told me that she'd been hit by her boyfriend, thrown from a car, and that then he'd come back and tried to pull her back into the car.

I pulled into the parking lot, and a man was sitting directly in front of us in my head lights, with a gash down the right side of his nose. "A lot of people getting hit out here tonight," I thought to myself. She told me that she was going to get her purse, and that I was to call 911 if she wasn't back in two minutes. I asked her if she was about to go back into a situation where she might be hit again.

"I don't know," she said. I told her that there was no way I was going to let that happen. I'd give her a free ride anywhere she wanted, if paying me was the reason she was worried about the purse. She explained to me that her keys were in the purse, along with the cell phone. I told her that I was going to go to the apartment with her, then, that I couldn't in good conscience do anything else. She agreed to this.

We got out of the car, and I grabbed my cell phone, rolled up the windows, and locked the doors. I didn't like the look of the beat-up looking guy in the parking lot. We walked up to a townhouse style apartment, and she knocked at the door several times. A dog barked on the other side, she said it was hers and seemed on the verge of tears. The lights were off, and no one came to the door after repeated knockings. "Let's get out of here," I told her. "I'll take you anywhere you want to go, a friend's, wherever, let's just get out of here." She finally agreed, and we turned to go.

Walking towards us was the man from the parking lot. He was short, but large. Large in a muscle-bound way. Large in a "Crabbie has no chance in hell in a fight with this guy" way.

"Can I have my purse back?" she asked him. Without a word, he unlocked his SUV, got the purse out, and threw it with moderate force into her midsection. She caught it, which impressed me. They stared each other in the eye for a few seconds, every muscle in my body tensed and ready to throw down and try my best, maybe brain him with the cell phone Naomi Campbell-style.

Then she turned and walked away.

We got back in the car, and I just started driving. She was headed to Milwaukie, her father owns two house across the street from each other. She had keys to the unused one. She explained to me what happened: he'd wanted her to have sex with another man while he watched. She hadn't wanted too. He'd gotten more insistent, more drunk. She'd gotten scared and left. He'd followed her to the bar she went to, pulled her into the car, punched her, and after she'd hit him with a large ring, he'd thrown her out at Safeway. She'd rushed in and asked them to call her a cab. She hadn't noticed him in the parking lot.

She was proud that he looked more beat-up than her. So was I. She's a criminal justice major, also teaches pre-school. She's studying forensics, wants to find missing children for a living. She's beautiful, smart, kind, and packs a punch. I felt myself falling for her, slipping into Travis Bickle land. I pulled myself out of it.

About halfway to her father's, she asked me if a white Toyota 4-Runner was following us. I felt my heart skip a beat and feel fatally stupid, I hadn't been watching for this. There was indeed a white Toyota 4-Runner behind us. I took a quick, swerving turn onto a side street before the truck could respond. A few more evasive maneuvers. The SUV wasn't there anymore, but I'd been so focused on trying to shake it I didn't see if it had tried to follow.

I also noticed that the passenger side mirror has been detached from its motor.

I drove her to her father's. She told me that the guy was history. I asked for her phone number so she could confirm the story about the mirror, as I'd have to write a report to cover my ass. I also gave her my card. She'd said that she didn't want to call the cops, to ruin the guy's life, that she just wanted him gone. I told her that that was fine, but that if she ever changed her mind, I'd testify for her.

I told her that she didn't have to pay me, but she insisted. The $30 on the meter, plus a $10 tip. It ends up saving a night of atrocious business luck, making it tolerable.

I didn't really give a fuck. I just wanted to stop at home, grab the baseball bat, and go back out to Holgate.

Instead I soon-to-cleared in zone 112, and went back to work.

I've been bad about updating the blog. I think that this is partly due to me not working as much, partly due to my recent move, and partly me generally being in kind of a funk of late. That this slacking also occurred just as a few people I don't know started reading and enjoying this is also both unsurprising and instructive. I'll try to be better about it.


Blogger wil said...

Get a 5-D-cell maglite and carry it with you at all times. While it is better to run than fight, if necessary, aim for the kneecaps or shins. If you use it, use it HARD! Never strike for the head, but arms, wrists and the gut are also good targets.

21 years of baton experience and if you've read all my blog, a few experiences as a cabbie.

July 26, 2006 5:45 AM  
Blogger Crabbie said...

I know, I know. The maglite is a crucial part of the cabbie inventory that I just have never gotten around to acquiring, constantly putting off or forgetting. Today's a day off, so I'll grab one when I wake up. I definitely missed it on Saturday.

I think I've been a little cocky, figuring that I could effectively subdue anyone of any size in a cramped space like the cab where my knowledge of anatomy and fighting dirty (and their likely intoxication) would work in my favor like it did with the one guy who did attack me.

This is of course a completely stupid attitude, and especially worthless in a situation like the one above. I've got too much 26 year-old punk-ass kid in me, not enough grizzled ex-cop!

Thanks for the tips, my reflex is always to go for the head (specifically the sensory organs), and if not that then the neck, kidneys, and knees. But now that I think about it, going for the head leaves me way too open liability wise, in that it could really hurt someone, especially if I'm hitting them with something like a huge maglite.

July 26, 2006 6:01 AM  
Blogger Roehampton Hardly said...

Good read as always, Crabbie. I hope you stick with the blog now you are getting some readers - you've done the hardest part!

July 26, 2006 6:07 AM  
Blogger DC Cab Rider said...

What a story. Glad for her someone was there to take a helping hand. Hope she has a good life and Mr. "likes to watch" gets drunk and falls into the Willamette.

July 26, 2006 5:59 PM  
Blogger MJ06 said...

I dont up date my blog as much either of course I only get a very limited fraction of traffic on my blog.

Maglites those are some sweet flash lights in my opinion.

Well Im glad that every thing worked out okay for you.

July 26, 2006 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great advice Will whats the next purchase a bullet proof jacket.In time you will learn to drive away the burn out rate within the cab world is very high there is no paid stress leave.

July 26, 2006 6:38 PM  
Blogger Crabbie said...

The main reason I need a maglite is so I can, like, look at numbers on houses and stuff.

But yeah, I don't see driving a cab nights as being my "career." I've given a friend permission to shoot me if I'm doing this in 20 years.

Though I really don't find it all that stressful if I keep a good attitude about it. A lot of this is likely due to my ability to make more than other drivers. It's also worth pointing out, for people who don't know Portland, that just about every violent/unpleasent experience I've written about here took place in parts of town that are more prone to that sort of thing, and are easily avoidable on nights where I don't feel equipped to deal with that potentiality.

July 27, 2006 1:42 AM  
Blogger jeepgirl said...

As someone who has been in a similar situation as your lady in red, thanks for being there. I know she appreciated it. I usually have a maglight in the jeep with me too... people see canvas doors and think its a free ride. OC spray works well too!!!

July 28, 2006 2:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep writing man, and keep that 'conscientious' attitude going. It's something that's sorely lacking nowadays. You might even have saved Lady-in-red's life that night.
Though I'd probably ask Wil for a few lock & control techniques, might be useful.

Keep it up!


July 30, 2006 6:58 PM  

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