Vasoline Alley welcomes a tourist

Friday night was hot fire.

Due to locking my keys in the car, again*, taking a shower, and going to a meeting, I only worked about seven hours. Business was kind of slow for a Friday night, to boot.

And I still made as much as I do when I bang out the whole shift on a weeknight.

I try not to talk too much about the mechanics of my job, as I understand that it's not very interestirng (and the specifics unintelligible to someone who doesn't work for my company, or at least know its zone map). This blog is supposed to be about telling specific stories about my interactions with my customers. Still, Friday night was one of those nights where I was just at the peak of my game, and the feeling of being in a zone like that is terrific. I talk way too much about how good I am at my job, and that's both boring and self-indulgent.


The nights where I'm making all the right decisions with the MDT, making my fares laugh, and picking the right routes, where everything's just falling into place perfectly and the money's rolling in at a great hourly clip while I know other drivers are sitting on their asses - those are the nights where I'm just absolutely in love with having a job that can be so much FUN. It's why I still drive a cab, and thus why you occasionally get to read sleazy stories about fisting.

Not that much interesting happened in the way of conversation or passenger behavior. I had one young couple that were apparently in the carpentry-for-hipster-bars business. They spoke incessantly about the bars they'd made and were making, using completely incomprehensible jargon. My complete bewilderment and disinterest in their conversation is why I resist talking about "soon-to-clearing," "temp offing," bidding, when to accept trips from adjacent zones, when to start and turn off the meter, etc. It's endlessly fascinating to people who know and care about such things, and very much not so for those who don't.

The other somewhat interesting passenger was pretty hilarious. I dropped off a guy who'd just gotten off his swing-shift job at the Roxy, a 24-hour diner downtown on Stark. Across the street is Jake's Crawfish, a restaurant/bar that's very popular with tourists and people with relatives in from out of town (I've honestly never picked up a party solely comprised of locals at this place, nor has anyone I've thought to ask).

Almost all of the other businesses for three blocks are gay bars or bathhouses. This section of the street's nickname is "Vasoline Alley."

While filling out my trip sheet, I was anxiously flagged by a white man in his mid-to-late fifties. He was wearing a t-shirt that said "HOMELAND SECURITY IS A GUN IN MY HANDS." Instead of being a solid color, the letters were comprised of red, white, and blue stripes. The guy also had a significant pot belly, a Wilfred Brimley white mustache, glasses, and a baseball cap with a bald eagle's profile on it.

He ran to get in the cab, and told me to take him to Jubitz, a massive truck stop out on Marine Drive. He was really drunk, and the whole way there he kept talking about how "I ain't never seen nothing like it." I kept trying to coax out what exactly he'd seen, but all he kept saying was "I ain't seen nothing like it. Not in Vegas, not in New York. The, the... they were young people! Young people, and they were just walking about out in the open, like, like..." then he'd just kind of trail off into a stupor. He was an airplane mechanic down from Alaska, and he continued to be loudly adamant that he had never, ever seen anything like Vasoline Alley. "This city is a strange place, a very strange place," was the other thing he kept repeating. When he got out, he told me that I should leave town as soon as I could, that's what he was doing.

I wasn't able to get the details out of him, but instead spent the rest of the night having great fun (occasionally with passengers) making up stories about what, exactly, the Homeland Security agent from Alaska had stumbled into that night.

I worked last night (Sunday), and would love to do some gloating about how much money I made, but it can get tiring to pat yourself on the back so much. There was a fun encounter that I'll relay some other time. For now, I need to sleep, as I'm probably working tonight, too.

*For those of you wondering how a fuck-up who manages to lock his keys in the cab twice in the space of about a month and a half still has this job, the answer is sex. Lots and lots of sex. My prohibition on sleeping with customers does not extend to my hottie of a two hundred and seventy-five pound, sixty year-old weekend superintendent.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you sick dog...


September 05, 2006 8:17 AM  

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