Stop the Presses!

I was going to make this post about something else, but then I had my last trip of the night/early morning.

I got a call to take someone to the airport. A kid about my age came out, loaded down with bags. He's moving to St. Louis (which NPR told me on the ride back to the garage is now the most dangerous city in the U.S. - worse than Detroit or Compton).

Anyway, I of course asked him why he was moving to St. Lous. The answer?

He's going to start a band with some friends from his hometown in Southern California.


If you aren't aware, this is like someone moving out of 60s era San Francisco to become a hippie. This is what people my age do - they move to Portland, and they start bands (or move here together, as an already existing band).

You see, I have the misfortune of living in the hippest city in the United States. Portland is the number one destination for inmigration for people between the ages of 20 and 35. Austin, TX isn't even that close, New York and L.A. are back in the dust. And we aren't just talking percentages here, kid, I'm speaking gross numbers. When I go back to one of my many "home towns" and talk to people there, all the ones my age be all like "Oo, Portland, I hear it's so cool there."

It's rare for me to talk to someone my own age who's lived here more than five years. For most of them, it's less than two.

And every single one of them is in a band.

(And I'm one of them, see? I'm cooler, though, because I've been here 8 years and am in 3 bands)

Anyway, I'd like to salute nice-guy-with-a-pentagram-tattoo-on-his-neck for moving out of Portland to start a band with his friends, even if I almost had a heart attack and nearly needed to pull over when he told me. You are the shit, sir, and are hopefully in the vanguard of a new trend.

I continue to enjoy the early morning fog, and to take pictures of it while driving (NOT SAFE, DO NOT ATTEMPT!). It should be noted, however, that its presence is an almost certain sign of global warming and the inevitable decline and eventual extinction of civilization as we know it.


Turn Back the Clock

Daylight Savings Time ended tonight.

I've been dreading this day with increasing panic. Being so far north, and working nights, I will now be seeing even less of the sun. There will be stretches where it will have basically risen and set while I was asleep. It's not like you actually see the sun very often during the day time in the winters here anyway, what with all the clouds, but it's at leat daylight. Which I'll miss.

I'll pretty much have two moods for the next four months or so: suicidal and homicidal. Just so you've all been warned.

Oh, and if you want to share in all the joy, I finally got around to opening up an email account for people who feel the need to email me. It's creatively named crabbycabbie@gmail.com I've also added it to my Blogger profile.


The Fog

It's been really foggy the last few early mornings, and I kind of enjoy it. It reminds me of living in the Bay Area (S.F. Bay). It also lets me get to see my co-workers do stupid things, like think they're turning onto the freeway, when in fact they're roaring into an empty parking lot at 50 mph.

(this particular co-worker isn't actually doing anything stupid, he's just chillin')

Something I love about Portland: occasionally, just occasionally, a washed-up looking drunk who I had to drag away from his seat at the video poker machine in one of our divier dive strip clubs will stumble into the cab after a few minutes and ask to go 15 blocks away. And it will be okay, because he will offer me some of the salmon he smoked that afternoon, and the salmon will (of course) taste wonderful. And my tip for the $4 trip will end-up being an excellent meal that I would've had to pay $20 for in one of those godforesaken places where they don't have salmon, and the washed-up drunks don't smoke it themselves. And it wouldn't have tasted nearly as good for that $20, either.

Only two people were wearing costumes, and neither of them was any good. I'm not working tonight, I'm going to go see the newly re-constituted Spacehawk, and will not have crazy Halloween stories for you. I'm perfectly happy with that.


Cultural Anthropology (Initiating Mating)

Ways in which different ethno-cultural groups and sexualities hit on me:

Black women compliment me on my eyes.

Gay men compliment me on my beard (unless black, in which case they'll remark upon my eyes).

Bi-sexual men compliment me on my smile
(unless black, in which case they'll remark upon my eyes).

Transexuals and cross-dressers compliment me on my dick size if I'm wearing tighter pants. If not, they compliment my face in its totality
(unless they're black, in which case they'll remark upon my eyes).

White women tell me about how I'm the only cool guy they've met all night.

Asian women ask me to tell them about my life.

Hispanic women tell me how good a dresser I am.

Older white women ask me for advice on their sex lives.


Crackheads offer to suck my dick for $4, or just let me see their breasts for $2.

(I wish so much that I'd just given her a dollar to take her fully-clothed picture, but for some reason that felt like it would've been just as exploitive)


Working hard, or?

The most exciting thing that happened last night is that I watched a couple episodes of The Wire with my friends at the beginning of my shift. I did that Friday night as well. I've found my new attitude toward work to be immensely gratifying and relaxing. Each of the past couple of nights I only worked 7 hours, and still ended up taking home a net of around $22 per hour worked.

I love The Wire, I love my friends, and I love having a job where I can take the time out to appreciate them.


Award Tour

So here's the deal: when it's a morning after work, I find myself without the energy or inclination to write about work. When I'm not working, I don't often feel like writing about work. So my apologies for the infrequent updates. I think a lot of this has to do with this blog becoming as narcissistic and masturbatory as I didn't want it to be. I'd like for it to go back to just being stories about my customers, but taking the time to write things out in detail just feels like a gigantic chore when I get home from work, and when I'm not working... etc.

Anyway, I'd like to recognize two people who won special "Crabbie's Finest" achievement awards last night:


This goes out to the woman I picked up around 3:30 AM. She got in, and told me about how she was having a rough night: she'd made dinner for a guy she'd really liked a lot and just recently met, and then they went out to a bar and got drunk. He got really drunk, and was being a complete asshole, and got the shit beaten out of him by six other guys. He got kicked out of the bar, and she was happy to see him go. Then she went back to her place, to find the guy there on her doorstep. He blamed her for his getting beaten up, and proceeded to punch her. She left, and went over to her friend's place.

She of course had my sympathy, and I was getting very angry, but she wouldn't let me call the cops.

Now we get to the award-winning part of the trip: it turns out that I was not driving her from her friend's back to her place (as I'd assumed), but was in fact just right then taking her away from her house and the guy who'd hit her. And the guy was still there. In her house. Where she'd left him.

Regular readers have likely picked up on the fact that Crabbie is not, by any means whatsoever, a big fan of the police. At best, he treats them with mild disdain. But he understands that the Portland Police Bureau is good for a couple of things other than shooting unarmed mothers in the back and pepper-spraying babies. One of the things they are good at is getting creepy drunk guys who've hit you in the face and won't leave your house to, well, leave your house. In fact, if you're a woman, they'll probably be kind enough to punch the drunk guy a few times for you (and if you're lucky, they'll even leave him to die on the sidewalk, while never bothering to call cab drivers who come forward as witnesses to his death).

But about the dumbest fucking thing you can do in this situation is leave the drunk guy you don't know and who has just hit you in the face alone in your house for the night.
This woman claims the award from the guy with cerebral palsy who started a fist-fight with me. They're big shoes to fill, but I'm sure she'll do her best.

The next award is:


This is one that I never thought I'd see topped. A bartender called a cab to go to her apartment 4 blocks away. Her reason being that she didn't feel comfortable walking at that time of night in that neighborhood - there were a lot of sketchy people around. As perfect illustration of her point, an incredibly sketchy drug-addicted fellow tried to talk me into giving him a ride through the window as I dropped her off. I turned him down to take an airporter.

This trip was all of $2.90 on the meter (flag drop is $2.50). She claims her award from the dissipated alcoholic who went from the 82nd Ave Bar & Grill to Spot 79, and the regular who goes from the Alibi to the hotel two blocks away (his trip costs more because it involves waiting for a left-turn signal to make a U-turn). Both of these fine fellows clocked in at $3.10. I don't think this young lady's ever going to be beat. Tied, maybe, but I don't think $2.70's attainable. $2.90 is like Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game, it just can't be beat.

Please don't make any special attempt to prove me wrong.

She also gave me a $7 tip, which makes her a double winner and immediate inductee into the Crabbie Hall of Fame.

I don't know how to fix whatever happened with the font/formatting, and I don't really care.


I heard I'm still alive

I almost died last night.

I had just picked up my cab and was beginning my shift. As is fairly usual, I turned the meter on and "soon to cleared" zone 111 (inner southeast), and got onto 405 southbound, with the expectation of hopping over the Marquam Bridge and getting to work. It had just rained, and the roads were slick.

Getting onto 405 from NW 16th, you're immediately placed in an "exit only" lane that takes you directly onto the Sunset Highway (the exact opposite direction from where I wanted to go). I was going at a relatively slow speed (about 45 mph, speed limit's 50) due to the weather conditions. As I merged onto the highway proper, a car merged in behind me at about 65-70, and there was another car in the center lane (left of me) going about my speed, maybe a little faster. I had my turn signal on, and the guy in the center lane was neither slowing down nor speeding up to facilitate my merge, and the car behind me was riding my bumper. With the off-ramp to Sunset fastly approaching, I accelerated and attempted to merge left.

This is where I lost control of the cab and began hydroplaning.

I ended up doing a complete 360 degree spinout in the middle of the freeway, and was stopped by the curb (thankfully just a regular curb, and not a Jersey barrier) on the shoulder of the lane I'd started in. That I wasn't hit by another car is, frankly, miraculous.

This is one of now four close brushes with death that I've had. For those curious, I've never had my life flash before my eyes, or ever thought in anything but the most mechanical and detached ways when it's happened. There's always an awareness that I'm in a situation that could potentially be the last situation I'm ever in, but instead of panic, I find myself just matter of factly thinking of things that can be done to increase the odds of finding myself in future situations. I remember very vividly what was going through my head each and every time, tonight it was "steer into the swerve, don't use the brakes, brace for impact."

That I wasn't hit came as such a huge shock that it was a good 5 to 10 seconds before I could think or move to tell the dispatcher what had happened. No cars stopped to help me. I got off the freeway with the wheel shuddering in my hands, and inspected the car. No apparent damage to the cab, except for the front passenger's side tire being knocked out of alignment from where it hit the curb. I babied it back to the garage, filled out an incident report, and went over to a friend's. My night was over without picking up a single fare.

The superintendent assures me that I won't be fired over this, but I'm still pretty shook. I've always prided myself on being a safe driver. I was hired with a completely clean driving record, and still have one. I've driven in Portland for 8 years, and learned how to drive in Dallas, Texas - where the speed limits are higher, the winter rains much heavier (if less frequent), and the drivers completely insane. When I was nine, my father broke his neck when a cab he was in on a business trip in San Francisco hydroplaned on the freeway and ended up rolling over.

I've always been extremely conscious of driving safely, and especially so in slick driving conditions.

Now this shit.

I don't know - I'm going to get completely reamed by the Safety Board. I'm not going to be able to buy a cab for even longer than I'd anticipated. But right now, at this particular moment in time, I'm just freaked out that this happened in the first place. I need to completely re-evaluate my opinion of myself as a driver, because as the superintendent told me (even as he was comforting me) - "if you hydroplaned, you screwed up and were going too fast."

And he's correct, and I almost got myself and other people killed or seriously injured because of it.

It also occurs to me that I should've checked the tread on the tires, after I took the cab in, because the guy who owns it is a notorious cheapskate and selfish bastard. I didn't think to take pictures for the blog either. I just wanted to get the fuck out of there and over to my friend's house, where of course I just felt weird and freaked out anyway.



My new "I don't give a fuck" attitude has been working wonders. Last night was very enjoyable - I took time off to get gourmet ice cream with my friend Todd, and spent some more time goofing off with my roommate (meaning he drove me back to the garage to pick up an extra set of keys, as I again locked mine in the cab).

I did a larger amount of personal business tonight than usual. Recently I've added a guy I knew in college as a regular customer, and tonight I added the kid who washes dishes at the ice cream place, who I've driven before. He moved here alone at 18 from Mexico, and is putting himself through school. I've driven him before - just an extremely nice guy who's been working extremely hard at making a better life for himself. He doesn't tip, but I really like him a lot. I'll be happy to run out of my way to pick him up.

Not much in the way of crazy stories tonight. My last fare and I talked about politics. I typically get annoyed when talking about politics with people up here, as most are misinformed and/or naive and/or overly simplistic (George Bush is a moron is what it always seems to boil down to). This guy was none of these things, and he was drunk, so the conversation was fun.

Something he said leapt out at me - "the genius of these guys [Republicans] is that they've managed to equate dogmatism with patriotism and pragmatism with disloyalty." As someone who studied the phenomenon a great deal in school, this is perhaps the most concise and accurate definition of facism that I've ever heard. Fun times here in the ol' U.S. of A.

Something else mildly amusing happened, but I forget and don't particularly care. I accidentally gave the gas jockey a 50 instead of a 20 when I filled up at the end of the shift, and didn't realize my mistake until I got home. But, alltogether now...

"I just don't give a fuck."

I am a very zen cabbie.



I worked last night for the first time since the night that made me so angsty, pissed-off, and just flat out crabby. It was better, I've decided to adopt a new attitude toward work that will hopefully make things less stressful when they get bad.

This attitude is one of "I don't give a fuck."

It's wonderful. I spent the first three hours of my shift hanging out with friends. Hell, I don't think I actually picked up a fare until 10:30. I've basically decided that I'm going to start working like an owner, even though I still have to pay a lease. I won't be making as much money, but this is fine. I've got enough saved up for a down payment on a cab, and there just isn't really any pressing reason for me to be making as much money as I was. I don't have a family to support, so why bust my ass to make enough money to theoretically do so?

A fair amount of story-worthy things happened last night, all involving women. The most interesting encounter involved driving Mercy Corps' (Crabbie's favorite charity) former deputy director of country for Afghanistan to the air port. I don't remember enough of the conversation to attempt a re-creation here, as I don't want to mis-represent some very nuanced points she was making.

Things I learned:
It's very different being a western woman in Afghanistan in terms of the way men treat you.

They get along pretty well with the Taliban, as they've been in the country for over 20 years and are known and respected. Turning down money from the U.S. government likely helped in this regard.

When she told me that she focued most of her energy while there toward agricultural development, I asked her the obvious question - "what compelling reason can you possibly give an Afghan farmer to not grow poppy?"

Her answer was basically that there isn't one, aside from the moral and religious ones. She explained to me just how much of a miracle crop poppy really is - part of its hardiness is that it's remarkably drought resistant, and it can also be stored for up to 7 years.

We talked a lot about Muhammad Yunus, of whom we're both big fans. I was really, really happy when I heard that he won the Nobel Prize.

Basically, I really love it when I'm able to have intelligent, informed discussions in the cab with people who are, well, truly intelligent and informed. As opposed to, say, drunk people who went to a liberal arts school and watch "The Daily Show." I get them sometimes - this woman, a really cool developmental economist famous in economic circles for hating on classical development economic theory, the nation's leading expert on wind power, etc.

I need to go back to college. This is what the combination of last night and the cranky night has convinced me of.


The 50th post is negative

Yesterday was so wonderful. I had a fantastic time playing a show in such a wonderful environment, and on a rediculously gorgeous autumn day. Our set went well, and I was just so happy and proud to know and love people who make such beautiful music (I'm not talking about my thing here, but my friends'). I left feeling absolutely wonderful, just incredibly happy and really and honestly in love with life.

Then I went to work.

I just don't want to get into it at this point. I made decent money, especially for the hours I worked, but I was nearly in tears at several points. It was like instead of a "kick me" sign, someone put a sign reading "crackheads, people without enough money, and drunk people who are humungous assholes for no discernible reason - WELCOME!"

I hated my fares. And hating my fares reminded me of just how incredibly wonderful I'd been feeling at and after the show. And this made me hate my job. And hating my job made me want to just turn the cab in. And wanting to turn the cab in made me hate the company, because there aren't any cabs available to purchase, and upper management (but certainly not the superintendents or dispatchers, who LOVE me) is angry at me for this incident. Which made me hate upper management, as the supers see my self-reporting as demonstrating integrity, a character trait which I've found has done me far more harm than good in this business.

Which made me hate my job even more.

And all of this made me very conscious of the fact that I'd be sleeping alone, and have no one to come home to and snuggle with and kiss and tell stories to.
Which reminded me that my job makes the prospects of finding such a someone exceedinly dim. Which made me hate my job more. Which reminded me of the way too many gorgeous, intelligent, and caring women I know - all of whom, of course, have either boyfriends or no interest in someone who works nights and weekends. Which made me hate my job even more.

This made me think about getting a new job, except for the fact that this dead-end job pays literally twice as much as any other dead-end job I could get, and allows me to save to go back to college. A realization which made me hate my job more. But I can't get a girlfriend to spend all the extra money on, or go out with my friends, because... I have a fucked up schedule. Which made me ready to burn the garage to the fucking ground.

The guy at 4:45 in the morning who had his 8 pieces of luggage in the driveway along with his wife and two small children spilling yogurt all over themselves and said "gosh, I forgot to ask for a mini-van, didn't I?" has no idea how close he came to death.

So now you know why so many cab drivers are misanthropic troglodytes with copies of "Death Hunt" that may or not in fact actually be porn in their glove compartments: because they are sad and lonely and sexually frustrated and feeling sorry for themselves. And you, knowingly or not, have likely just done something to fuck with them.

I'm listening to So now, and things are not quite so bad. I think I may have driven myself to on-line dating, which seems like a good place for misanthropic troglodyte cab-drivers with some youth and looks left to meet their female equivalents.

(Actually, our female equivalents are strippers, and they don't take out on-line personals unless they're looking for some side business. I guess I'm better off just continuing to hope that the woman of my dreams will magically knock on my door at 3 AM some Wednesday morning)

If you haven't quite picked up on it yet, tonight was the first night I've ever truly hated my job.



Last night was completely lacking in any of the whackiness one would expect from the Friday night and full moon tag team. Very mellow, and I had a good time.

John Lennon's birthday is today, and KBOO had a Lennon marathon starting at midnight. I'd been dreading it. Yes, I can understand and appreciate that the Beatles made absolutely incredible pop music, and were brilliant in such a varied and sustained fashion that to even call them "the best band ever" is almost an insult, because it implies that they can even be compared to other bands. There's the Beatles, and there's everyone else.

I know this, I understand it, and I agree with it.

And I also would be entirely happy if I never heard another Beatles song in my life.

But tonight, thank fully, the guy didn't play much from Beatles studio recordings. Whole lot of bootlegs, especially of Lennon alone or with a drummer. Experiments in tape loops and cut-ups. After tonight, I now understand why people are so into his stuff (I'd listened to very little of his solo stuff before).

I'm totally on board - John Lennon was the shit, even more ahead of his time than I'd ever realized. I'd never got just how experimental a musician he was, I always saw him more as a guy who did a lot of drugs with his hippie girlfriend and bastardized pre-existing genres (not that there's anything wrong with that). Which, of course he was, but he also was up to some really neat shit, too.

If only someone would devote a similar night to Brian Wilson.

So basically I listened to the radio last night.

Speaking of pop genius, though, the inimitable Lord Uncooked will be making a rare appearance this afternoon at The Hostel (2334 E Burnside), provided the front-man can wake up on time. Word on the street is that he's a cab driver too, you should check it out.

Show's from 3-7 PM, there will be good food and many other excellent musical acts.


It's on

Last night I drove around and talked to drunk people. Yeah... not a whole lot to report. The highlight was driving two very drunk long-time friends, a white man and woman, and they were talking about how they'd had sex five years ago. The woman didn't remember, and they spoke a great deal about it - it was obviously a new and significant piece of information. What made the conversation especially amusing was that they didn't want to refer to the act specifically with the cab driver around, so they just constantly referred to "it."

I helped save somebody's life by rushing blood from the Red Cross to Good Samaritan at 2 AM. That probably cost me about $30 or so. The whole deliveries thing isn't something I've really covered before, as it's really a very boring subject (the deliveries never do stupid things or tell me stories). Maybe that's something I'll do in the next week or so.

Go to the show tonight (125 NW 5th, doors at 9, the good stuff'll be around 10-10:30), your world will be rocked.