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Wicked

By Lee Vilensky

Thursday night just after New Years Eve, 2009-2010, and the town is dead. Always is this time of year, but I never plan for it. I still need to eat and pay rent in January and February. I’m constant and reliable, unlike the economy. Cruising the yuppie bars in the Marina, I see a woman trying to hail a pizza delivery vehicle. She is drunk and thinks it’s a taxi, even though it’s an early ‘90’s Japanese made 2 door with a large, brightly lit pizza sign on top. She approaches the vehicle at a red light and tries to open the door. The driver is terrified and waves her towards me. Another way to interpret this is to say that my job terrifies him. I pull over and she gets in my cab backwards, that is to say her face is in the backrest and her large drunk ass is facing the front of the cab. I’m 51 years old and have had a few cocktails in my day but have never entered a car in this manner, so it’s hard for me to understand why someone would do this. She tries to turn around but it’s too small a space so she gets back out and gets in facing forward. I rarely pick up people this drunk but she’s in her late 40’s and probably won’t throw up in my cab. That’s a youthful endeavor. Also I need to make some money because so far tonight my hourly wage is less than my teenage daughter’s. That’s what economists call an indicator. It indicates that I’m a 51 year old loser. So tonight I’ll pick up anything that hails me. I have no choice.

DRUNK WOMAN: TAKE ME TO WIZARDS.
ME: WHERE’S THAT?
D.W.: WIZARDS…BY CIVIC CENTER.
ME: YOU WANT “WICKED”, AT THE ORPHEUM THEATRE?
D.W.: YES.
ME: OK…DID YOU TRY TO HAIL A PIZZA DELIVERY VEHICLE…..THINKING IT WAS A TAXI?
D.W.: YES. CAN YOU TAKE ME TO WICKED?
ME: YEAH, NO PROBLEM…BUT I DON’T HAVE ANY PIZZA.

Silence. Passengers never get my jokes and I’ve told some real corkers…..right off the top of my head. My favorite is the time a woman got into my cab and said, “Sir Francis Drake”. I replied, “Umm ya know what….just call me Frank”. She didn’t think it was funny. The guys back at the cab yard didn’t think it was funny either. I thought it was the best thing that ever came out of my mouth.

D.W.: I WAS MARRIED ONCE BUT MY HUSBAND CHEATED ON ME.
ME: mmmm.
D.W.: DO YOU LIKE COLLEGE BASKETBALL?
ME: NOT MUCH.
D.W.: WELL HE SURE DID.
ME: WHO?
D.W.: MY EX-HUSBAND!

I drive to the theatre, about 2 miles, and pull up on the Grove Street side of the building. The woman pays me and tips me 5 dollars, a very generous gratuity. She gets out and can barely walk, the perfect state of mind to enjoy a major Broadway show performed by the “B” team cast. The stars are in NY where the show still sucks…probably. I pull away heading downtown on Market Street and place a “Best Of Slim Harpo” c.d. into the player. Whoever gets into my cab next is one lucky mother******.

All contents © 2008 by Gene Mahoney