Are You Talkin’ To Me?

February 2, 2007

So the phone rang, and, just on a whim, I decided to answer it. Maybe I’m a little behind on the times, but I’ve discovered that when a phone is ringing the only way to make it stop is to pick it up (or flip it open if it’s one of these newfangled "cellular phones"). And surprisingly the ring often coincides with someone calling me. Crazy, isn’t it? Anyway, a woman asked me who she was calling. I explained that, since I wasn’t the one who did the dialing, I didn’t know. Then she asked me if I was a cab driver. Well, I could be, but I told her I wasn’t. She said, "Oh, yeah, you don’t sound like a cab driver." Really? What does a cab driver sound like? Just because I don’t talk like Robert DeNiro doesn’t mean I’m not a cab driver. If someone chooses cab driving as a career doesn’t make them inarticulate. I’ve known librarians who quit their jobs to go be truck drivers, and if I worked in the trucking industry I’d probably know at least one trucker who quit to go work in a library.

But I digress. I’ve met some pretty smart cab drivers. When I was in England I took several cab rides with a driver named Big Dave. We had to call him Big Dave because there was another driver also named Dave, but even if there weren’t two Daves we’d probably still call the first one Big Dave because he took up most of the front seat. Big Dave told a lot of funny stories. The one I remember best is about how he used to take mental patients from the hospital into town for a couple of hours of freedom each Saturday. I wasn’t a mental patient, by the way; I was a student, although the only differences are that group therapy is called "class" and the drugs aren’t nearly as good.

But I digress. It was after dark when Big Dave was driving one patient back to the hospital. They had to drive through a long stretch of empty countryside, and there was a thick mist hugging the ground. I could imagine how Big Dave felt. I got seriously creeped out just listening to him tell the story, and not because he had Pink Floyd on the radio. Big Dave always had Pink Floyd on the radio. So as they were driving through nowhere the patient in the back seat leaned up close to Dave and said, "Nice night for a murder, isn’t it?" And Dave nearly jumped out of the cab, but he kept going. As they drove up to the hospital the patient then said, "I’ve got something for you." Dave felt something narrow pressing into his back. He looked down and the patient was handing him a really generous tip. Somehow I don’t think I could handle something like that even if I did sound like a cab driver.

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