Cabby's corner: Shorty and Zack
The college kids were drunk, tired, impatient, ragged, eager to get home, glued to cell phones.
The moose kept sagging back down, unable to open his eyes, curling up, perfectly happy sleeping it off….
By Dell Franklin
I parked on the main drag and walked the thirty or so yards to McCarthy’s and went inside, around midnight, and the place was jam -packed, noisy, no moving or breathing room, and the bartender didn’t know who called a cab and the doorman didn’t know who called a cab and then a husky kid around my size but probably around 22 told me that the guy passed out on the bench near the front door was the person who needed a cab.
“Sorry, pal,” I said. “But I don’t pick up people who are passed out.”
“Hey, dude, I’ll wake him up,” said the husky guy. He shook the guy, and tried to stand him up as he lay like a 200-pound bag of move-less beans curled up sideways in the fetal position on the bench.
“The guy’s comatose,” I explained, starting, to leave.
“Hey dude, stay,” implored the husky guy. “He’s my bro’. I’ll get him up…and into your cab.”
“I don’t want him in my cab. He’ll go right back to sleep and then I’ll be stuck with him, and he might puke….”
“Hey dude, he’s my, bro’. The dude don’t puke. He never pukes. I’ll get him up….”
“How’s he gonna pay if he’s passed out, pal?”
“Hey I’ll go with him and take care of him and make sure he
I sighed. A line of people waiting to get in and some smokers stood nearby and looked on. “All right, you get him up, you get him into the cab, you get him outta the cab and make sure he pays, and I’ll take him.”
“Hey, dude, thanks. I’ll get him up.”
I walked back to my cab and sat down behind the wheel and waited.
Five minutes. Another minute. I stood and walked halfway back and saw the husky dude talking and joking with people by the door. I walked up to him and now he and a few guys with tattoos, mohawks and chains were trying to rouse the bag of beans on the bench, without success.
The moose kept sagging back down, unable to open his eyes, curling up, perfectly happy sleeping it off, and the doorman didn’t seem to have any trouble with this, so I told the group trying to rouse the moose that I didn’t have all night and was going to take off and pick up other drunks in other bars and walked off, and when I got to my car the husky guy was in my face.
“Hey, dude, you promised to pick up my bro’! You pick him up!”
“How can I pick him up if he can’t move off the bench? You wanna lift him and carry him over your shoulder? He’s a goddamn moose!”
“You’re supposed to take care of drunks, dude. That’s your job.”
“Don’t tell me about my job, kid.”
He spat off to the side, assuming a fighting pose. “You’re a prick,” he said, swaying. Some day you’ll be in his situation, and if a cabby don’t pick you up, you’ll deserve not to be picked up and treated like shit, ‘cuz you’re an asshole. Now you go on back and pick him up!”
I was on the verge of parking this idiot on the sidewalk, but instead walked around my cab and got in, and the idiot knocked on my side window and pulled down his pants to expose his tiny little penis. “This is for you, asshole, prick fuckhead,” he said.
I hit the button, rolling down the side window. “OK, shorty,” I said, pulling away, laughing.
But it was one of those nights....
A little later I picked up another cocky young kid who insisted I take him and his buddy to Los Osos for $20. I informed him Los Osos was a $30 ride, at least. He informed me he’d been driven to Los Osos many times by other cabbies for $20 and so I told him to get on his cell phone and call our dispatcher and ask her how much it cost to go to Los Osos from San Luis Obispo and he told me to go fuck myself and that I was a chickenshit punk and so I got out of the cab and stood by the door and watched him get out of the back door on the opposite side and curse me in much the vehement fashion as did the penis exposer. He reminded me of all the kids who play the role of nasty, spoiled rich kids in movies. He was wiry and preppy and he called me a faggot and this and that and I walked around to the rear of my cab and stood staring at him with my arms at my sides and he spat on the asphalt and called me a cock-sucking punk and gave me the finger and walked off with his pal.
A few months later very late there was a mob at Mother’s Tavern at closing. There are three bars right near much other and the college kids were drunk, tired, impatient, ragged, eager to get home, glued to cell phones, and each time a cab pulled up a bunch of them converged on it. When my turn came, five kids—three guys and two girls—piled in. As I started to take off, a kid opened the back door on my driver’s side.
“This is my cab!” he cried. “I called a cab before you did. I been waiting an hour! Get out!”
The kids in back began arguing with him, and so he came to my window. “I’m Zack,” he said. “I called your dispatcher before any of these people. This is MY cab. Check with your dispatcher. I’m Zack.”
“Look Zack,” I said. “It’s every man for himself this time of
night—like New York City in the Village. Sorry, man. But look, two cabs are on the way, so just wait at the curb, and you’re next.”
“Bullshit!” he exclaimed, and waved his girlfriend over. “This is MY fucking cab. If you want, I’ll call the goddamn dispatcher and she’ll verify it’s my cab, and I'll get your fucking job….”
“Hey man,” said a kid in back. “Give it a rest, huh?”
“What a jerk,” said a girl up front.
“Fuck you, assholes. This is MY cab.” He rapped his knuckles on my window, which was halfway down. “This is my cab. I want it....”
“Zack, I’m not gonna kick these people out. Wait your turn….”
He had his cell phone out. “I’m calling, your dispatcher, asshole.”
All, the kids in the cab started yelling at him. Again, he opened the rear door and insisted this cab was his, and then he cussed them, and they cussed him back, and he slammed the door shut and came to my window. He waved his cell phone at me.
“I got your job, fucker.”
I rolled my window down. “You’re just a punk, kid, a spoiled little punk.”
He bent down and hawked a big wad of spit in my face, lacing my bifocals and slathering my face. He must’ve been saving it up. In situations like this, you don't really think, or remember exactly what you do, but it seems I was out of the cub quicker than possible for a 61-year-old, in-shape man and running him down like a linebacker chasing down a quarterback and he saw me coming but it was too late.
I got him and lifted him off the ground on the run like one of those crazy wrestlers on TV and body-slammed him on the hard concrete sidewalk in front of Mother’s while girls screamed and shrieked and the sound of him hitting the sidewalk made a squishy thud and he groaned and didn’t move and somebody said something to me and I told them to shut the fuck up while the doorman at Mother’s folded his arms across his chest, didn’t move, except to nod at me as I got back into my cab to the rousing accolades of my fares while a bunch of kids surrounded the crumpled figure of Zack, the very same kid who’d wanted to go to Los Osos for $20 and called me a cock-sucking punk and gave me the finger when I refused to do so. §
Dell Franklin is publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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