When in doubt, just keep moving. One foot in front of the other. So to speak. The decision I have to make everyday is taxi or public transit? While the taxi is preferred for obvious reasons, it’s never going to be as cost effective. When I find myself struggling, say extremely hungover, as is the case today, the choice is clear. I can’t stand waiting for the bus or train in this condition because hell, I can barely stand. I know what you’re thinking, totally out of the ordinary for someone like me. Well, it happens.
So it’s back to the preferred taxi cab app on my phone. I get a Camry nearby instantly. I always like it when I see they’re driving an average, sensible car. Says a lot about a person, usually. They’re likely to be practical. I’m still giving this driver the benefit of the doubt when I get in the backseat and close the door. The first thing I notice is the pajama pants he’s wearing with cartoon monkeys as the pattern. Very professional, but no matter. I make the usual small talk, and he seems like a normal enough guy. Then he tells me he’s been behind the wheel for 32 hours straight.
How can that be possible? I can’t help but ask what he’s taking to maintain this pace? Partly because I’m sure it must be something, and partly because if it’s nothing too hardcore, I could use a little assistance with the condition I’m in. He claims that it’s nothing more than the motivation of the dollar. He continues driving because he needs to, he has no other choice. Of course I then wonder why he needs the money so bad, but don’t ask. That would be too personal, and therefore impolite. However, I do look around at the car, examining it in greater detail. Perhaps he works and lives in the same place? Doesn’t seem so, but he could be doing a good job of hiding it. Although if he’s been in this car for 32 hours straight, he is living here.
He seems okay with my inquiries thus far, so my next question is whether or not there’s any kind of restriction. Surely they’re not allowed to drive forever, but he claims this is true. For taxi cabs, and internet-based apps alike. To say that’s concerning is putting it mildly. I might have to look into that later. He could be lying. And if he’s lying about a lack of time limits he could be lying about the drugs too.
Ah shit, do I have some social responsibility here? Contacting the authorities isn’t likely to produce any result in this situation. What about news stations though? Maybe they should do an investigative piece on this? Some undercover hidden camera bullshit I’ll only watch the commercial of. I’m sure I could remain anonymous. How would that affect this guy though, who’s driving to survive? Would that mean game over for him?
Ugh, this is making my hangover worse. Having to care doesn’t really mix well with withdrawal. But I keep him talking, he seems to enjoy the conversation, and my hope is that it’s keeping him more alert. I ask what’s the strangest thing that’s happened in the last 32 hours? He gladly tells me of a drunk girl in his backseat last night. She took her shoes off, and kept rubbing her feet on his arm and shoulder. I tell him she must’ve been hitting on him, and he smiles at the notion, but only remarks “Maybe”.
Less than a block from my destination, and I ask how much longer he’s got to go on this long haul. This is the first question he doesn’t answer. Luckily, I’ve nearly made it. Never mind the next poor bastard who gets into this car.
We’re approaching an intersection, and there’s a cop car waiting to pull into traffic from the parking lot of a big box store on our right. As soon as we get even with it, ole monkey pants slams on the brakes, and starts screaming. He continues at high volume, muttering about how much trouble he’s in for hitting a cop car, how much it will cost him, and that he can’t afford it. He hallucinated the entire thing of course. The cop is still sitting next to us, but now pulls around with his lights on.
I get out before the police approach, and put my hands on top of the car. The driver is still losing it behind the wheel. As they walk towards me, I explain that I’m just a passenger, a fare. I claim not to know what’s going on, but they question me nevertheless. Do I know the driver? Nope. Do I have any explanation for what just happened? Nope. What were we talking about? Nothing, I was busy on my phone while he drove. They soon let me go.
I make my delivery, and on my way to the subway I have to pass back by where the police continue to investigate. My former driver now sits on the curb with his hands bound. The cops have been searching the vehicle, finding several small baggies, containing god knows what. They spill them out onto the hood. Looking up, one of the officers makes eye contact with me. I turn away, quickening my pace as he yells something I pretend to be out of earshot for. As I descend the subway steps, I realize it sounded something like “This guy talks a lot, huh?”