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October 5th, 2009

09/26/09 Sat. 115.1 miles

My first fare flagged me down in front of Superior Grill on St. Charles. He was in his 60s with a wiry gray beard and pale, freckled skin. He wanted to go to Harrah’s Casino. He managed to tell me his life story in an $8.00 fare. He started driving tour busses, illegally, when he was 16. His brother was already doing it for a living. He said he got burnt out on it by the time he 18 and took a break.

“Looking back, I’m not sure how I ever survived it. If I would have kept it up I woulda been dead at 21,” he said.
For the rest of the trip he was very introspective. We talked about doing right in life and the moral obligations we as people have to one another.
“I really don’t understand why I’m still on this planet. I should’ve been dead a long time ago. I don’t know why God keeps me here. Maybe it’s just to keep my old lady safe,” he contemplated. “You should see her. Here, look. She‘s 40 years old.”
We pulled up to Harrah’s and he pulled out his wallet and show me a picture of him and his old lady.
She was beautiful. I wondered how he did it. I mean, he was cool as hell but not the best looking guy in the world.
“Damn, man! You did well for yourself,” I told him.
He handed me $15.
“Now you be safe out there,” he said as he closed the door.

I picked up two girls in front of Whole Foods who wanted to go to Lucy’s on Tchoupitoulas. One of the girls liked a guy but wasn’t sure if he was interested. They asked my opinion on the situation.
“Listen, sometimes guys are complete idiots. Sometimes we can be overly aggressive, other times complete cowards. Sometimes we need to be hit over the top of the head. If you like him just ask him out,” I told her.
Too bad I can’t follow my own advice.

There was a terrible accident on Magazine St. today. A car blew a stop sign and hit a SUV. The SUV flipped onto a parked car. They had 3 blocks of the street cut off. I drove two girls who saw the whole thing happen from a block away.

Around 9:00 PM I was paged to pick up from the Cure on Freret St. My fare was a young lady sporting the biggest teased out hairdo I’ve seen since the 80’s.
“How’s your night going?” I asked.
“Spectacular!” She exclaimed.
She smelled wonderful. It took me a second to place the scent but as soon as we passed the newly opened doughnut shop on Freret I was convinced.
“She must be one of the owners!” I thought to myself.
She smelled exactly like doughnuts. I have had an obsession with doughnuts my entire life and have a fantasy of opening my own old fashioned joint dedicated to the wonderful deep fried treat. I wasn’t quite sure how to confess my sickly obsession to this young lady so I just soaked up the wonderful smell and drove her home.

Right around 10:00 PM on the weekends there are so many cabs out on the road that our dispatch radio becomes a mess. I decided to take a break and have dinner while every other cab driver was checking into cab stands. I had decided hours before hand I would be having some pulled pork from the Voodoo BBQ on St. Charles. I took a right off of St. Charles onto Martin Luther King BLVD. to find a beautiful young redhead waiting on the corner. She walked across the street for my car obviously wanting a ride.
“How can I turn that down,” I said out loud in my empty car.
Another cab driver had already been dispatched on the order. I could have stolen the fare from the other driver but I decided to hold her until the designated cabbie arrived. She was already sitting in my car with her. I begrudgingly explained the situation to her.
“Should I wait outside?” She asked.
“If you want, but I don’t mind. You can wait here in the car. It’s safer,” I told her.
We talked for a few minutes until the other cabbie showed up. I hope he was grateful because it killed me to make such a beautiful young lady leave my car.

Sometime around 11:00 PM I was riding down Carrolton Ave. and spotted a 10-4 flagging me down. He was staggering pretty badly and I thought for a moment of just passing him by, but I got stuck at the red light on Oak St. The guy came running for my car and I had no choice but to pick him up. I had met this guy several times. Once, when I had first moved to New Orleans I had met him at the Balcony Bar. He was dressed to the “9’s” complete with alligator shoes. We shot a couple of games of pool and I went about my business. Later in the night/early morning I left the bar from the side entrance and stumbled upon him passed out on a bench outside. Someone had stolen his shoes.

I’ve crossed passed with him several other times since my first encounter and every time he’s been just as drunk as he was tonight.
“We are going to Ms. Mae’s!” He shouted.
“OK!” I shouted back.
A Morphine song You Look Like Rain came on WWoZ and he asked me to turn it up. I happily cranked it up and drove on to our destination. My customer started singing the wrong words to the chorus at the top of his lungs.
“You look like grey, you look like grey, you look like grey!”

“Man, oh, man,” he fought to make a coherent sentence.
He fumbled in his pockets and rubbed his head with his hands.
“You’ll never guess who I just played with. Never guess!” He shouted.
He was right.
“I just played a gig with Dr. John. He saw me going for it. He saw me and he grabbed it. He saw me…”
This rambling sentenced continued on for a solid minute of two. What he was going for I was never exactly sure. At first, I thought he was speaking musically. The more he rambled the less sure I was. For a moment I thought maybe he was talking about smoking a bowl. I just agreed and nodded my head.
“See man, you get it. Damn, Dr. John!” He shouted. “It was like the rain coming down”.
“He’s the man,” I agreed.
“NO uh uh. He’s the MACK!” He exclaimed.
“Mac Rabeneck,” I said under my breath.
“See, you know man!”
At which point he leaned into the front seat and planted a big wet kiss on my cheek. In New Orleans even men will kiss each other on the cheek.
“Man, man. I’m sorry. I hope you don’t mind. You just see it bro!” He screamed.
As we approached Brother’s 3 he told me to stop. I obliged, he paid his fare and climbed out of the car. There were 3 young black ladies standing outside by their car and he immediately walked over to them. I left before I could be a witness to him getting his ass handed to him.


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