The call came from the 410 zone. Just northwest of downtown, this area may be one that you would want to avoid at night. Working class and poor, it’s somewhat industrial with a few plants still operating. There are several trucking companies located here, there’s a lot of 18-wheeler traffic. I was picking her up at a discount store in an old shopping center that looks like it’s on it’s last leg. She was waiting in front of the place with a flat cart with about 12 cases of bottled water and a few other assorted items when I arrived. I helped her load the water in the trunk. She got in and told me to go back up the highway toward Forestdale. Forestdale is a suburb in decline in the 420 zone. 420 is almost as gritty as 410.
She wanted to stop at a gas station that carried a particular kind of beverage that the discount store did not. As we were backing out to leave, a thuggy looking guy with bling bling, gold teeth and a side-ways hat came bursting out the door holding his baggy pants up by holding onto his penis. He was taking wide straddled steps to keep his pants from falling off. He was hollering “You done hit mah cah!”. I had not hit his car. It was sitting at a gas pump and I was backing out of a parking space. It was close but I had cleared it by at least a foot. My customer opened the back door and said “He didn’t hit your car. I’ll testify for him if I have to”. The thug could see that I didn’t hit his car and let it go. I thanked her for offering to testify for me and we headed up the road to her destination.
She directed me into probably the worst-looking cottage-style motel that I had ever seen. I thought “Damn, this place looks like it’s been hit by a tornado”. After looking around for about another minute, I realized my first thought had been correct. The place HAD been hit by a tornado! The devastating tornadoes that had hit Alabama on April 27, 2011 had grazed this place. Some of the neighborhoods nearby had seen catastrophic damage. This place was damaged pretty severely, but for the most part still standing. She directed me over to one of the better looking units. It didn’t look good but there was no major structural damage. The parking lot was littered with all kinds of debris.
It was obvious that the motel wasn’t in business. I’m sure it hadn’t been since the tornado. Once I realized that she was a squatter in this God-forsaken place with no power or running water, all the bottled water she had bought at the discount store made perfect sense. I stacked the water next to the door of the unit which was secured by a padlock. The fare was $10.75. She gave me $11.00 and said she needed her quarter back. I don’t think she was unhappy with my service. She just needed that quarter.
copyright 2013 R.W. Walker
*All views and opinions are strictly those of R.W. Walker. These views do not reflect the views of any cab company.