Tag Archives: don’t tell

Early Morning Craving

As I’ve alrady told you in the story “Diaper Money” I have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy when it comes to shady dealings by my customers as long as it doesn’t involve violence or thievery. I don’t consider what my adult customers are doing to be my business as long as they’re not causing me any trouble and as long as I get paid. As I’ve said before, I’m not going to ask you what you’re up to and for God’s sake, please don’t tell me. If you don’t tell me I can always say I don’t know what’s going on even if it seems obvious. I can remember picking up a middle aged white man in a very rural part of zone 550. It was in the direction of Pinson but not actually in Pinson. He was very much a working class kind of guy wearing steel toed work boots and sporting a new crewcut. He said “I need to go into town for just a few minutes, this will be a round trip.”

He had his own route in mind which was fine with me. I always ask customers if they have a prefered route and if they do, I always abide by their wishes. Many customers believe the stereotype that all cab drivers are out to cheat them by trying to up the fare by driving a route that’s longer than necessary. Letting them be in charge of the route takes this issue off the table. We rode along some roads that I don’t think I’ve ever driven on. We eventually came out on I-65 near Fultondale, north of the city. We had made some small talk along the way but nothing concerning exactly where he was going or what he was doing. His destination was in a public housing project, one of the older ones that look like red brick barracks. This project was next to a large city high school, west of downtown in a neighborhood that’s almost entirely African American. He had me park a building away from the building where he was going. True to his word, he was in and out in less than five minutes. We followed the same route we had taken to the project back to his country home. The fare was $95, he handed me a hundred dollar bill and said “keep it”.

The name on the screen of the dispatch computer was a traditionally female name. When I saw the person come out of the house I thought this must be the wrong customer or maybe someone else called for him; that happens sometimes. I would have sworn this tall, broad shouldered person with close cropped hair was a man until she got in the car and I heard her voice. It was a deep voice for a woman but still a feminine voice. She wanted to go to one of the gentlemen's clubgentlemen’s clubs on the west side of town, she said she worked there. I certainly didn’t think she was a stripper so I figured she must have been a bartender, a bouncer or maybe even a manager. When we arrived I turned the meter off and told her the amount of the fare as I thought this was her final destination. She said “I’ll be back, wait on me. I won’t be long.”

When she returned a few minutes later I couldn’t see that she had anything that she didn’t have when she went in. But man, could I SMELL that she had something that she didn’t have when I picked her up. The skunky odor that filled the car was so pungent that it made my eyes water! It almost made me think that Cheech or Chong had just gotten in my cab. She said “let’s stop by the store. I’m gonna get some beeuh then you can take me to my gull house.” Was she aware of the smell? Maybe not, she went into the convenience store smelling like that. She came out with a twelve pack of Bud light, I guess she and her “gull” had a party.

This brings me to the only person who, as of yet, has violated my don’t ask, don’t tell policy. I had had some success earlier in the week by getting up early, by five or five-thirty am and catching the going to work crowd. It was about six in the morning when the call came through in the 235 zone. It was an old, low rent apartment complex almost to the summit of Red Mountain off of Greensprings Highway. This was late winter, it was still black dark, there was no hint of the morning sun.

She was standing outside when I arrived. A thin, middle-aged white woman wearing a V neck sweater, knee high leather boots and short hair dyed dark red, almost purple. I could tell she was no spring chicken but still not bad looking. I could tell something was awry by her hyperactive behavior. She got in and out of the cab four times before she finally settled in and was ready to go. It was obvious that she wasn’t one of the morning workers that I had been aiming for that morning. She said she wanted to go to the extended stay inn where my wife and I had lived when we first moved to town. I saw dollar signs because this place was clear on the other side of town from where we were. Shortly after we got started I was a little concerned when she said “after we go to the inn I need to go to Rugby.” Rugby avenue is a pretty seedy area in East Lake. I figured that this was probably a don’t ask, don’t tell situation.

About halfway to the inn she waved a big red flag indicating that this trip was probably not going to end well. She asked me “you’re cool ain’t you?” I said yeah, I guess I’m pretty cool, why? She said “you know we’re going to get my smoke. We don’t have to go to the inn if you’ll lend me twenty dollars to get it.” In hindsight, I should have stopped the car right where we were and put her ass out. We actually have a code that we can send to the dispatchers that means “refusing drug run.” I would have been better off this morning if I had used that code. I said, I’m not lending you any money. How the hell were you planning on paying me? She said “don’t worry honey, I’ve got PLENTY of money, just take me to the inn and I’ll get it.”  When we got there she frantically ran to one apartment and then to the next banging on doors. Someone finally let her in the second one she tried. After a few minutes she came back to the car and we headed to Rugby. After about five minutes of ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door she became frustrated and came back to the car. “I guess he must be dead asleep” she said. She now wanted to go to a house in Roebuck. By this time the sun was coming up and I felt a little safer as I could see my surroundings. I still had an inner knowing in the pit of my stomach that this wasn’t going to end well. I waited and waited and waited. After about 30 minutes I said to myself, if she doesn’t come out in five minutes I’m calling the cops. The meter was sitting at fifty two dollars, I had been fucking around with her all morning and hadn’t yet made a penny. I knew the chances were slim to none that I would see any of this money.

After forty minutes had gone by and she was still nowhere in sight I decided to call. I called the non-emergency number. I didn’t think this warranted a 911 call. I gave up after twenty rings. I decided to just drive to the nearest police station which I knew to be just behind the Roebuck Walmart. The policeman on duty was less than enthusiastic about writing up my report. I didn’t expect anything to come of it. I wasn’t wrong.

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.

Diaper Money

I’m not a cop. I’m not the father or guardian of any of my customers. My job is to get them where they want to go. I’m frankly not concerned with what they do in their private lives as long as they don’t get me involved. That’s why I have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. I’m not going to ask you and please don’t tell me if you’re doing something on the wrong side of the law. Now, don’t get me wrong, if I think a customer is involved in a robbery, burglary or some other property crime or a violent crime I’ll do everything I can to alert the authorities. If it’s not a violent crime, not a property crime, I practice don’t ask, don’t tell. Some customers won’t just out and out tell you what they’re doing but for some reason they feel the need to come up with an elaborate cover up story. Here’s an example, you can draw your own conclusions.

The address was inside the city limits of Mountain Brook. Called the “Tiny Kingdom” by many, this is one of the wealthiest suburbs in the south, maybe even the nation. It certainly is THE wealthiest incorporated town in Alabama. Adjacent to the city of Birmingham, it seems like it should just be a neighborhood of the city, but like most of the other suburbs, it’s incorporated on it’s own.

She was blond, 30’s,looked like she could have been a soccer mom or the mother of a sitcom family. She felt the need to tell me an elaborate tale about where she was going and what she was doing. “I’m going to have you take me to a terrible neighborhood” she said. “My friend lives there and she can’t afford diapers for her baby. I can’t stand to see that baby suffer. I’m going to take her some money to buy diapers”. “Do you mind taking me there?” I knew the address that she gave me to be in the 110 zone near the airport. I assured her that I wasn’t afraid to go there and I didn’t mind taking her. For most of the way she went on about how bad the neighborhood was and how she was afraid. “If it wasn’t for that pitiful baby I wouldn’t go” she said several times.

Before we got there she asked me to stop at a convenience store out in the Woodlawn area. “I told my husband I would stop and pick up a couple of beers for him. I don’t drink” she said emphatically. The store where we stopped really did look a little scary. The front was covered with burglar bars and when she opened the door I could see that the clerks worked behind bullet proof glass. There were a bunch of shady looking characters hanging around outside. She entered the store as if she had been there a thousand times, she didn’t seem scared at all. She returned with two Bud tall boys and we continued on to deliver the “diaper money”.

It was an average looking house for the neighborhood. Of course it wasn’t anything comparable to what my customer was used to in the Tiny Kingdom. It wasn’t fancy but it wasn’t falling down either. When she went in she said “I won’t be long. I won’t be gone long enough for anything terrible to happen to you out here.” I didn’t tell her that this place looked like Shangri La compared to some places where I’ve waited on people.

She returned a few minutes later even more hyper and giddy than when she went in. In an almost panicky but obviously fake shrill voice she said “quick, get me out of this terrible neighborhood!” I guess she forgot that she had told me that she didn’t drink. About halfway home I heard her pop open one of the tall boys that she had bought back at the ghetto store. Passengers aren’t supposed to bud talldrink in cabs but I figured that maybe she needed it for her “anxiety”. I don’t know how much she gave her friend to buy those “diapers” but she paid me forty dollars to take her there and back.

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.