Tag Archives: Mountain Brook

Since The Last Time

I’ve taken a break from writing over the holidays but there have been a few notable cab adventures since the last time I posted back in November. Here are a few of them:

Not high enough

As soon as I accepted the call I immediately knew that something was wrong with the dispatch. It was an address that I knew didn’t exist. I called dispatch and told them that we needed to talk to the person who called, this address couldn’t be right. The voice on the other end was of a man in a drunken stupor. He couldn’t tell me the address so I asked him if there was a familiar landmark nearby. He said “I’m out by da golf cous.” I headed over to the golf course that I thought he was talking about that was only about a half mile away.

Sure enough, there he was standing out in the street looking like a zombie that had just stumbled out of a bar where he had been over served. He fell into the back seat but had a hard time getting his legs in the car. He wasn’t a young man, I would guess him to be in his mid 60’s, he obviously had issues with stiffness or arthritis which added to the mobility issues that he was already experiencing due to his serious intoxication. He said “I don’t know the address, I’ll just show you how to get there.” He began giving me street by street directions until we ended up at a house in a seedy part of Woodlawn, near the whore motels.

crack house

He had as much trouble getting out of the car as he had had getting into it. I could see shadows of people coming toward the car, one young man offered to help him get out but he refused. When he did finally get out he took a tumble in the street. I got the impression that the folks at this house were some pretty shady characters, maybe drug dealers. Whatever they were, they at least had the decency to pick this pathetic man up off the ground. “What chu doin’ here” I heard one of them ask as he helped hoist him to his feet. He apparently pulled a little cash out of his pocket and offered it to them, possibly in exchange for a little something to get him higher than he was already. “Three dollas? Dat all you got? We ain’t no thugs, we tryin’ to make a livin’ ” I heard one of them say, possibly aimed more at my ears than his. They opened the back door and sat his ass back down in the cab and said “take him on, cab driver. We don’t want him round here.”

Ok, where to now? I asked him. He wouldn’t give me a location, he just started back up with the directions. In just a few minutes I realized we had gone in a circle and was back at this house. I wouldn’t stop, I kept going for a couple of blocks in spite of his protests. I finally pulled over, turned around and looked at him and said I’m not going back to that house. Those guys have already made it clear that they don’t want you there. We may get shot if we go back there. He still insisted on going back. I said I’ll either take you somewhere else or you can get out here. He chose the latter. I said you owe me fourteen bucks, I want my money. “I ain’t got no damn fo-teen dollas,” he said. I can’t say that that’s not exactly what I expected him to say. I said well I could call the cops, but it’s your lucky night, I need to get back to where I can pick up some people who will actually pay me. I sped away leaving him looking like a drunken zombie stumbling in the middle of the street.

The Royal Couple

The call was to a barbecue joint in an upscale neighborhood that doubles as a bar in the late night hours. The name on the screen was “Prince”. It didn’t take him long to stagger out. He was a heavyweight guy with reddish short hair that had obviously had his share of adult beverages. He was drinking what appeared to be some kind of liquor on the rocks which he killed in one big gulp before getting in the car. He fell in the car and said “one more coming.” His partner was the straight man of the two. He was tall and lean with dark hair and thick horn rimmed glasses. I could tell he had had a few but he still had it under control and seemed to be the guy in charge. He started giving me directions to their home in the tiny kingdom of Mountain Brook but Prince wasn’t through partying.

“I wanna go to five points” Prince said several times. The straight man said “we’re going home, you’ve had enough.” “I don’t wanna go home, I’ll pay for it,” he slurred. Stopped in front of their house, the straight man ran his debit card as Prince continued his nagging insistence on going to five points. “I’m not getting out, you can go home but I’m going to five points. Put it drive driver, take me to five points, I’ll pay you.”  “No, you’re going home,” insisted the other guy. “HELL NO I”M NOT, PUT IT IN DRIVE!!” I said I don’t care either way, I’ll take you to five points or you can stay here but you’ve got to decide because I need to go.

The straight man relented, I put in in drive and headed to five points. Somewhere along the way the decision was made to truncate the trip and instead of going to five points, just go to the popular bar in Crestline Village which was much closer. “You’d better not show your ass in there,” the straight man said to Prince. Prince didn’t like this at all. A commotion ensued in the back seat and I heard a few slaps and punches, all made by Prince with the straight man screaming “MY GLASSES, MY GLASSES!!” Before many more punches were thrown I pulled up at the front door of O.C.’s. The straight man shouted “pay the man and tip him well” Prince managed to hand me his credit card which I ran and added a twenty five percent tip. They actually had the nerve to ask for my card so they could call me to come back and take them home. Knowing that they would be kicked out in less than five minutes, I handed them my card, turned my phone off and headed to Lakeview.

Uncle Cotton’s Perdidium

They looked like two fish out of water standing in front of the big sliding doors of the Sheraton Hotel. One man probably in his 50’s and another about thirty something looked a little like members of the Darling family from the Andy Griffith show. “Get us outta here, this damn place wants nelly two hundurd dollars a night. Take us to the cheapest motel in town.” I ran the options through my mind and decided that Motel H in Woodlawn was probably the cheapest motel in town. There’s a big sign on the side of the building advertising $29.99 a night.

darlings

The younger man introduced himself as DeWayne and said “This is my uncle Cotton. We ain’t from around here, we from way up in North Carolina.” Uncle Cotton spoke up and said “we do hardwood floors, a church in Hoover hard us and paid for us to come down on the Greyhound but they didn’t give us but a hundurd dollar perdidium to stay in a motel on. That damn place is too damn high, we want to go to the cheapest place in town but we ain’t got but eight dollars to spend on a cab. Can you git us there for that?” I figured it would probably be about ten on the meter but I said yeah, I’ll do a flat rate of eight dollars for you.

Uncle Cotton had been hitting the sauce pretty hard on the Greyhound. He said “I’m drunk, I just wanna go somewhere and go to bed.” He decided to mess with me a little on the way to the motel. “I ain’t never seen this part of Burminham, where you takin’ us?” To the cheapest motel in town, I told him. “I thank you takin’ us somewhere funny, I don’t like it.” DeWayne spoke up and said ” it ain’t his fault, Uncle Cotton. He’s jest doin’ his job.” Uncle Cotton laughed a little and said “aw hell DeWayne, I’m jest fuckin’ with him.”

A rather downscale lady of the evening greeted the duo at the door of Motel H. She looked at Uncle Cotton and said “hey honey, what chu doin’ tonite?” I wonder if she got that perdidium?

copyright 2014, 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.

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Dinner On The Grounds

One of the most popular bars in the Lakeview district is a relatively new one known as the Top Cat. It’s most popular with the young, preppie, over-the -mountain crowd. It was just after 2 am on a Sunday morning, the time when all the bars that aren’t private clubs have to close. I saw him stumbling around the Top Cat, then he threw up his hand to flag me down. I almost didn’t stop because of his ridiculously drunken condition. I have plenty of experience dealing with super drunk people and I know what a pain they can be. I thought, what the hell? Maybe it’ll go quick, I’ll let this trip be my last one tonight.

I asked where he wanted to go as he fell into the backseat. “I’m starving” he slurred and he was very specific about what he wanted. “I want a gyro combo, take me to that place in Southside that sells gyros”. Luckily, this place was one of the few in the area that stays open this late at night. It and the two others that stay open are always packed with people seeking to feed the drunk munchies. When we drove up at the place I could see that there was a line and I knew that he would never be able to wait in line, order and pay for his food, he was just too messed up. I said, I’ll tell you what. Give me the money and I’ll go in and get your food, you stay here in the car. He agreed and pulled a crumpled up ten out of his pocket.

gyro combo

It took about twenty minutes to get through the line, order and get the food. When I got back to the cab my customer was out cold. I tried shaking him, yelling at him, turning on the bright overhead light and shining my flashlight in his face. I turned the radio up to full blast and shook him some more. He was alive, he would grunt every now and then but he was not gaining consciousness no matter what I tried. I didn’t know where to take him, he hadn’t given me a final destination. There was only one thing left to do, call the cops.

This place was surrounded by the UAB campus, the cops were there in less than five minutes. They tried all the usual methods, the same things I had tried, shaking him, yelling at him and shining a light in his eyes. They weren’t having any better luck than I had had. One of the cops said ” I guess I could use a little mace but you probably wouldn’t be able to drive the cab the rest of the night if I spray it in there”. The other cop, a big burley guy, said “that’s not necessary, I know what will work”. He then made a fist with his massive hand and started rubbing his knuckles over my customer’s sternum. He rubbed vigorously over and over and said “this is supposed to work. He’s the first one I’ve ever seen that this didn’t work on.” The guy again made a few grunts, but no consciousness, even after the sternal rub. The other cop asked “if we look in his wallet can you take him to the address on his license?” I said sure but I don’t know how I’ll get him out of the car or how I’ll get paid. He said “this is how you’ll get paid” as he handed me the guy’s debit card. “If you can’t get him out of the car, you may have to call Mountain Brook, that’s where he lives.” When he handed me the license I could see that my passenger was twenty four years old, did indeed live in Mountain Brook and had a very aristocratic sounding triple name with the suffix III at the end.

The food was smelling delicious on the way to the Tiny Kingdom. I thought to myself, he’ll never know the difference if I have a few of his fries, will he? My GPS guided me to a grand Mountain Brook estate. The kind that I would imagine would be common in Beverly Hills. Apparently this guy’s family was movers and shakers.

mansion

I pulled into the long driveway and prepared for the daunting task of getting him out of the car. I turned on the overhead light and got out and opened the back door. I was saying, you’re home, time to get out. Of course this didn’t work so I started trying to drag him out, feet first. To my amazement, he woke up enough to crawl out on his own power and ask “am I home?” I said yes you are. He managed to stand up and take a few staggering steps into the highly manicured front lawn of this gigantic mansion. He seemed to make a circle, kind of like a dog looking for a good place to lie down. He did lie down and he was out cold again, but at least he was home and no longer my responsibility. I ran his debit card and added a generous tip. I placed his card, his license and his receipt on his chest. I placed what was left of his gyro combo by his side. I’m sure his prestigious neighbors got an eye full if they were out and about around sunrise.

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.

images courtesy of www.yelp.com,  commons.wikimedia.org

Stuck In The Middle

There’s a building near 5 points south that ‘s a retirement home for the poor. Almost all the residents are elderly and most have some kind of disability, physical, mental or both. Trips out of here are typically very short. Many times the destination is to a small urban supermarket just at the top of the hill. The fares are usually less than $5 and the trips usually involve the handling of wheelchairs, walkers ect…Needless to say, this place is not high on the list of places that most drivers want to pick up.

This customer didn’t need any kind of mobility aids. He seemed fairly fit. I judged him to be in his mid to late 60’s. A big red flag appeared before my eyes when I saw that he was wearing a full sweat suit on this eighty plus degree day. This is almost always a sign of mental illness. His thick gray sweat shirt had the orange and blue logo of Auburn University on the front. I noticed he was also wearing an orange cap with the same logo. The putrid, pungent smell of body odor hit me like a ton of bricks when he got in.

His speech was clear and distinct. There was no accent. It was much like a newscasters voice. Everything he said was grammatically correct and he had clear, crisp diction. He said “take me to the middle of Mountain Brook”. Since Mountain Brook is made up of three villages and a bunch of residential neighborhoods, I had to clarify. I asked where in the middle? He said he wanted to go to “a pizza parlor in the middle of Mountain Brook”. I guessed he was talking about the one in Mountain Brook village.mountain brook village

Before we made it to “the middle of Mountain Brook” he wanted to stop at an ATM at his bank. He started giving me directions like a drill sergeant barking out orders. “You will turn right at the next intersection and then you will merge into the left lane. You will then turn left”. I made the right turn but couldn’t immediately get in the left lane due to oncoming traffic. “I SAID merge into the left lane” he snapped. Now I was officially pissed and I almost lost my cool. Do you want to have a wreck? I asked him in a sharp tone. I can’t just get in a lane because you want to, cars are coming!

At the ATM he tried two different cards. I could see the screen from my vantage point. Both were declined because of insufficient funds. I asked him if he still wanted to go to Mountain Brook. “Yes” he said. “I have enough, take me to the middle of Mountain Brook.” On the way over the mountain he started to evaluate my service. “Timeliness? I’ll give you a passing grade on that. Accuracy?  A bit off but still passing. Friendliness? On that you get a C” he said. What he didn’t know was that I was about to get a big fat F when I got him to the pizza parlor.

Traffic was thick in the village and there was no parking in front of the pizza parlor. I had to go past it a bit and turn left against oncoming traffic in order to turn around. When i got to the front of the place I stopped in the street, blocking traffic and put on my flashers. I told him the fare would be $11.75. To my amazement he handed me one of the debit cards I had just seen declined at the bank. I thought you said you had enough? I asked him harshly as I gave him a stern stare. “There is enough on that card” he said. I couldn’t sit there long, there was no parking and traffic was building up behind me.

I ran the card and of course it was declined. “For what reason?” he asked very sharply and angrily. I said it’s because you don’t have any fucking money in the goddamn bank! That is the reason! I said you’d better have some cash on you or I’m gonna call the cops. “CALL THE COPS” he snapped “CALL THE COPS NOW!!” He had called my bluff. I told him to get his ass out and never call for a cab again. I then called dispatch and told them about the games this guy was playing.

I was thinking later about what his motive could have possibly been. Why did he want to go to the middle of Mountain Brook? Why was he so eager to call the cops when his card was declined? Was he trying to go to jail in this posh suburb because he thought it would be better than his current situation? Was it just some twisted fantasy in his twisted mind? Who knows?

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.

Drunk Daddy

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS VERY HARSH AND EXPLICIT LANGUAGE. MOST READERS ARE LIKELY TO BE VERY OFFENDED AND DISGUSTED BY THE MAIN CHARACTER OF THIS STORY

Some drunks are fun, like the twenty-somethings leaving the bars that are just drunk enough to want to sing. I remember one group singing Comfortably Numb along with the radio at max volume. Some are friendly and talkative, others are just plain silly. They can be annoying as hell but for the most part they’re pretty much harmless. This isn’t a story about one of those kinds of drunks. It’s a story about possibly the most disturbing, disgusting drunk that I’ve ever had to deal with.

The call came from zone 150, Mountain Brook. Calls from this zone are not always as lucrative as one might imagine considering the prestige and income level of this area. You can’t always expect to make a lot here but you can generally expect for it to be a pretty civil trip without too much drama or ridiculousness. Not this time. When I drove up in the driveway, he came out immediately. I could tell he had been hitting the sauce pretty hard. He said “just park over there, let’s take my Hummer.” I said I can’t do that. “Why?” he persisted. Because it’s against the rules was all I could think of to say. I didn’t know if it was or not but I did know if I had wrecked or even put a blemish on that thing that I would never hear the end of it. He persisted, telling me how much nicer it was than the cab. I finally said I know it’s nice, that’s not the point. I’ll lose my job if I do that. I said if you want me to drive you, you’re gonna have to ride in the cab.

He insisted on riding in the front because we were going to pick up his daughter and her friends and they would take up the back. Classic Cars is a venue located beside the railroad tracks and under a bridge. It’s extremely difficult to find unless a person knows exactly where they’re going. Inside is a collection of classic cars in mint condition. There’s a full bar and space for dancing. This venue is often rented out for private parties such as wedding receptions, beer festivals, ect…Tonight it was an alcohol-free dance for teenagers. He began talking all about his family life with his drunken slurred speech. It was clear that he was full of contempt for every person in or associated with his family. He referred to all females, including his wife and daughter, only with the words bitch, cunt, or whore.

He started telling me the story of catching his 14 year old daughter’s boyfriend on his patio smoking pot from a homemade bong. He talked about having a confrontation with this 15 year old kid like the kid was his own age, which I had guessed to be about 45. “I told that little pot smoking motherfucker I’d kick his goddamn ass! I was drinking a Corona in a cup and I just  drunk daddyslashed it in his face. If that motherfucker had come after me I would have kicked his goddamn ass!”. He went on to tell me, “The only reason I’ve got money is because of that bitch I’m married to. I hate her and that little cunt we’re going to pick up.”

When we pulled up at Classic Cars he called his daughter on the phone to come out, he was there to pick her and her friends up. She didn’t waste any time getting to the car but she was alone. “Where are the other two little bitches?” he asked. His daughter sat in the backseat like a perfect little lady. It was clear that she didn’t want to be confrontational at all, she just wanted to go home. She explained that the other two girls said that their mother was coming to get them so we didn’t have to worry about bringing them back. It wasn’t long before Drunk Daddy started verbally abusing his daughter. He slurred ” I don’t like that little pot smoking motherfucker you’re fucking around with.” He then told her that he had thrown beer in the kid’s face. She sat stoically in the back. I could hear her barely mumble “I don’t believe this”.

“Are you fucking that little motherfucker?” he asked. “I know you are you little cunt. Why don’t you just go ahead and let him stick his goddamn dick in your little pussy and put a baby in there so that me and your mama can dig it out of your fucking little cunt with a goddamn coathanger?” I’m 53 years old and I have never in my life heard a grown man talk to a 14 year old girl this way. I was completely appalled and disgusted but what was I going to do short of starting a fist fight with this drunk asshole. In hindsight, I thought that I should have just put his ass out on the side of the road and taken the girl home. I wasn’t thinking straight at the time, I just wanted to get this scumbag home and out of my car. The little girl never raised her voice, I guess she was used to taking shit off this stupid bastard.

We were almost home, we were turning off of highway 280 onto Overton Road when the situation suddenly became much more complicated. The girl got a phone call. It was the mother of one of the other two girls making sure they were being brought home. The two girls had lied to Drunk Daddy’s daughter because they wanted to stay longer at the dance. Back to Classic Cars. Drunk Daddy is scowling and cursing the entire way, calling the girls every derogatory name that’s ever been thought of for women. Drunk Daddy’s daughter had to go in and get them, turns out they were just trying to buy more time with their boyfriends. Apparently they were neighbors or staying over at Drunk Daddy’s house. That’s where they were going, not another location.

When they got in the car, he came out with “hello you little cunts.” Then he started to give what I assume he thought was fatherly advice. “You know, boys only want one thing out of little whores like you. They want to stick their dicks in your little holes.” All three girls seemed terrified of this idiot. They were completely quiet except for an occasional “Yes sir” when he was spewing his filthy bullshit.

When we pulled up in the driveway all three girls bolted. They were gone in two seconds flat. Drunk Daddy didn’t get out. He was one of those drunk assholes that just wanted to hang around and keep me from leaving. Thank God his wife came out. She was livid. “Pay this man and get your stupid drunk ass out of the car” she said. “Brittany’s dad knows you’re drunk! He’s never letting her come over again!” she angrily told him. “How much do I owe you?” he asked. With all the running back and forth the fare had run up to $65. He handed me a $100 bill and said “Keep the change for putting up with my shit.” I said thank you.

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.

Mazel Tov

It hadn’t been a good day cabbing. I was having trouble with my car. A mechanic at the shop; who was fired a few days later, had refused to even look at the transmission problems that I described to him on this Saturday. It was UAB’s graduation day and I had seen many scolars walking around campus in their UAB green robes and mortar boards.

I had picked up a few customers but the bulk of the students had already skipped town for the beach. My best customer had been a guy who lived in Chattanooga that had graduated from UAB by taking online courses.I had taken him and his girlfriend to a graduation party on a side street off Overton Road in Mountain Brook. My transmission problem continued to get worse. Every time I started off after stopping for a traffic light the car would feel like it was falling apart the first time the automatic transmission shifted gears. With some difficulty I was able to drive it back to the shop. Everyone was gone home by now. There’s a lock box with a key to a spare cab to use in times such as this.

The spare cab wasn’t a great one but it wasn’t the worst one I had ever driven either. Business was still very slow after I switched cars. After sitting and waiting for probably over an hour without a dispatch, I got a call from the folks I had dropped off at the party for a ride back to their hotel. Thank goodness! I was glad to get anything at this point and this would be about a $20 trip, nothing to sneeze at when business is this slow.

It had been raining off and on all day, it was now long after sundown and the rain was pouring. It was raining harder than it had rained all day. Overton Road must be the curviest road in the entire metro area. Some curves seem like you’re about to drive in a circle, then it will turn the other way and curve around severly. There are few if any street lights along this stretch of the road, on this night it was black dark. While driving around one of the sharp curves, I heard a sound that no one ever wants to hear, especially on a night like this. The sound of a flat tire is unmistakable. At first I was trying to run other possibilities through my mind, but I soon had to accept the reality that I would soon be out on the side of the road on this God-awful night changing a tire.

It took a while to reach a stopping point. There were no side streets for what seemed like a mile. I was creeping at about 5 miles per hour while feeling the pressure of a line of cars bearing down behind me. Finally I came to a side street. The stress I was feeling eased considerably when the cars behind me were able to get around. I sat there for a few minutes relieved that I had stopped but dreading the soaking I was about to recieve. I finally got out, took the minimalist jack out of the trunk and began to get it secured behind the front passenger tire. I wasn’t wrong about getting soaked, after about two minutes I was soaked to the bone in the pouring rain. Just then a pair of headlights pulled up and stopped behind me.

The two men that jumped out of the car were dressed a little like Mormons. They were wearing clean, neatly pressed white shirts, black dress pants and black leather shoes. I didn’t think for one second that they were Mormons. They were both sporting ZZ Top like beards down to their chests, one black, one red. The first one asked “do you need help?” He didn’t wait for me to answer, he squat down and took over the job. The other one joined in and they were both fully involved with the job of changing my tire within a minute. When I looked down, I could see that the crowns of both their heads were covered with blue yarmulkes. The Birmingham metro area has a fairly large Jewish templepopulation for a city in the deep south. There are two large synagogues in Southside on Highland Avenue, a large Jewish Community Center on Montclair Road and two synagogues right here on Overton Road.

It was still raining hard and the job they were doing was filthy. They didn’t seem to mind at all. In the meantime a Mountain Brook policeman had stopped to see what was going on. He stood in his raincoat and held the flashlight as these two bearded young men continued to do the job. I took this opportunity to call my customer to tell them what had happened and to make sure that they hadn’t caught another ride. They were still at the party and still needing a ride. Great! I thought. ‘I’ll be able to finish what I came here to do”.

When the job was over the two young men introduced themselves. One was the son of the rabbi at a nearby Chabad Temple. The other was a rabbi himself, visiting from another city. I later learned that Chabad is a branch of Hasidic Judaism and they are usually considered orthodox Jews. I shook their grimy hands with my grimy hand and offered them a contribution to their temple. They refused and said “this is just what we do”. I drove my customers back to their hotel and then decided to call it a day. It had been rough and rocky but ended with a good feeling about humanity.

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.