Sunday, October 08, 2006

Confession 4 - A Tale of Two Freshmen

Something unique happens to all of us when we turn 18 and graduate from high school. A whole new world of freedom opens up to us. No longer do we have to forge our parents’ signature for permission slips. In fact, we can write our own dismissal notes (though in my experience, they aren’t as effective as they legally should be). We can enter into binding contracts like loans and credit cards, make our opinion heard by voting, move out on our own, or, if we so desire, spend exorbitant amounts of money on products such as tobacco, porn magazines, spray paint, strong adhesives, and rear-view mirror reattachment kits.

It is, therefore, no surprise that some people take advantage of this new found freedom to experience and experiment as much as possible. I think that Chef from Southpark put it well when he said:

“There is a time and a place for everything and it’s called college.”

I recently witnessed this occurrence, manifest through two freshmen. I say “recently” meaning that it was about a month ago. The reason I have waited this long to recount this confession is that I wanted to make sure that the situation had been fully defused.

And so the story begins. At about 1:30am, I received a call to go pick someone at a party two blocks north of campus, at a house disturbingly close to my apartment. The contact was a girl, but I had no idea how many people would be getting a ride or anything. When I pulled up, there was no denying that it was a party. Considering that it was at a house on a Mulberry intersection, I was surprised that the police hadn’t broken it up hours earlier. Nobody in sight had the appearance of being 21 or older, nor did any of them appear to be sober. Notwithstanding, most of them seemed to be enjoying their chemically altered state of consciousness.

Nobody immediately proceeded toward the cab, so I turned the van off and picked up my phone and proceeded to dial the number of the person I was supposed to pick up. But something caught my eye, so I stopped. Emerging from between to cars parallel parked along the street just ahead of me, I saw a limp body being dragged quite non-effortlessly toward my vehicle.

“Oh no. Not this. Anything but this.” I thought to myself. Driving drunk people is usually acceptably pleasant/entertaining, but in my experience, the drunker they are, the more annoying they are. When it gets to the point where they can barely make out a sentence without slurring all their words together into something that would sound more appropriate coming from the mouth of an alien race on the Sci-Fi channel, that is the worst. Especially when they are trying to give you directions.

The body and the person dragging him drew closer and closer to the van. Then the rear door behind me opened. A less intoxicated and thoroughly annoyed guy about 20 years old made his best attempt to load the individual/body into the seat. The body, which was that of a kid about 18 years old with short, dark brown hair, denim shorts, a white shirt, and completely soaked from head to toe, began making noises.

Unexpectedly, he was making his best efforts to laugh and show that he was having a good time. As he was being loaded in, he tried to tell the guy struggling under his weight “Youu’rrrrrre grrrrrrreaaaaaaaaat man. Thaaaaaaanksssssssss.” Not surprisingly, this friend didn’t seem to foster the same elation. He then turned to me and said, “Hold on. I’ve got one more.”

And so, to my delight, (sarcasm definitely intended here) I got to wait there as he made his best attempt to drag another body. This second kid, also about 18, was a lot smaller, skinner, but equally wet. In contrast, however, this kid couldn’t have appeared more miserable. He was quite incapable of exerting any kind of control at all. After the “friend” loaded him in the other side of the back seat, he told me that they needed to be taken to Corbett hall, which was a dorm on campus about a half of a mile away.

“Don’t worry man. When you get there, you can just go in a get some people to help them back into the hall.” he told me, not very convincingly.

I asked him how they were going to pay for the cab since neither of them could even sit up straight. So, he was frantically digging in their pockets looking for a wallet. As he was doing so, my front passenger door flew open and two girls tried to climb in.

“What are you guys doing?! This is our cab and we’ve been waiting for 2 hours for it!”

Oh great. Not only did I have two corpses in the back seat, I now had drama going on as well. Moreover, I wasn’t even supposed to be dealing with the two guys since it wasn’t their cab in the first place. I hate drama. And so, the negotiations began and went for about 5 more minutes. As the girls were expressing their anger at how the two corpses had been behaving for the evening, spending the last two hours vomiting on the lawn in the midst of the downpour, the “friend” was trying to convince them to just let me drop them off at the hall on the way to their apartment.

During this period of fragile negotiations, the skinny kid was using what faculties he could to implore them to pump his stomach. Isn’t that a good sign? One more reason I’m so glad I don’t drink.

As the bickering continued, I wanted nothing more than to get everyone out of the cab with as little drama as possible and in as little time as possible. So, I finally told them that I could just drop them off at the dorm since it’s only 3 minutes away and get them home and it would be less expensive for them in the process. They appeared appeased, and so we drove off.

Even though the drive was only a half of a mile long, it was a delicate process. I had to drive as quickly as I could so as to minimize their window of opportunity to vomit and generally make a mess of my back seat, while also keeping from accelerating, decelerating, or turning to abruptly so as to provoke such a deplorable event, and also avoid getting a speeding ticket in the process. It was truly multitasking in its finest and most horrendous hour.

As we were about 500 feet and one sharp turn away from the dorm, the skinny sick kid begged for us to pull over because he was about to puke.

“No way dude. Not on my watch or in my cab” I thought to myself. So, I slammed on the gas and had all my attention of the finish line, that special place on the sidewalk right in front of Corbett which symbolized the end of drama and queasiness.

It was approaching. The hall was already beside us, and I slowed the cab. Immediately after stopping I ripped my seatbelt off, threw the door open, jumped out, opened their doors, and with the help of the two girls, we dragged them out to the cold, wet sidewalk in front of Corbett. It was almost 2am, and I knew there would be no way I could get in there to get people to come drag them back into the hall. Plus the meter was running and I wanted to get there girls home, particularly since it was unfair that they should have had to deal with all of this.

So we left the two guys, lying on the grass, incapable of even getting up. It wasn’t entirely heartless of an act. I asked the girls to call the “friend” and have him make some calls to people in the hall so they could go out and help.

I was quite relieved that the experience was over. And I was also quite annoyed with people who don’t know when to stop drinking. After scanning the newspaper the following day, I took comfort that I didn’t see any headlines relating to two dead freshmen found on campus. And I’ve resolved to never allow people that drunk into my cab ever again without a responsible person escorting them.

Here’s to the hope that I won’t have any more blogs like this one again.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Confession 3 - The Sandwich

It’s amazing the cravings that people get whilst in a chemically altered state of mind, particularly following a prolonged consumption of such substances. If you don’t believe me, just try going through the Taco Bell drive-thru on a Friday or Saturday night at about 2:00am. Then call me once you finally get your food at 8:27am, only to discover that they messed up your order. Or you could do as I did and stop by Taste of Philly in old town at 2:15am.

As hard as I may try, I cannot offer any explanation as to why

Every time I have a customer to pick up at Taste of Philly, it is inevitable that they will have placed an order for food approximately one minute before I arrive. This was no exception. But they did offer me food, which was kind of them. I get offered food quite frequently, actually. I generally politely decline, for reasons of modesty and also just to be safe. But at least once per night someone offers to buy me some food. (I won’t even go into how many times people offer to buy me alcohol or to join them at their party) I have come to the realization that the real solution to world hunger would be to just have starving people drive taxis. Then they can finally have a regular source of food. Granted, they would probably die of salmonella, but at least the starvation issue would be resolved.

And with this thought, I decided to make the most out of the few minutes I would be waiting and go use the restroom.

After stepping into the bathroom, carefully closing the door behind me, I felt something wet on my hand. I figured it was probably just water from someone who didn’t dry their hands sufficiently after washing. Yes, I am quite good at being painfully na├»ve like that. But when I turned around, reality set in. I’m sure many of us have heard the saying “Sometimes boys miss”. Usually this statement refers to them missing the toilet. Well, that wasn’t quite the case this time. Whoever had meant to use the toilet not only managed to completely miss it entirely (except for some abundant splatter all over the seat), I wondered if they had managed to actually miss the bathroom as well.

Needless to say, I thoroughly washed my hands several times afterwards. As I walked toward the counter where the employees were hard at work, I contemplated whether or not I should tell them. It was so busy, and I didn’t want to add to the stress of the situation. So, I decided to leave them in their state of relatively ignorant bliss and not inform them of the atrocities that had occurred in their restroom facilities. I figured it was the most humane thing I could do.

I sat down with the group of people I was to drive to their destination, since it would still be a few minutes until their sandwiches were ready. We made casual chit chat, and they entertained me with a brief recounting of some of the events of their evening.

Then one guy, a semi-jock type, semi-pretty boy, semi-fraternity brother type, turned to look directly at me and asked me an unexpected question.

“Does my nose look crooked to you?”

Since I am among the least observant people I know, I hadn’t even taken note it before. So, my eyes slowly moved down from looking into his and followed down the center of his nose. As I got to the tip, there was no denying it. Something was off, and I mean literally. It was bent to the side about 2/3 of the way down. Answering his question as honestly, yet tactfully as possible, I said:

“Hmm, it looks like it is a little bit. But I probably wouldn’t have noticed”.

I am proud to say that this answer was completely, 100% truthful. I never would have noticed.

“Spoken like a true diplomatic cab driver.” one of his friends said.

It turns out that he got in a fight with a few people earlier that night. Well, by saying a “few” people, I actually mean 10. I have no idea what the fight was about (though I do seem to recall there being a girl involved in the story somewhere). Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed. He managed to take on 10 people in a fight and emerge with nothing but a slightly crooked nose. This guy was awesome.

When the sandwiches were finally ready, we went out and climbed into the cab. There were 5 of us total, and the most chemically altered one was in the passenger seat next to me. We drove about half a mile and the three guys in the back were still laughingly recounting more of the events of the night. Suddenly, the guy next to me, a guy in his early twenties with dark hair and seemed to be of a Hispanic descent, freaked out.

“Whoa! There’s a cop!”

So what did he do? He did exactly what any logical person would do. He rolled down the window and threw out the last half of his Philly Steak sandwich.

“Did you just throw your sandwich out the window?!” I asked, thoroughly confused by what was going on.

“Yes! I don’t want to get arrested!” he exclaimed.

“You could get in trouble for having a sandwich?” I asked, trying to understand the logic in this situation.

“Yes! And they would do it too!” he replied.

All I could do was laugh. It wasn’t quite ROTF laughter, but it was definitely up there.

What confuses me most now is the fact that he was so freaked out about a sandwich but he had no problem shortly thereafter talking about the drugs that he was going to do once we got to his house. He could hardly contain his excitement and desire to party as he broke out exclaiming, “Yeah! We’re gonna get hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh!”

He asked me if I wanted to join them (once again, a nice illustration of the variety of things I get offered every night as I engage in more cabbage), but I laughed politely and said that I am clean. I have no desire to do anything like that. And I don’t think I’m ever going to look at a Philly Steak sandwich from Taste of Philly the same way again. Or use their bathroom.