In this seemingly neverending parade of drunken douchebags and surly whores, you occasionally get a passenger that restores your hope for humanity. I got a call a few nights ago to pick up a couple at a local restaurant about 1:15 AM. I called the number on arrival, which was the restaurant’s number, not my passenger’s. After waiting about 4 or 5 minutes, a waitress stuck her face out the front door, held up one finger and mouthed the words “just one minute”. I waited one minute, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes… Now I’m telling myself that these idiots are wasting my time, and I am wrestling with the decision of starting the meter or just no-showing the call and letting someone else deal with these boneheads.
I’m getting irritated and I’m about to leave, and just then, they finally came out. “Mike and Millie”, a good looking blonde couple in their early thirties, well dressed and obviously a little tipsy. He’s tall and rugged looking, and she is remarkably pretty… not one of the usual trollops I get, not “hawt” or whorish, just beautiful and smiling and somehow very “wholesome” looking, even when a little drunk. They pile in the car, and Mike says, “Sorry to keep you waiting… we are from out of town, a little drunk, and a little lost…”
I’m a little irritated, and this is not a promising beginning. “Uh huh… I see that… where are we going?”
He says, “We are staying at a friend’s apartment at the corner of Dartmouth Avenue and 110th Street, but on the way, we need to see if we can procure a certain… item…”
I’m thinking to myself, Uh huh… I bet you do… I get that a lot. Just what sort of “item” might we be looking for, hmmm? A big bag of powder, maybe? A little bud? Maybe some pills? A hooker, perhaps? Maybe a six-foot tall pre-op TS streetwalker named “Delilah” is more to your liking…? Sure… just you go right ahead and ask the taxi driver… that’s a great idea. Certainly a taxi driver has the sordid knowledge to be able to hook you up… jackass…
“Uh huh… and what would that be…?”
He looks furtively around out the windows of the car, then looks at his watch, scoots forward in the seat, and says in a low, hushed, conspiratorial tone, “It is 1:27 AM, and we are strangers in this city… Where in this town, at this early time of the morning, can I get my hands on…”
“…a microwave oven?”
I laughed, and instantly, my irritation just evaporated, and I just plain liked this guy. A couple years of driving this car and blogging about it have honed my instincts, and I sensed that I just might have a blog-worthy passenger in my presence. I tell him that there is a Wal-Mart less than a mile from his destination, and we are on the way. Mike and Millie are from Missouri, in town for a wedding, I think they said. They are heading back tomorrow, and the microwave in their friend’s borrowed apartment doesn’t work. They are a little drunk, but they are just really warm and wonderful people, I can just feel it in my bones. She asks if I have a family, I mention my daughter, and she “oooh’s” and “aaah’s” about how I talk about her, and demands to see the pictures I have of my Punkin’ on my phone.
I drop them off at the Wal-Mart entrance, and idle over to a parking spot to wait for them. 10 minutes later, they come out, with a “down on his luck” looking black guy walking along side them. He doesn’t look like a vagrant or an alcoholic, but he looks a little dirty and seems out of place with Mike and Millie. Mike is carrying the giant microwave and talking intently with the black guy, and Millie is carrying a large white bag. I pop the trunk and step out to help load it up, when Mike hands the giant box to Millie, and stops to talk to the black guy. I said good-naturedly, “Dude, did you really just dump that medium-sized appliance in your girl’s arms? Is chivalry really that dead?”
I ran over and took the microwave from Millie and stuck it in the trunk. Mike has his wallet out and is giving money to the black guy, who looks incredibly grateful and thankful. They get in the car and Mike tells me that the black guy said he has a job interview tomorrow, and needs soap and deodorant. I admit, my first instinct was that Mike might have been hustled, but this guy looked truly grateful. He didn’t look like he was a drunk or a crackhead or a scammer… he looked more like a working man on really hard times, with a little desperation in his soul, and who was just blessed with ten or twenty dollars that might change his luck. He was bowing repeatedly, holding his clasped hands in a praying gesture, mouthing the words “thank you” over and over…
And as we are rolling out, Millie puts the large Wal-Mart bag in the front seat and says, “And this is for your daughter!” I pulled a large package out of the bag, and it is a Rapunzel playset for little girls.
I said, “That’s very nice, but I can’t accept this…”
She said, “Of course you can! I insist. After listening to you talk about your little girl, I can tell that you are an awesome Dad and that she is an awesome little girl! You both deserve it.”
“Really, ma’am… I can’t…”
“Uh uh uh…!” she interrupts. “I won’t hear it. That is for you and your Punkin’. I’m not taking it back.”
So I thanked her profusely and drove them to their friend’s apartment. Their fare is eighteen or twenty bucks, and the guy gives me $35. I said that they have already tipped me more than adequately, but he won’t take the money back. He wished me and my Punkin’ well, and went in the apartment.
I didn’t even notice the price tag until I got home; the Rapunzel playset cost twenty dollars. So in the span of 5 or 6 minutes, I watched this couple buy a microwave for a borrowed apartment, give a man money so he could clean up for a job interview, give me a $20 toy for my daughter, and tip me nearly 100 percent for their taxi ride. That kind of generosity seems very rare these days… I won’t be forgetting Mike and Millie anytime soon.