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Friday, March 9, 2012

The Classy Drunk

Friday is upon us, are YOU ready for it? 

For us it means that we spend the day taking Mr. S. out to lunch and probably shopping at Walmart. I hate to use the Chinese Import mecca, but it is the only place that senior citizens on fixed incomes can afford. We do try to make up for it by doing all of our shopping at local small business venues.

Hurricane Jessi continues to bounce like a Mexican jumping bean on crack, and still has not got the hang of the dog door. I swear the dog has ADHD with a large dose of Duh! Through it all she will play the charm card and look adoringly into your eyes and be so sweet... and then go destroy a rug. No wonder the old dog runs outside and barks, she is really screaming out her frustration with the puppy. It interferes with her naps!

The forecast for beautiful downtown Fallon is so easy that even a weatherman could get it right! Sun all over us, all day, and 68 my-fahrenheits-are-warmer-than-yours degrees of yummy (technical term)! No rain, no wind, no falling cows, just get outside and enjoy it goodness.

Today sometime, among the other tasks at hand, I have to test the new projector we have, as it gets pressed into service tomorrow evening at the Mensa meeting. It is unpacked and on a tray table waiting to be connected. I just have to make time to do it.

It is quite the challenge to write a new story every day and I admit to welcoming the opportunity to use one already written each Friday. I have received several compliments on this series and had requests to publish it again when it was printed in the award winning (Yay Anna!) local Mensa newsletter, the Neva-Mind. It is a true story, written to the best of my recollection and presented for your enjoyment.

You should recall that this was set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the year was 1981 and I was employed by the Albuquerque Cab Company trying to make enough money to feed my family. (The first taxi story was posted 3/02 for those who missed it or want to read it again).

Here then, is the next installment in the Taxicab Trilogy: Joints

The Classy Drunk

There was a hotel bar near midtown that was more upscale than the rest and seemed to attract educated professionals, not yuppie types, but judges and senior executives and people of quiet status. The fine wine, brandy and Cuban cigars crowd, if you can picture the sort of folks that I mean. No hookers allowed, but mistresses welcome. Money talks, you know.

Most of these gents had a car and driver standing by, so didn't have need of my services very often, but there was one man who I picked up daily and took him home to his motel room. I thought that was odd, a man living in a motel, drinking in this place, where even the doorman was a snob.

He was dressed in a very clean, new looking really white T-shirt, and pressed Khaki pants with a crease so sharp it would cut you. Add to that an alligator belt and spit shined brown boots, that I recognized as US Army Air Corps flight boots. His hair was neatly trimmed and combed and he looked more distinguished and respectable, than those guys in the bar with their three piece Hong Kong suits. They kept a tie and blazer at the reception desk for this man, there were rules you know, coat and tie required in this lounge. So what could possibly be the problem with such a guy?

The answer was unfortunately very simple, he was a puker! The motion of the car, no matter how slight or how gentle, would set him off like an Atomic Vomit Bomb. No corner of the vehicle was safe from him once he got started and in between he would sing at the top of his lungs, sometimes "Lusty Limericks", other times Opera, and quite well too, I might add.

Cab drivers from our company and Yellow Cab, refused to pick him up after he had been drinking. But, I was having a very slow night and didn't have five bucks in tips to show for eight hours of work, so I agreed to give it a try.

I pulled up to the hotel as close to the entrance to the bar as I could, without blocking traffic and presented myself to the doorman, figuring that I'd better make some friends if I was going to do this regularly. I asked him about the gent I was to pick up, and how he would like me to handle the situation, all the while knowing that he didn't have any say in the matter, but it made him feel important, which put me on his good side. These guys had a reputation of being wise-guy pain in the butt types, but this one was my friend forever after this night. We worked out a plan for getting the man outside, removing the coat and tie and into the cab without drawing undue attention to us, which in turn minimized the embarrassment factor for the hotel, which was a good thing.

The first night that I picked this classy gentleman up, I introduced myself and shook hands with him, even though he was knee-walking, commode-hugging drunk, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I told him that I was going to see him safely home tonight, and hoped that he would feel like cooperating and enjoy the ride. He being a gentleman of the first order, did not make a fuss at all leaving the hotel, and informed me once outside that he was a puker and now was the time to back out if I was going to.

I told him not to worry, I'd think of something, the entire time thinking about the twelve year old punk who had lost his beer in my cab, and remembering what it was like riding around all night with that smell in the car.
Putting him in the back seat of the cab, I asked him if he trusted me and he looked me straight in the eyes for a moment, and then answered that he did. I rolled down the window on the right side rear and had the man stick his head out of the opening and then rolled the window up to where he could get his head through it if he had to, and then loosened his belt and stuck his hands through it behind his back and tightened it again. It was simple, but it looked like it might work.

Away we went, as gently as I could out into the cool Albuquerque night, thinking about being at 5000 feet elevation and wondering if the old gent was getting frost bit on his exposed ears and nose. He seemed to be just fine and was singing away at the top of his lungs when a police cruiser pulled in behind me and turned on his lights and then abruptly shut them off again. They briefly shined a spot light on my passenger, protruding from the right side of the car, belting out the Barber of Seville in fine voice, and pulled along side of me on the left, gave me a fingers-to-the-brim of the hat type of salute and sped away into the night in front of me. They knew him and wanted no part of him riding in their car; the chickens!

We made it safely to his motel room and he was a bit chilly, but none the worse for the trip, in fact he seemed to be greatly sobered up. When I checked the side of the car, he hadn't done anything to decorate it at all, Wonderful! I helped him out of the window and released his arms and escorted him to his room and helped him with the door lock and made sure that he was inside, before I left. He asked if I had been paid for his fare, and I answered him in the affirmative, the bartender had sent the money with the doorman when I picked him up. That made him smile a big smile, and he looked at me a second and said, "Honest too!" He asked me to return the next day to take him to the grocery store, and asked me what time I came on duty, and I told him and asked him to call dispatch and request that #28 pick him up at whatever time he wanted to make it "official" and I would come and get him. He told me not to worry, he didn't get car-sick when he wasn't drinking.

The next day I showed up as requested and he asked me to come in a minute, he wanted to show me something. So I did, and when I went through the door into what I thought was going to be a tiny motel room, I was shocked into silence.

The entire wing of that motel was his home! The rooms were bigger than the rooms in most homes, and the place was furnished like a Museum of Fine Art. On the outside it looked like Motel 2 & 3/4, inside it was elegant! Those "doors" for the other "units" were false, there was a solid wall behind every one of them. The entrance to his "house" looked like a dive motel room to protect him and his belongings, and you had to go through another door to get inside the house proper. He had a housekeeper who came and went through yet another entrance, also protected from snoops. Why all this deceit and trickery, and why the getting drunk and traveling by cab each night?

Without going into a lot more depth in this story, I will explain briefly if I can. He had worked long and hard to gain wealth, putting that goal ahead of everything, including his family who he dearly loved and was trying to provide a lasting income for, should anything happen to him, so that they would always be secure. And fate was cruel to him and took his wife and children from him. They were all dead and he was alive to regret not spending time with them, etc.. the whole guilt trip in massive doses. So he drank.

He was filthy, stinking RICH, and not only owned the motel, but the entire block of commercial property and gobs of other stuff. He felt that his pursuit of wealth and the image of being wealthy, had lead to his grief and pledged to never give the appearance of being rich again, thus the T-shirts, which he only wore once, and the Khaki's, etc. The flight boots were his, issued to him in WWII. He used his wealth quietly and anonymously to help the poor of the city and elsewhere and no one was the wiser.

He continued his routine of drinking and riding in my cab with his head out the window singing, until I left the job and went into the Navy. I don't know what happened after that. 

I never gave away his secrets, and he never puked in my cab. Which I thought was a really good trade. He was truly, a classy drunk.

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