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Friday, March 2, 2012


Quick y'all, let's write something before the world finds out that we are awake and on the computer and all that icky reality races in!

Today we are going to be busy taking care of Mr. S. all day. When we go to the assisted living place we check with the staff to make sure that he is getting out of his apartment for meals and not hiding out. They are really attentive and aware but sometimes he can be stubborn and makes himself sick by not eating. Like myself, he is diabetic and we must eat or our pancreas doesn't produce insulin. I can relate to the not eating thing, but we can't let him get out of balance or he gets sick quickly.

Then it will be out to lunch, wait for the doctor appointment time, wait again because you rarely get in to see the Dr. at the scheduled time, get through the session, and then get Mr. S. back to his residence in time for the evening meal. I wish it would go that fast, but it will likely take close to four hours today. Mr. S. will be worn out. He is 86.

We have a new cat, or cats I should say, in the neighborhood and they have discovered the joy of tormenting Sgt. Mikki by walking along the top of the fence. Add this to the daily wars that rage between the dogs that share the north and northeast fence lines, and we have a regular "bark fest!" 

The old dog gets downright emotional and will bite the fence boards in this wound up bravado state. If the dogs were together I doubt they would do more than sniff butts, but through solid board fences they ferocious! "I know you are, but what am I?" Hurricane Jessi just does her "tigger" thing, bouncing on her legs and running around like a nut. They need more exercise and so do I. Don't hold your breath.

Fallon weather is as unpredictable as any place on the planet, only more so. Today we are expecting a high of 48F, with rain making no cents, and the wind in a backwash out of the east (most unusual) and sun all over the sky like it owned it.

It is Friday, and that makes it ... release the Kracken! Oh wait, that was release a new story day. Sorry, sometimes the inner pirate just sneaks out. 

Last night I was perusing the list of stories in my file and decided to jump forward to the 1980's for a change. That was a busy time in my life with having moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to work at the International airport. Just when things were getting good and I was getting certified and promoted, the PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Control Organization) strike happened. So I walked the picket line during the day and drove a taxi at night in order to support my family.

This is the first story of three, and the others will follow on Friday the 9th and 16th. I have received a lot of feedback, and actually requests for more, "taxicab stories", so I am fairly certain that you will enjoy them. They are all true stories. Enjoy!

The Taxicab Trilogy: Joints
After I got the hang of it, it wasn't so bad. It was 1981 and after all, my hair was getting longer. Now doesn't that just lead you to a wrong conclusion? You're figuring that I'm talking about "funny cigarettes" aren't you. Well it ain't necessarily so, as the song goes. I was driving a cab in Albuquerque, New Mexico and associating with known radicals (PATCO controllers), but I was not smoking "happy weed."

The "joints" that I am referring to, have taxes paid on them, and locks on the doors. Bars, saloons, clubs, whatever name that you want to give them, they are all pretty much the same. Only their clientele makes them different.
The No Name Bar

Up on the east end of Center Street, right up against the foothills on what used to be part of the famous Route 66, sits a nondescript little joint without even a sign to advertise its name. There are the usual tell-tale neon signs saying, "OPEN" and "BEER" in the window, but not much to draw attention to the place. Even the paint was a neutral bland color.

When you got dispatched to this bar, you were just told, "Go to the bar at XXXX Center Street and pick up whomever is waiting..." Which could get you in a bind at even the most reputable of places, but at a place with no name?

The first time that I went there, my fare was waiting right at the edge of the street and seemed to be a little messed up, but he was navigating on his own and knew the address he wanted to go to and even told me a way to go to beat the traffic. Cool.

Sometimes people wanted to help, other times they had this idea that I was going to try and cheat them by taking them, "the long way around", and made sure that I knew the way, or that they were "on to me". I hadn't been driving a cab long enough to know a different way to every address in Albuquerque, a city of 250,000 plus people. I needed help finding lots of places.

The very next time that I had to go to this little no-name joint, my instruction was to park and go in to the bartender and ask for the customer. And the entrance is on the side of the building, not the front. So, OK, I had done that in other places, often a bartender will cut somebody off and tell them it's either a cab or the cops. Or a person would realize for themselves that they were in no condition to drive, and ask the barkeep to call for a Taxi, "meanwhile, since I'm not driving, give me a double!" And you would have to go in and ask which drunk to pour into the cab.

This time it wasn't quite the usual. I parked and secured the cab, and took the money out of the cigar box that I used to hold the change making money and shoved it in my front pants pocket, the roll of bills making kind of an obscene lump, but I was going into a dark bar and out again, so no big deal.

It's a good thing that the dispatcher told me to go to the side of the building, because where the front door appeared to be on the outside, was a solid wall on the inside. I had my Ray Bans on when I walked in and it was pitch black inside, so I had to stop in my tracks, take off the sunglasses and let my eyes get used to the lack of light, before I could even begin to walk through the room, much less find the bartender. This entrance was on the west side of the building on purpose, so the sunlight would light up whoever was coming in and they couldn't see anybody in the dark room.... pretty tricky you had to admit.

My eyes finally adjusted enough to start towards the bar. On the way a slender blond guy dressed in '70's disco type clothes, stopped me and said, "Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Hmmm?" I just smiled at him and said, "It's a roll of quarters" and kept moving towards the bar. As I could see better, I could distinguish the chairs and tables, and shapes of people, so I avoided tripping over them. Once I had reached the bar I sat down on a bar stool and waited for the bartender who was busy making a whole row of blended drinks at the other end of the bar.

Having been in plenty of bars before this, I knew better than to try and get pushy with the bartender, especially one this busy, you wanted them to be your friend. That way you get all the business, bartenders are very loyal to those who are good to them. It also gave me a chance to rest inside out of the bright sunlight and people watch, which is always fun.

As I turned around on my bar stool and leaned back against the bar I could plainly see everyone now, and the more I looked, the more I saw. It was clear to me now what this was all about. The dispatcher and whoever else was in on it, had set me up and they were playing a joke on me. Only the joke was on them.

There were girls dancing with girls, and guys dancing with guys, various costumes, a couple of guys in drag, a couple of women with flat top haircuts, leather types, the whole enchilada. Gay Bar to the max! And it didn't phase me a bit, I had been around gay people since I was a little kid, and believe me the military has been home to those with alternative lifestyles forever.

When the bartender came to my end of the bar, I asked him if there really was a customer wanting a cab, and he said, "Aw, No man, it's just a joke that they pull on the new drivers, but you're the first one that didn't freak out and split."

We all had a good laugh and the disco blonde bought me another Pepsi. I thought he was going to pass out when I asked him if he wanted to see what was in my pocket and reached for my belt. He said, "OH YES!", and I slid my hand into my pocket and fished out the roll of one dollar bills. He was so disappointed, poor thing. But I had to get back out on the street and hustle. 

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