Time Doesn't Care
There aren't enough hours in the day or enough days in the year to satisfy me. Time is a commodity I can't afford. I have never felt such a sense of urgency about the things I need to do before I go to a boneyard. Money needs above all. I desperately need to write and not lose the momentum I gained in the last two years. But the most-fallow periods of my creative writing life have been when I was driving a taxi in New York City. It requires my full attention behind the wheel, and the process of getting to the garage, waiting for a cab, then cleaning it and getting it into traffic is time-consuming to say the least. Then there are the pressures of the job. Tonight I had a calm, busy night, taxi almost always with riders, traffic conquered, and the very last ride blew the whole thing.
Not even the guy who almost puked in the back on Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant while I was making a u-turn got to me (I held up traffic in three directions for five minutes while he unloaded out the door)...but this one got under my skin. She was drunk of course. A nice-looking 30-ish well-dressed woman who said take her to 39th and Second, which I did.
I waited a long time while she was supposedly swiping her credit card. Nothing happened. Then she fumbled in her purse another few minutes. I inquired. She said pull around the corner. I did. She sat still in the back. I asked again. She handed me a dollar. It was a six-dollar ride. I told her I needed five more. She said she would get it for me. I pulled into the fancy building with a driveway, wrongly assuming it was her destination. She said no she wanted to go in the MacDonald's on the corner and get it for me. I was exasperated. She went to get out. I got out and demanded my money. She yelled at me. I yelled at her. Some guys came out of the building and yelled at me for yelling at her. I yelled at them. They yelled some more at me. I yelled at her again and drove away cursing everybody.
Yes, yes, I know. I was wrong. It was only five bucks. I tip the guys wiping down wet cars in the cold car wash that much.
I just blew it that's all. I'm tired and disgusted. This job is kicking my butt. I have aches and pains where I never had before. Every day I talk to these guys in the garage and we are all pretty much in the same boat. They ask me about the business. I'm an older gentleman now. They give me respect. I play it for what it's worth. Bring it on. This is new. I tell them the whole damned story starting with the Irish Italians and Jews hiring horses to start the taxi business. I take them through the organizing of the 30s 40s and 50s to the point where the union sold us out for a dime in the 70s. I tell them the whole thing every day if they ask; and they do. I tell them exactly where we are at why we are screwed and how we arrived in this shit hole, where the City of New York has us over a barrel and is whipping our asses with barbed wire, and how we are nearly powerless to do a thing about it--without a union.
Then I tell them about the Taxi Workers Alliance and their ears perk up. I tell them what I read that's all. This outfit looks pretty good to me. Health and dental benefits? One hundred dollars to join the union and actual benefits. I tell them what I read. They look organized and serious. They managed to get us the $45 JFK flat rate. More cab drivers need to check it out. They want the website. Ha ha I just happen to have it here...
But I have to find a better way to make a living. I can't get involved in this stuff again.
On second thought, I just need to save enough dough to pay my debts and go to a better, cheaper country. Some place quiet exotic beautiful and cheap, where I can wander around and write. That's all the hell I want to do. Is that so much to ask?
I have a lot on my mind. I guess everybody does. But Time doesn't care.