WHEN IT LOOKED LIKE CAT POWER MIGHT BARF IN THE FRONT SEAT OF MY CAB last Saturday night, I had no idea I was on the verge of being vomited on by a rock star. At that point, she was just another anonymous downtown drunk to me. And a slightly annoying one, at that.
I’ve got an unusually high tolerance – even an appreciation, at times – for the late night drunks that pass through my taxi. Maybe it’s because I’ve been the giddy/chatty/horny/annoying drunk in a cab more than once myself.
But Ms. Power challenged my patience from the get-go by lingering next to the cab outside The Ginger Man long after I’d pulled over to pick up the cluster of ladies in a crowd of overzealous cab seekers. Instead of hopping in the cab like her friends so we could pull away from the chaos, Miss Thing opted to standby smoking a cigarette. Chatting outside in the unseasonably warm night with a faceless stranger, while her two girlfriends sat in the backseat waiting for her to join us.
A good 6, 7 minutes passed. The bars had just closed. The drunks were stumbling, fumbling, clamoring for cabs. Sitting here waiting for this chick to get in the taxi was costing me money.
I finally turned to the ladies in black sitting in the backseat.
“Could you tell your friend I’ve gotta get going? I’ve got people waiting for me.”
“Ma’am, you can’t smoke in here,” I said to the blank-faced woman who’d finally climbed in next to me in the front seat. “It’s a no smoking cab. Sorry.”
She took a deep breath, drunkenly tossed her cigarette out the window and slurred, “Sorry.”
As we rolled up Lavaca, dodging drunks on our way to the Omni, one of the girls in the backseat noticed the drumsticks wedged between my driver’s seat and a couple copies of Barstool Poetry.
“Do you play drums?”
“No, not really,” I said, catching a glimpse of her chestnut acoustic Dylan ‘do and thick black-rimmed glasses in the rearview mirror. “I play my steering wheel and dashboard, mostly. It’s a good way to work off my traffic angst. Keeps me from flipping people off and riding my horn.”