things have never been so swell/i have never been so well

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i am at “work” at the TBH, listening to the local alterna-radio station play fuzzily while reading a book of essays by sarah schulman (heart!). “you know you’re right” by nirvana just came on & it reminded me of something weird. six years ago, on long island for the first time in a long time. i went on a job interview & didn’t bring my bike to the train station because it was 95 degrees out & i didn’t want to be sweaty. i took a cab from the train station in mineola to the job interview (which is another funny story but doesn’t fit in with what i’m trying to say here), went to the job interview (proofreading at a local paper), had literally everyone in the office stop what they were doing and stare at me in shocked silence (oh long island. this was during my closet-tranny period). i walked back to mineola & took the train back to syosset. nobody was home to pick me up, so i got into the cab.

cabs in long island are weird—you don’t get one all to yourself unless you pay top $. usually, you are herded in there with up to 5 other strangers and you get driven all over with them. there’s no meter & drivers charge whatever the hell they feel like. that day, the driver was my favorite one–a mid-20’s white guy with long tennis-ball-colored dreads. he was wearing overalls with no shirt & you could see his pierced nipple. some irritating woman was demanding that he drive her first, alone, and then send someone else to pick up the hordes. “fuck no! you want fucking private service, you call a fucking limo! come on, everyone, get in,” and we all herded in, kind of stunned. as we peeled out of the parking lot, he leaned out, gave her the finger, and yelled, “FUCKING YUPPIE!” everyone laughed. then “you know you’re right” came on the radio, and our cab driver got so happy, like this wave of relief visibly spread through his body. “fuck yeah,” he said, turned it up and headbanged. it made me really happy.

i didn’t take cabs for years before that. an old friend of mine, one i was secretly in love with, got raped by a cabbie when we were all 14 or 15 or so. she was coming home drunk from a party. this was after she stopped talking to me, so i heard it thru the grapevine, but it broke my heart, and for years i avoided cabs at all costs. not because i thought i would be raped, but because i couldn’t stand the thought of tipping the man who raped her. i didn’t know anything about him, but it was a small town, a small cab company. i liked tennis-ball-dreads dude because he was too young to have been working 5 years ago. and because he rocked out to nirvana and wouldn’t tolerate rude yuppies. man, i hate those yuppies too.

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