Fare and Loathing in Cleveland

Autobiography – My Life in Vehicles, Part V

cabAn elderly woman who lived in the neighborhood was one of my favorite fares, even though she’d only give you a nickel tip. You’d have to earn every penny of it, driving her from Pick-and-Pay on Lorain Avenue to her house, then schlepping  bags of groceries inside for her.

One day I got the call from my dispatcher. It was nearing the end of my 10-hour shift. You had to work sixty hours a week if you wanted to make a living driving cab in Cleveland in the early ’70s. I was dead-on-my-feet tired. Dazed.

I pulled up to Pick-and-Pay and there she was, waiting with a shopping cart full of groceries. I let her in the back seat on the passenger side and loaded her groceries into the trunk. I came around to the driver’s side. Staring into space, I groped for the door handle, opened it an plopped down in the seat.

Suddenly I came to my senses as I looked in front of me and there was no steering wheel. I looked to my right to see her staring at me, a combination of fear and anger in her eyes.

“It’s been a long day; I’m tired,” I explained opening the door.

She asked me if I was OK to drive.

“Yeah, yeah,” I responded. “Just a little tired.”

She was pretty nervous, but I got her home OK and took her groceries into the house for her.

I was relieved when she smiled and handed me her customary tip. Sometimes a nickel can be worth a lot more than five cents.




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