The day started out good–two airport trips. The first was a freshman from Rhodes College going to meet her family in Montana. I asked how she liked college. “I like it and I like Rhodes. I even like Memphis,” she said.
The second was a young woman who was here to be interviewed for admission to the College of Optometry. She was returning to a freezing West Virginia.
The rest of the early morning was a variety of run-of-the-mill short hops, then things slowed down until mid afternoon. When things slow down, a lot of drivers will hang out at the hotels. I know one guy who waited at The Peabody for two and a half hours before getting a trip. I can’t stand to sit at one location for more than twenty minutes. Instead, I drive around the city from zone to zone until the computer rings those familiar “TRIP” chimes. It’s kind of like being a pin ball rolling around until you hit the jackpot. On this day, I even trolled through south Memphis. The people who use cabs most often are those who can least afford it. It’s because they either don’t have a car, or their car is broken down. But it’s like George Carlin said, “Everybody has to be someplace,” and it’s my job to get them there. Isn’t that right , Chuck? Chuck says, “That’s right.”
Which reminds me of one time when I was visiting my friend J.T. in New Orleans. J.T. lived in a one room apartment in the Quarter overlooking a courtyard on Chartres Street about a block from Jackson Square. J.T. and his friend Parker, both artists who sold their paintings on the fence around the square, and I were walking down the street headed for a bar on an overcast but balmy January day. Along the way, Parker was telling us about the woman he was with the night before. Parker was in his sixties and had long grey hair and full beard, and was a caution if you get my drift. Anyway, he was describing his sexual encounter with vivid detail when I noticed a priest walking toward us headed in the opposite direction. I thought Parker would certainly cool it when the priest got close, but instead he increased the volume of his description and looked at the priest and said, “Isn’t that right, father,” to which the priest replied, “that’s right, my son.” Only in Nawlins!
Another one of J.T.’s friends was Jack the cop. He was like a stoned Dirty Harry. One time Jack got stoned while on duty and forgot where he parked the squad car. The next week, the Department had him patrolling on horseback a block-long median strip on St. Charles.
On another occasion, the police were responding to a rape incident. Seems that a guy was raping his granddaughter. Jack got there first and went up to the third floor and arrested the guy then brought him out on the balcony to let the other cops know. When the sergeant told Jack to “get that guy down here immediately,” Jack threw him over the balcony.
Speaking of the Big Easy, a couple of months ago I had a craving for oysters. I hadn’t had any since that venerable midtown institution Anderton’s closed. For those of you who have never been there, Anderton’s was a special place. The main dining room was decorated to look like it was under the sea, while the oyster bar was a bar constructed to look like a square rigger complete with sails and rigging, and the walls were adorned with murals of a giant 19th century sea battles. It was a place where the waitresses called you “Hon,” and the steaks came to the table still sizzling.
So, I had the craving for oysters and I went to the place where I was sure to get the best, Pearl’s Oyster House. Well their oysters were the size of a quarter. I looked at the bartender and told him these were a joke, and I went to Oak Grove in Laurelwood where I enjoyed a dozen nice-sized oysters. A month later I gave Pearl’s another chance but it was the same old story. I spoke to the manager and told him about the Oak Grove and suggested he change his supplier. He blamed it on the oil spill. Look, if you’re going to call your place an Oyster House, you damn well better have some great oysters.
But this is about driving a cab in the Bluff City. As I said, it was a slow, uneventfull day–a good time to reminisce.
© 2010, Eddie Tucker. All rights reserved.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed on this post are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Yellow Cab, Checker Cab, or Premier Transportation Services.)