This is another short story from my short story series Short Stories in the Key of Kate, that were written by hand in the back of paperback copies of my novella Kate. You too can get a paperback copy of Kate with a handwritten short story at the back that nobody else will have but you in handwritten form — click here to buy it.
These short stories are all based on characters and events from the novella but stand on their own. Enjoy!
I get a lot of customers that “need” to get to wherever they are going faster than legally permissible. It’s almost part of the job. It’s also one of the most stressful, yet usually yields a few extra dollars for me. Few people would yell at me to step on it and not pay accordingly. Once, a guy gave me a hundred dollars to take him to the airport in about half the time that it should have taken, and for most of the ride he had his head down as though he were tying his shoes — only he wasn’t. I’m sure there couldn’t have been anything inappropriate going on there.
The absolute most stressful rider I have ever driven was not too long ago — just the other day, actually. If I had to guess, she must have been at least twenty-five, though I suppose people can use surgery and make-up to make themselves look younger — though I always say that a life lived without stress and anxiety is better than any plastic surgery or make-up. People used to tell my mother that she looked like she was thirty when she was fifty. Well, this was easily the most rushed and harried passenger I have ever met.
Everything about her spoke to the urgency of her mission, if you want to call it that, that involved going to her office in midtown, picking up a folder, and then taking that folder to a meeting where she was presenting something somewhere else in midtown — hey, I just met you, and you want me giving away all of my passenger’s secrets?
Here’s the thing — you look at me and you think, this guy just drives people from one place to another, and that is true but that is not all I do here. I am pretty sure that I am the world’s most underpaid therapist. While it is true that the bulk of people get into my car and tell me where they are going and then say nothing else for the duration of the ride until it’s time to tell me how much they want back in change, the talkers really talk a lot.
It’s not just that the talkers talk a lot, I think they don’t even realize how much they are talking. There is one passenger who I am convinced goes out of his way to find me and uses me to get around because he likes to talk to me and tell me about his day and what is going on. Then there are the people who love to ask me for advice about what Indian movies are worth seeing, as if I am some sort of repository on what is good in the world of Indian cinema.
Anyway, back to that woman. I drove over to the office just about as quickly as possible, running a couple of red lights (I was not caught, thankfully) and got there – I suppose that I am pretty trusting that I just waited for her to run into the building while she got her folder. I saw her running into the building and nearly knock someone over, and just as quickly she came right back out. She practically jumped into the car like one of those Dukes of Hazzard and told me where she had her meeting, and that she was pretty sure that her job was on the line and that this folder and this meeting meant the difference between a promotion and unemployment.
I suppose you can’t argue with that — other than maybe to question if the person is maybe exaggerating a little bit. The hundred dollar bill she had given me when she got into the car was a good hint to me that she was probably right on the money, no pun intended of course — well, maybe somewhat intended. I can be a little bit of a spinner of puns.
In the end I got her to her meeting early and she gave me a bit of an extra tip to thank me for it — I hope I don’t go gray from all the stress of getting people around so quickly. I have to really take it all in stride, though, since at the end of the day I am just the person who took people places and don’t ever have to give meetings like that woman did.
Here we are, sir — that will be fifteen dollars and seventy six cents.
Have a nice day!